sly : marketing

My First Marketing Mistake

the power of one

It’s close to ten years ago, but I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was one of my first experiences with marketing. I had only one thought in my mind, and this thought alone was clouding my judgement.

The only thing on my mind at that particular day was to reach as many people as possible with my message. To me, at that time, marketing was all about spreading the word to the whole world at the same time. I didn’t care about people. I didn’t think of it as a process of communicating to people. To me, marketing was nothing but a numbers game.

The numbers game

I’ve talked to a lot of people, and many of them still think of marketing as a numbers game. The more emails you send, the more systems you use, the more blog posts you publish, the more people you reach, the better you’re marketing is. To me, this was my first marketing mistake, and one that I won’t be making again.

Well, it’s true that the more people you send your message to, the higher chance you’ll have that one person will see your message. But still, this was my first marketing mistake.

The power of one

It took me a long time to realize that marketing is in fact a numbers game, but the number is always one.

When I write a blog post, I always write the blog post to one person. I have always one person in mind. It can be a specific person, one of my readers, or just an imaginary friend. No matter what the message is, I am always writing to one person.

When I create an advertisement, I always create the advertisement to one person, and one person only. To me, it’s very important to find the ideal person (who are you selling to), and communicate to this person only.

Why it works

We’re all individuals, and we all think that we’re different, that we’re special. Nobody is quite like us. That’s true, well, to a point. On the other hand, there are groups of people, thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people, and even millions of people who like the same stuff.

You should create the perfect blog post, or the perfect advertisement, or the perfect marketing strategy to one person. If you do, the chances are very high that this blog post, this advertisement or the marketing strategy will be perfect for thousands of people.

– because there are always thousands of people.

What matters the most is to find the perfect someone (in your mind), and communicate your message to her.

Image: Flickr

22 responses to “My First Marketing Mistake”

  1. TristanH says:

    I agree, Jens. Big numbers are a means to an end, not the end itself.

    I love this: “You should create the perfect blog post, or the perfect advertisement, or the perfect marketing strategy to one person. If you do, the chances are very high that this blog post, this advertisement or the marketing strategy will be perfect for thousands of people.”

    That’s so true! I think that a big part of this is knowing your audience well. If you’re in touch with your audience, you know what that “one person” needs. And if you know what that one person needs, you pretty much know what most everyone else needs.

    Thanks for a great post and a great reminder of what really matters here.

  2. Ric Nunez says:

    Hey Jens, Happy new year!
    I agree with you. I all about the numbers… the right numbers. Is we do it trying to reach a huge amount of people is like spam, we try to reach a a lot but in the end only a small percentage is reached. If we do it right (targeted) we need less people and get a higher conversion rate.

    • Happy new year to you too!

      How’s everything going? Have you created an iPhone app yet?

      Targeting the right people is something I’ll be focusing on this year. I’ll be more focused on communicating with few people, but the right people 🙂

  3. So, I guess you finally understood the strategies and probably the total marketing after that million dollar mistake.

  4. Pete Carr says:

    Hi Jens,
    I had never thought of targeting one person. Now you have explained the importance of it, it rings a small bell inside my head.
    As our blogs grow, we get a better picture of who is reading it, that is then our “One” so to speak.
    Hope I have understood correctly.

  5. Well, I’m still learning, but I won’t be making that mistake again 🙂

  6. Peggy Baron says:

    Great insights, Jens!
    To add another reason why to use the power of one – it’s a lot less scary! When I first managed to grow my list, I would get intimidated by the number of people my little ole’ email was going to go out to. So I learned to push those thoughts aside and write the email to ONE person I had in my mind. And I would get replies back saying “Great email! You write like you’re talking to ME.” That’s a great compliment.


    • I never thought about this, what you’re saying is important. Thinking about one person you have in mind makes everything a lot less scary. I remember when I first started out, and I was joining safelists and traffic exchanges and I was thinking about sending messages to thousands of people… that was scary and didn’t work at all 🙂

      Thanks a lot for adding value to my blog post Peggy.

  7. Great thought. I’ve been marketing online since 2001 and loving (almost) every minute of it. I see this mistake made over and over again by so many people. There is no point trying to sell combs to bald people!

  8. That’s a great quote, and one that we should learn from. A lot of people I talk to don’t think about targeting their marketing. It’s very hard to get any sales if we don’t target the right people.

    Thanks a lot for your comment.

  9. ipad apps uk says:

    Thanks for sharing it. it helpful for internet marketing.

  10. Ishan says:

    This was a mistake I made too. I tried to write for everyone and ended up with posts that were for no one. Keeping ideal reader in mind is absolutely important.
    Thanks for the great post. Retweeted.

    • That’s exactly what I did, when we try to reach out and connect with everybody we usually end up with no one 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment and the retweet Ishan, much appreciated.

  11. Murray Lunn says:

    That’s what it’s all about Jens – it’s a radical shift from trying to blast a message out there like they used to – it’s all about those personal connections again because there’s just so much noise in the marketing landscape that the only way to really interact with others is by having a clear voice which is perfectly focused to just that one person.

    I try to avoid going after the broad market (although it can be hard); some of my content and messages get passed over but I know there’s people out there listening which always makes me smile that someone benefited from it.

  12. To be honest Jens I’ve never really approached my writing like that— directing my thoughts and words to just one person…Very interesting way that I’m going to think about.

    But I do love your point here about marketing for communication vs marketing just to get in front of people. What a difference there is between the two! That’s why I love content marketing on the internet—it’s not interruptive…it’s based on needs and searchers. Very cool.

    Good stuff buddy.

    • To me, the only way to market online is by content. I have tested various things, but I always end up with content. It works, and it’s so much more fun to connect with people, and help them.

      Thanks a lot for your comment Marcus.

  13. Thanks a lot for your feedback.

  14. Me too. I try to stay away from the broad market, although my blog is not a niche blog. I haven’t really been doing a lot of networking with other people, because I’ve had too little time. But that’s my next big project (as soon as I finish writing my novel).

    Thanks a lot for your comment.

  15. Thanks a lot for your feedback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe: rss | email | twitter | +