Who Do You NOT Want To Talk To?

485209911Sometimes the best message your marketing can send is “go away.”

If you’re trying to learn how to advertise your business, sending prospects packing may seem like a terrible idea, but consider the basic point that a brand is defined as much by who it’s for as who it is not for. Would Barack Obama be the president if Republicans loved him? Would wealthy drivers love Mercedes-Benz cars if a typical working class driver could afford one? Would teenage kids have gone to Alice Cooper concerts if their parents didn’t tell them not to?

A brand is defined as much by what it is in support of as by what it is opposed to. Incidentally, positioning your brand against a specific demographic is largely done for the benefit of the demographic that you do want. Think of the marketing tagline so common it’s become cliche “This ain’t your daddy’s (fill in the blank),” implying an edgy, youth-oriented product that has no time to worry about the touchy sensibilities of an older generation.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be about “attitude,” and it doesn’t have to be antagonistic. Here are the main points to consider when narrowing your target audience down:

  • “Just for you” is more appealing than “one size fits all”

Gamers who buy Alienware gaming laptops could buy the individual “one size fits all” components and build the computer themselves for half the price, but they choose to support a product that was created with their specific needs in mind. This is the power of “just for you” marketing.

  • Some customers just aren’t worth it

If you’re a freelancer, you learn that there are certain types of customers to avoid. There are people who will waste your time with over a hundred back-and-forth emails before finally agreeing to let you begin the project, customers who will complain endlessly, customers who feel entitled to put you and your staff through a gauntlet of emotional abuse, and so on. Being able to spot the customers you don’t want, or put up “checkpoints” that they’re not willing to cross (the easiest way to scare off scammers is simply to ask for half of your fee up front) will save you a lot of time, money and headaches.

  • Some customers have needs that are not in line with your mission

If you start a recruiting agency to connect poor and working class people with better-paying jobs in exchange for finder’s fees from the employers, you may find that connecting a middle class college grad with a white collar job pays a much higher finder’s fee. But, reaching for customers outside of your key demographic doesn’t always pay off in the long run. What happens when you rebrand your recruiting agency from construction to office work, and find that you simply cannot compete in the highly competitive world of white collar headhunting? Do you expect your key customers to come running back to you after you left them high and dry? Sometimes we have to choose between taking on a new type of customer, or remaining loyal to those who have gotten us to where we are.

Before initiating a major content marketing campaign, take some time to write a list of customers that you are not interested in pursuing, and why, and consider whether your plan might be enriched by an effort to send a clear message to them that “this is not for you.”

Gilbert S lives and works in rural New Mexico with his rat terrier, Kay.


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