Why you should ignore negative feedback

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

As small business owners (and ergo – in most cases – small business marketers) we can often be driven by feedback from the wrong type of customer.

What do I mean by the wrong type of customer? The loudest, most critical or cynical customer – or more importantly, often *not* a customer – becomes the one we work hardest to serve.

You get a notification that someone has unsubscribed from your mailing list and think: “My content must be pissing people off.”

You chat to a friend at a party and they just don’t get it, so you think “I should change the language on my website.”

Or someone casually mentions that a competitor of yours is charging way too much and you think: “People will never pay full price for my service.”

And yet – this is the wrong way to look at it. While every ounce of feedback is worth a second look, it should also be taken with a grain of salt.

Think – is this person a likely customer?

Before you start marketing any of your products, it’s crucial you intimately understand the mindset of your customer. It can help to profile this customer – right down to name, what kind of job she has and how she spends her time. If you have a real customer you can model this on – even better!

When I share this advice with clients I often get told – “This won’t work for me. I don’t serve just one type of customer. I appeal to lots of different people.”

But the trouble is; when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

A detailed profile of your customer not only helps you model and price your products correctly, it helps in every touch point – from the imagery you choose on social media, the language you use in your captions down to the subject line you write for your emails. You always write for this customer – never for anyone else.

Of course, in reality you are going to have a variety of people come to your business – and that’s welcome, but your profiled customer is going to be your early adopter, your loudest advocate and will probably bring in the largest proportion of your sales.

Brands that focus on a niche audience tend to hold more clarity around their strategy, be more sophisticated in their marketing, maintain better consistency in their message, and – as a result – are better able to predict and experience growth.

For a detailed example of how this has been done for global lifestyle brand Anthropologie, read this long form article from Fast Company, titled Sophisticated Sell.

When you spend your time trying to convert an unlikely customer, you not only waste a lot of precious energy, you also miss an opportunity to help someone who actually wants what you have to sell.

Become clear on who you can best help, and save yourself on unnecessary arguments.

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