You Can’t Sell Everything To Everyone

I’ve noticed an interesting thing happen to some content creators lately. They are trying to do the impossible. What’s impossible in content creation? A few things, but one is to sell your stuff to everyone, ever, everywhere. It’s just not going to work.

Maybe that’s a little dramatic, so let me rephrase. Content creators were told:

“We sell a lot of different products. Our customers are urban, college-educated people over 40. Go.”

So then the content creator set out to sell everything their company has to every person that lives in a city, is college educated, and is over 40. That’s still a lot of people. And you know what? It doesn’t work. But they keep going, because shouldn’t you try sell the most stuff to the most people?

The answer is no. Companies have done a lot to ditch jargon, understand their customer, and target big groups of people (sell to women!). But then the ball drops, because it’s much easier to try to sell to a big group of people than to 100 smaller groups of people. Unfortunately, as with most things, the easy way isn’t the right way. People are all about individuality these days, so you’re going to have to do better. But before you panic, just think for a few minutes about what you sell. Does the person who buys your beef jerky also buy your vegan ice cream? No? What makes them different? What is each one like? Now you have a plan.

A good example to really illustrate this is a car company. They advertise with the hopes of selling new cars to consumers who will come to a dealership where there will be lots of options, but not all of those options are of interest. The car company has some assumptions: our customers have the money to purchase a brand new car, they are adults, they are interested in making an informed decision. Those are acceptable things to consider, but they don’t get very specific. So what do car companies do? They consider who is likely to purchase each individual car they sell, and adjust their language (and overall tone) accordingly. Consider Toyota:

They sell cars, a general group of products, but they don’t sell all of their cars to the same people in the same way. Look at the product page for their Tundra pick-up:

The Toyota Tundra is marketed in a specific way.

The language used is strong: “means business” and “work.” The pick-up in the picture is dirty, in a rural setting, and is kicking up dust. There is a clear customer that this is supposed to appeal to.

Compare that to the page for the Sienna minivan:

The Toyota Sienna is marketed in a specific way.

The background is simple, words like “daddy” evoke ideas of family, and there is a link to “Meet the world’s greatest parents” on YouTube. In addition, some major page real estate is dedicated to the car’s safety, which is a much more practical concern than speed or looks.

Finally, compare both of those to the Prius hybrid:

The Toyota Prius is marketed to a specific audience.

The graphics are a little quirkier, a little younger, and a little more tech savvy. There are interactive features, and the language suggests a younger crowd. The Prius commercial is also a great example:

Prius Family “Hum”

It’s got quirky animation and a quirky song. Notice the car is happily driving amongst nature, parking in front of a small business, and admired by people playing chess. All features a Prius owner may be (or wants to be perceived as being) interested in.

One company, similar general product, three very different marketing messages. They don’t just sell all the cars together and say “It’ll get you where you want to go,” because you already know that. Take a cue, and get more personal. Let your products shine, and sell them to the people who actually care. And no, unfortunately that doesn’t mean everyone.


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