How well have you identified your real customer? Or are you still trying to please everybody? You can’t you know. If you try you end up not really pleasing anyone. Everyone ultimately has to choose who they’re trying to reach…or fail. Those are the end results. Some of us figure it out. And succeed famously. Some of us continue to try and be all things to all people. And never really become all that we could.
Mavericks at Work has a great section that works through the idea that not all customers are created equally. An important insight is that the "test of how committed a company is to its most important customers is how fearless it is about ignoring (even offending) customers who aren’t central to its mission (p. 185)." That’s big.
If you’ve ever tripped across Jones Soda then you know the idea even if it’s kind of subliminal. Peter von Stolk, the founder of Jones Soda says that "if you believe that a brand has to have a set of convictions, then you have to be prepared to piss people off. We don’t have to appeal to everyone. My attitude is, if you don’t like Jones, that’s cool. Don’t buy it, and have a nice day."
Think about that level of commitment to the customer that you’ve chosen. I really do believe this is an ingredient that distinguishes the truly effective organizations from the also-rans. Not easy to do. Nobody really likes saying "no" to some people. Well…most of us don’t like it. But it is absolutely essential. If you want to succeed you have to be willing to ignore the right people.
Can you dig it? What do you think about it? Are you doing it? Willing to start? Or committed to being all things?
Who is your primary customer is another post on the same subject with a different take.