30 Nov If you talk to everyone you say nothing
It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot but for me it’s one of the fundamentals that separates the great brands from the rest. You focus on one audience and talk to them. That’s it.
Leave the others to just bang on about their products with generic captions in the hope they can target as many people as possible.
When I talk to founders the thought of focussing on one audience terrifies them.
“But what about all those missed opportunities – we want everyone to buy from us!”
“How can we stand for and against issues we care about – that’s going to lose us a ton of customers😱”
Why its important
Your customers don’t just want you to take a stand on something and show your human side they’re GAGGING for it. It’s how they choose who to buy from and it makes their decision so much easier when they can flick to their favourite brand account who they know will share something they love.
There are 2 massive benefits of focussing on one audience:
You’ll be seen as a leader by your tribe as you’re willing to step up and talk about the things they care about when everyone else is too scared. That’s going to form the trust and emotional connection essential to turn them into superfans for life. And it won’t hurt your positioning against your competitors who all sound the same.
The more your true fans love you the more they’ll spread with word. But not just to anyone, to people who are just like them. So that means every customer they bring in is far more likely to become a superfan who keeps coming back whilst spreading the word to more similar people. And so it grows. That’s your organic marketing sorted.
Bu there’s also another benefit that most people overlook.
A story about mapo tofu🍜
Im not vegan but I like to cook vegan once in a while. Im definitely not the core customer for a vegan brand.
I was looking for a decent vegan mince to make some mapo tofu (one of my favourite easy winners – great recipe here).
So I dug around a bit and saw that Omnifoods was very popular with some of my vegan Asian food crew.
Omni are Asian owned and talk a lot about Asian food. They have huge love from this community that they nurture with their content and story.
It only took a few declarations of love from people I trusted to hit buy.
At any moment you will have new customers deciding if they should buy your product.
They could be passing through your neighbourhood, they could have a sudden need to buy your product for the first time like me.
What’s the first thing you do when trying something unfamiliar? You Google the crap out of it and ask your mates.
Are you going to go with the brand that everyone says are incredible or the one people like but not love?
It’s a no brainer.
By focussing on your one audience, the love from them will spill over to all those new customers weighing up their options. The people that need a nudge when deciding if they should give up their precious time and money on you.
Maybe they’ll join your cult of followers. Maybe they’ll never come back. But you made a sale from someone who had a lot of options. And those sales add up.
Or you could stick to playing it safe with generic captions that play it safe and don’t talk to anyone. No first time customers being persuaded, no tribe being built.
How do you find your core audience?
- Gather your data sources
- Research who they are and what they want
People think you need to spend a fortune on customer research. Im a huge fan of customer research but there are much cheaper ways to start. Once you see the value of doing the research, then you can make a case to invest in deeper customer research.
What you’re looking for here are the customers that don’t just like you, they LOVE you. These are the ones who keep coming back whilst spreading the word and are the backbone of your business
1. Gather your data sources
Email surveys are a great way to start. Build a survey out focussing on the research points I cover below. Keep it simple and aim for around a 5 minute survey. Don’t forget to add in a few open ended questions.
Nothing beats in person research. Invite some of your most engaged followers from social and also put in an invite at the end of your email survey offering an incentive. You could do as a group in the restaurant or some 1:1 30 minute surveys on the phone/zoom. This is where you’ll find the real gold about why people really love you and what they want.
This is such an easy one but so overlooked. Go through your key social media channel (probably IG) and look over the profiles of some of your most engaged followers. Really look. What do they share, what language do they use, what are they into? Now do the same for some of your closest competitors (see below for competitor research).
You’ll quickly see that these people love film, music, culture, art, travel and they don’t just like food…THEY LOVE IT. Eating it, cooking it, sharing it, watching it.
Most likely they’re just like you. And just like you they want to hear from other humans not a brand that sounds like a robot. Which is great news as you now have a shit load more to talk about!
2. Who are they and what do they want
What they’re into
- What they do for fun
- What they like to talk about
- What are their key media sources
- What are they most passionate about
- What causes are they into
- What do they hate
- What are their goals
- What are their values
This is the most overlooked part. Ultimately your product is solving a pain point for your customers. The more you understand their pain points when they make decisions and how your product solves those problems the more they’re going to connect with you.
What you’re looking for is the emotions they feel before they come to you and the emotions they feel after. Your communications should be tapping into those emotions as much as possible
- What are their day to day struggles (not just food related) eg money, time, stress
- What do they want from life
- What are their fears
- What does their world look like after they come and buy from you? How are solving their fears and desires?
Personality archetypes – the ninja pro tip!
To really flesh this into a human personality you need to pick 2 characteristic types for them. Personality archetypes are the easiest way to do this. Have a look at this guide to archetypes. From your research pick the 2 that most resonate with you. It’s hard but you can only pick 2 or else you risk trying to be all things to all people again and defeat the purpose of this exercise
Remember it’s like dating – you need to create a brand personality that will cause the biggest attraction from your customers and it start with knowing their personality.
The final part is competitor research. This is important as your brand will always sit in relation to your competitors from your audience’s perspective. You need to learn why they choose others and why they choose you.
The first thing is make a list of 5 competitors – can be direct competitors or share of wallet which means other brands people will consider when deciding to pick yours eg if you were a cool ramen brand like Tonkotsu, you wouldn’t just consider ramen restaurants but other comforting food in a cool environment like Pizza Pilgrims or Flat Iron. A good rule of thumb is 3 direct and 2 non direct
Take some time to go through reviews both on Google and on social where people have tagged them in and look at what people say
- The language
- What they love and where there are frustrations
- Look for what they’re not saying also – do they just focus on the food, are there key parts of the story from your competitors that aren’t being picked up on?
Go through their social profiles just like for your followers as they will be very similar. You’re looking for patterns and gaps here.
Patterns – what things do you see keep coming up again and again?
Gaps – where are the frustrations and gaps with a need not being met? This is your chance to step in and fill that gap
The point of all of this is to flesh out as real a human personality as you can. So document everything you just learned and this is your north star when communicating. Every time you write a social media post, blog post, email, whatever, think about this person, put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself ‘Why would I care?’
Be patient and commit
Building a brand that brings intense joy and loyalty is a commitment. It takes years and is the compounded sum of all your efforts. Every story you share, every customer service call, every moment of joy you bring.
Conversely, every negative experience, every boring post, every inconsistency between what you promise and the reality drives your tribe further away.
Focussing on one audience takes courage and is hard but its why everyone else doesn’t do this. Once you start building a loyal tribe you make it impossible for your competitors to catch you.
The one thing
I always say you’re better off talking about the movie you saw last night than firing off a list of the ingredients in your food if you really want to build an engaged community who connect with you
So when you’re thinking about your next posts talk about something, anything you care about. A book that inspired you, a film you love, a bad practise you think is making the world a worse place.
Worst case someone think ‘meh’ and keeps scrolling. And best case? They’ll fkng love you for it and stick around for more.
PS I still have no idea when vegan mince is cooked and what an ideal texture should be so end up nuking it every time. Any advice gratefully received🙏
PPS Focussing on one true audience is one of the biblical commandments for turning your customers into a cult following. From my obsession with building cult brands I’ve created the cult food brand quiz Any food brand can now learn where you stack up and what you need to achieve cult status. It only takes a few minutes to do and you’ll get a report with loads of actionable advice at the end, customised for you. Take the quiz here