So here’s the other thing.
I’ll admit it’s possible my Ideal Customer may be a whole lot less cranky than I am.
But isn’t it also possible they may, like me, be very tired of being on someone’s mailing list? Tired of endless newsletters and personalized offers of things we never signed up for? In other words, aren’t they tired of constantly being sold to?
If that's true, then how can I use - let's call them persuasive measures - on other people when I don't like them used on me?
So I'm back to being troubled by all the advice for finding people to take my self-publishing course. (See Part One)
Depending on who you ask – I need to first get someone on my email list. Then set up a series of emails so that I write to everyone on my list every other day. Or maybe just five times. Then follow up with a newsletter. And this is supposed to show that I care.
But suppose again, my Ideal Customer is like me? Wouldn’t they also think being on a mass mailing – even when it’s got our very own name – doesn’t mean the writer cares about us one bit?
It’s a lot like CVS asking me how was my last visit every time I walk out of the store. When I know if CVS cared about my opinion, they’d eliminate that awful woman’s voice who scolds me about not placing items in the checkout area even though I have.
I’m afraid that during the pandemic, a few too many marketers discovered they had a captive audience. So a free webinar on how to live your best life, buy your first Bitcoin, make a million dollars with a side hustle sounded like a good idea for reaching millions of people at home, working or not, bored and desperate for something to do.
And newsletters, even if they had no real news, were a way to make people feel connected. But do they?
In this week's newsletters, I learned - at least three people don't want me to make the same mistake they made when they started out. The mistake? They didn't build their email list earlier. This means, I guess, they think I wanted to hear from them a year ago.
At the end of every newsletter, I'm supposed to have what's known as A Call to Action. Meaning we should all sign up for - a master class worth $1200 available right now for $497; a membership circle for only $20 a month; and the one that makes me smile – an even better newsletter for only $97 a year.
I could stick to the news but it turns out both papers I read, the NYTimes and The Washington Post, have figured out how to slip ads in between the paragraphs so I can get the only boots I’ll ever need and a sports bra that won’t make me feel trapped, whenever I want to find out what’s going on in the world.
The point is – Where is the advice that will show me what I need to do to reach people so that I’m not repeating all the methods that I, personally, find annoying? I can’t seem to get past believing a lot of other people feel the same way.
Or is it just that, as a customer, I’m less than ideal?
Image by Microsoft Design
I’m putting together a course for authors on how to publish their own books.
I’m not a natural salesperson. I’m not a budding entrepreneur. I need all the help I can get.
And I’m getting an awful lot of advice on how to make people aware of the class.
Evidently, there are a few things I must do to be successful –
I get it up to a point. It’s true, if I’m teaching a course on how to self-publish and I already know how, I’m not going to sign up. But beyond that? It doesn't really make sense.
Here’s what I mean.
Just yesterday, I was given this guidance for finding my Ideal Customer.
Write down – their gender, age, location, job, education, homelife, entertainment, goals, role models, and shopping habits. What are their biggest fears? Their greatest desires?
This feels a little creepy. A little like what we’re trying to get Big Tech not to do to us.
The next bit of advice wasn’t any better.
I was told to figure out their "pain points." Understand "what keeps them up at night." What kind of "transformation" can they expect from my class?
To be honest. I have no idea. If they’re in pain and up all night, a class on self-publishing isn’t going to help. And offering transformation is asking a lot.
True, you can’t please everyone all the time. But just because a forty-five-year-old woman drives a Subaru and watches “Succession,” there’s no real way to predict she’s going to want to learn how to publish a book.
In fact for me, the only thing that matters is whether someone wants to learn self-publishing. Their gender, age, location, habits and hobbies don’t mean anything.
And yet. This ideal customer advice has somehow become standard.
Sometimes, when I feel like I’m the only one veering away from common wisdom, I check in with ChatGPT to see if it can do a better job of putting into words what I’m trying to say.
And this is what it told me.
Knowing your ideal customer is no longer adequate to understand today's consumer landscape. Instead of relying on a single profile, businesses should take a flexible and nuanced approach to understanding their target audience.
Exactly what I was trying to say. Flexible and nuanced. Just like me.
Photo by Microsoft designer
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