Thought leadership

Just look for your own tiny little world

I love it when some of the world’s greatest thought leaders in the world say exactly what I have been thinking!

And recently it was Seth Godin (I should say ‘my friend’ Seth seeing as I interviewed him for my book….), who on one of his daily emails wrote the following about searching for the minimum viable audience….

Of course everyone wants to reach the maximum audience. To be seen by millions, to maximize return on investment, to have a huge impact.

And so we fall all over ourselves to dumb it down, average it out, pleasing everyone and anyone.

You can see the problem.

When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone. And if you’re not the irreplaceable, essential, one-of-a-kind changemaker, you never get a chance to engage with the market.

The solution is simple but counterintuitive: Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.

And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.

This is particularly true when it comes to Facebook ads and making them work.

I read this email as I was uploading another 15 people into one of my client’s custom audiences in Facebook (these are at the heart of Facebook’s artificial learning and fundamental for retargeting and creating lookalike audiences for ad campaigns.)

And I thought about it again as I went through a spreadsheet of another client’s webinar opt ins, and removed the 10 or so people who were friends/staff and, erm, myself from the opt ins, so that I would have 50 fresh and real names and real emails of real prospects to upload into a very new and small custom audience.

It’s very easy to think ‘15 new email addresses‘, or ‘50 new people‘ – Bah! And wonder why I am bothering manually sorting spreadsheets or removing people who aren’t real leads because they are employees of my clients. Because in the realms of the internet, 50 is nothing right so what difference does that make?

And that’s the way it’s easy to think in the beginning when you are going wild with excitement over internet marketing and imagining how your offer can reach the WHOLE. ENTIRE. WORLD (trust me I’ve been there with this sort of thinking).

But it leads to no results whatsoever!

If you think about it, 15 people in a room, or 50 people in a room, that’s quite a lot. Things are so skewed in our minds nowadays. We all think 50 likes on a photo is rubbish (in the online world) but 50 people is WAY more than came to my last birthday party for example (in the real world).

What makes a difference is when you remember that what we see as just a number is actually a real person.

When you stop thinking ‘50 people that’s terrible‘ and instead think ‘OK 50 people, that’s a decent roomful, I have a chance here to give them a message…...’ and focus on those people who are actually interested, rather than the bazillions you imagined you could reach on your first days or even months or even years of promoting your business online (erm…..if only it were that easy).

It’s not about reaching everyone, it’s about creating your own little world of people who are right for your offer and who are interested.

(In the beginning, when your little world is really really small, it is really important not to pollute it with people who aren’t right, like your employees, your friends and your mum. That’s why when I’m uploading data to custom audiences inside Facebook – ie, email lists of people who have signed up to webinars or free downloads – in the beginning, I screen them manually for anyone who isn’t actually a prospect and remove them. It’s worth the effort to keep the data accurate.)

And you know what, it’s amazing how, when you focus on just your own little world and really making your messaging great for them, and really demonstrating to them how you can help, how quickly it grows.

In April, with one client, I was doing the above, building up custom audiences of just a few dozen people and removing those manually who were people (staff/friends of) that business who were just nosying around and could never be prospects.

Now we have 300,000 people either in or on the fringes of our little world. If they were the people coming to my birthday party, around half of them would be in the house and the other half outside the front door or seeing the lights from across the road and starting to make their way across (and at this point I’d be phoning the police….). 

As another great thought leader once stated (and I have no idea who): From small acorns…..





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  • Honest Mum says:

    Adored this, vital to remember the importance of a small no less powerful audiences and that everyone matters. I still write as if only my Mum is reading: my first ever reader. Facebook gave me some great advice on bespoke advertising too recently.