To Succeed, Stop Trying To Please Everyone

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Many young entrepreneurs and small business owners make a common mistake when they launch their new business or a new product/service. They believe that at launch, they should always target as many customers as they can.

This seems logical. If your potential group of customers is larger, aren’t you more likely to succeed?

No.

It’s incredibly difficult to please everyone. Pleasing some people more means pleasing others less. There’s simply no way to create a good balance. This is true for inexperienced business owners and also for some of the world’s most successful Brands. For example, yesterday Apple unveiled the next version of its mobile operating system – iOS7. Some people were excited about the changes, but others found the new operating system confusing.

When you try to please everyone, you commit these three common mistakes that can easily destroy your business:

1. You lose focus on your core business. When you try to please everyone, you make compromises. Compromises weaken your brand. Look at the challenges Microsoft has faced over the years – in trying to be useful to as many people as possible, Microsoft has created software that’s difficult to use.

By focusing your efforts and not trying to please everyone, you will create a stronger brand and a more successful business. As I wrote previously,

Many businesses fail because their leaders lose focus while trying to incorporate all (or many) of their customers’ suggestions. It’s easy to fall prey to the “yes’ mentality. Saying yes makes us happy. We believe that saying yes is more likely to cause the customer to buy our product or service. Saying yes makes our customers happy.

Ultimately, don’t we want happy customers?

Of course we do. But making customers temporarily happy while destroying your company is, in my opinion, an unacceptable cost. No company has unlimited resources and when you say yes to customers  – you’re committing – and often, over-committing – those resources.

2. You confuse your customers. Your marketing messages should reinforce your brand. But if you try to please everyone, you have to either create targeted marketing messages that uniquely speak to different groups of customers, or sand down your messaging to create a common message that speaks to all customers. In either case, this creates confusion. Remember Netflix’s decision to create a separate DVD-by-mail division a few years ago? It was a complete disaster.

3. You become less agile. Successful companies can quickly adapt and evolve – both their products/services and their marketing. But agility requires discipline. Sixteen years ago, Apple had a dwindling share of the computer market. By consolidating its products and focusing its marketing, Apple has become one of the most successful companies in the world.

Saying “no” to customers can save your company. To succeed, stop trying to please everyone.

image credit: intherough