Marketing experts recommend that entrepreneurs focus on a narrow market for their product.
Yet entrepreneurs find this piece of advice difficult to heed.
You can hardly blame them.
Who could fault a software company for trying to appeal to as many potential customers as possible? It’s no piece of cake to grow a business — why not cast a wide net and convert as many of your website visitors as you can?
After all, if you can meet the needs of a buyer, no need to turn them away, right?
The paradox: cast a wide net and no one will buy
Here lies the paradox. When you cast a wide net in an effort to appeal to everyone, you run the risk that you’ll appeal to no one.
As Joanna Wiebe says in her excellent book on messaging:
If you try to make every visitor happy, you’ll find that you end up saying nothing compelling enough to get anyone to buy.
Why is this?
- Because you can’t talk about the specific problems that you solve for a particular group. You are forced to write about general problems.
- Because you can’t use the specific language and vocabulary that will persuade a smaller group of buyers that you really understand them and the problems they face.
- And because you can’t link your product’s features to specific benefits.
Think about it like this.
Let’s say you need to hire a software engineer to help you develop mobile applications and you are looking at two similarly highly-qualified candidates.
The resume of the first indicates experience with mobile applications and also many other types of software development — e-commerce applications, networking, distributed business applications.
The second candidate is all about mobile — iPhone, Android, and Symbian — and can cite participation on multiple projects. This candidate is deeply entrenched in trends in the field of mobile application development and sits on one of the standards committees.
It’s a no-brainer. The second candidate is going to get a much closer look from you. This candidate will bring more relevant experience to your company and will bring technical leadership to product design decisions.
The second candidate made a decision at some point to focus on a narrower market. By turning away some opportunities this engineer became much more attractive to teams doing mobile development.
Focus on a smaller market segment to improve conversion rates
To improve conversion rates, focus on a smaller market segment like the second candidate.
If you appear like the first candidate, to be qualified but a generalist, they may show some interest. But if, like the second candidate, you show commitment to their needs, the ability to speak their language, and have proven leadership in their industry, they are much more likely to look more closely and become a customer.
When you make the decision to please fewer people, it becomes easier to improve conversion rates. All your communication is focused on their needs. You are more aligned with the customers who are most qualified to buy. You are perceived as the company that really ‘gets’ that group of buyers. You’ll find yourself picking the low-hanging fruit.
Photo Credit: Andreas Fischler