Marketing – Don’t Try to Sell to Everyone

Get Results: for sale
Get Results: for sale

One of the most important things I’ve learned about Marketing is, you can’t and shouldn’t try to sell to everyone. Doing so means you’re not actually selling to anyone. The point is perfectly illustrated through the following tale:

The boy, old man and a donkey tale – don’t try to please everyone.

An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people that remarked: “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.” They then decided they both would walk!

Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.

Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.

The moral of the story? In Marketing, if you try to please everyone, you might as well… Kiss your ass good-bye.

Stay Focused

Instead of marketing to everyone, look to focus your marketing to a particular customer profile, who buys a particular product from you, maybe for a particular purpose. For example, mobile phones are a “must have” these days but who would be a typical customer for a mobile phone, and why might they look to make a purchase?

If I think about myself, a middle aged man, I want a phone to be functional by allowing me to make calls when I need to (network coverage), and offer a good payment plan (cost and value). I rarely purchase anything from the internet on my phone, so that is not one of my considerations when making a purchase. So in summary my buying criteria for a phone purchase would be:-

  • Connectivity (phone and internet works when I want it to, which I guess would be a universal requirement)
  • Payment plan deal – value for money
  • Cost and affordability

My buying decision doesn’t consider:-

  • How the phone looks
  • How well it plays games
  • How many text messages I get with it (I hate texting)
  • Internet access and social media connectivity (although I am finding myself spending more and more time doing these)
  • All the technology info ( I don’t care how it works, just that it does)

So if marketing to someone like me, Companies would have to make sure their marketing ticks my buying criteria. If instead they talk about how the phone looks and feels, and how well games play on it etc, then they are not appealing to me in any way.

If on the other hand they were marketing to my 12 year old daughter they would have to aim for a whole different buying criteria, where style and brand would be very important factors, as would texting and social media functionality

To further complicate the point, what if I am buying for my daughter as a gift. The phone company would have to consider my buying criteria as well as my daughters in this instance. They would have to appeal to my money consciousness, security issues, and my concerns about her ability to make calls in an emergency, while still providing the style my daughter would demand.


So it’s important to know who you’re trying to sell to and focus on them.

Is it a parent searching for a phone for their child? (security, able to make calls in emergency),  is it the child searching for themselves? (functionality, popularity of model, visual appeal), is it a geek buying a phone? (technical specifications). Each would need to be targeted differently. Speak to each in their language.

Hope you get something from this article, check out our marketing guide for more information.

For more information about USP’s