If you try and please everyone, you will end up pleasing no-one.
The internet is getting better and better at curating material for you. This is purely because of advertising. If you create something with a broad appeal, something that could apply to a large audience, you will make little to no impact. In the late 20th Century you might have received some attention with a broad message, but as we now have an inconceivably large amount of content competing for attention only the most focused of topics and initiatives will pierce through the roaring wall of noise between you and your audience.
Targeting a large audience is tempting. Logic tells you that if you could just get a sliver of the pie it would still be substantial. But if you can’t actually reach anyone, or even pique their interest, because your message is too broad to compete, then the initial audience size is irrelevant. Reaching for the stars and landing on a cloud doesn’t apply here. You will just keep staring at the stars in frustration wondering why your feet haven’t even left the ground.
You need to drill down to a very specific level so that your content can seem personally created for one individual. People need this level of customization in order to take action. Building in this way from the outset will give you an advantage over the competition because you are not entering into the general fray. You are sidestepping the competition and reaching out directly to the audience you want to help.
Let’s take the topic of photography for example:
- Learn photography (too broad)
- Learn Portrait Photography (still broad)
- Actor Portraiture (somewhat focused)
- Female Actor Portraiture (focused)
- Female Actor Portraiture Editing (narrowly focused)
- Female Actor Portraiture Editing with a focus on skin re-touching (hyper-focused)
The first focus is incredibly broad and unless you have a household name (or at least a prominent name in photography) then your site will be pitted against the rest of the entire industry, which is completely saturated.
As we move down the list, we are getting more and more specific about our educational offering and our content becomes increasingly appealing towards the targeted audience of portrait photographers who work in the theatre/film industry and have an interest in female skin re-touching. If that was your area of interest, wouldn’t you dig a bit deeper to find out what that course had to offer?
How about another example, one with which I am very familiar:
- Guitar Lessons
- Beginner Guitar Lessons
- Acoustic Beginner Guitar Lessons
- Bluegrass Acoustic Beginner Guitar Lessons
- Beginner Bluegrass Strumming Patterns for Acoustic Guitar
- The same drilling down of specificity is present, and now I am appealing to my audience’s stage of development in addition to a specific genre (bluegrass) and component of that genre (strumming).
Once again, if you were a beginner guitarist interested in bluegrass this would grab your attention. Furthermore, the specificity of “strumming patterns” gives the him a clear focus of what they are going to learn, which ties into results based learning.
If you are hesitating to drill too deeply, so deep that there will be nobody there, then consider two things:
Firstly, the internet is large, huge, gigantic. Every time I am on a plane, looking down on sprawling cities as they pass underneath, I try and record the magnitude of the world we live in (I always seem to forget the scope a day later). Several hundred million people are eligible to receive your message. And, out of all those people, don’t you think there might be just 1,000 that are interested in learning about your specific topic? Yes.
Secondly, if in fact you are in a field where there is no-one currently serving your potential audience, then yes, feel free to go for a broader audience. With the proliferation of online teaching, a vacant space probably means that there is no audience available to build. However, there is always the off chance you have found a group of people that are not being served by anyone.
Drill Baby Drill
The first part of drilling down has to do with what you can offer. The second part has to do with who you are going to serve. Your niche audience.
To help your niche audience you need to understand them. You need to know what problems they have that you can solve. You need to know what kind of language they use so you can speak their language. You need to know everything about them. You need to build an avatar.