Ever hear of the marathon runner’s “wall”? Many runners, in fact many athletes, have encountered reaching a point during their athletic performances at which they’ve felt physically and mentally incapable of continuing on – as if they’d literally hit a tangible, hard and unrelenting wall. It can be very difficult to get past this point, so many are unable to finish and achieve their goals. Others break through the wall, complete the race and even place among or above the best of their competitors. Work and careers are a bit like a marathon too, or perhaps a series of marathons. And we all hit those walls. The trick isn’t to presume you can avoid them. Success is about breaking through those barriers and doing what many around us fail to do – persevere.
Keep going! Break through! Risk is a necessary in business and life. Failed efforts can teach us and make us stronger, wiser, better. Failure is only truly failure when it stops you.
Before I started writing this blog I wondered, “Who the hell would even want to read this?” Most blogs are essentially just opinion forums – and some, maybe many, are even seemingly shameless efforts of self-promotion. Does the world really need another blog and another opinion screaming out, “Listen to me…for God’s sake!” Well, clearly my verdict is in, for better or for worse. But with this concern in mind, I promised myself that I’d try to keep my blog entries real, relevant and fitting for potential readers. So I’m continually trying to evaluate what might add the greatest value. What would I want to read if I were you reading this blog? The answer isn’t simple, but there are some guidelines I’m reminded that I should follow, which brings me back to the header for this post:
Someone famous (for the life of me, I can’t remember who, although I’m leaning toward Abe Lincoln) once said that it takes much more effort to say something with less words than it does to say the same thing with more words. I think that’s true. Sometimes we seem to struggle with so many words just to say even the simplest of things. Yet we live in an increasingly busier, broader and shorter-attention span world. Especially in business, we tend to want everything in bullets. Marketers and customers often tend to want things summed up in a single tag-line or catch-phrase. Now, while I think we often miss incredibly profound and beautiful elements in the details we sometimes overlook, I believe there’s a lot of value in heeding the notion of saying what you mean and doing so succinctly. The more you work to clearly and briefly articulate what you hope to convey to others – friends, strangers, customers, or anyone – the less they’ll have to work to hear and understand you. The more readily they understand you, the greater your chances that they’ll empathize and that your communications will be effective, influential, and lasting.
I’ll try to follow my own advice moving forward.
I’ve forgotten lots of stuff from my youth. But one lesson that stuck with me came from my guitar instructor. Although a nice guy for sure, I hadn’t thought of him as much of a sage back then. But what he shared makes sense in so many ways now. The message was this; No matter how great or terrible you are, no matter how hard you work or how little you work, no matter how normal or odd you may be, there will always be folks who like what you’re doing and always be folks who don’t.
I think as a kid that was a pretty frustrating thing actually. The notion that I couldn’t make everyone love me – or more specifically at the time, my original music – felt pretty unacceptable. And I suppose on some level, I’m still motivated to present the best ME I can to folks. But the older I get, the easier it becomes to understand and accept that no one is for absolutely everyone. Regardless of how hard we may try, we’re not a fit for everyone.
The same is absolutely true for business.
So let me present a question here. Is ANY customer a GOOD customer? Anyone who has experience running a business can tell you that some customers literally consume more resources than they’ll give back. And there are customers who make other customers’ experience a negative one. The truth is, while we may want to make all our prospective customers happy, we just can’t. And in some cases, taking on or striving to keep some customers, just becomes detrimental. Fit is extremely important. And if you’re doing your work right, some customers will just be a better fit than others.
I’m raising this point because I see a common mistake made frequently in small business clients. They’ll often frame their promotional efforts in a way that attempts to target everyone effectively. So they’ll load their collateral materials up with messages, send a plethora of seemingly random social media content and images to try representing everything that might possible connect with any takers. Unfortunately, in the process, they tend to reach very few in an effective, lasting way.
The moral? Don’t sacrifice your target markets in an attempt to satisfy or please everyone. While it’s generally a good idea to try not to offend, diluting your target market messages to satisfy the general, likely less loyal and lower revenue-generating masses will usually only lesson your impact.