Are You Trying to Appeal to Everyone?

“Trying to appeal to everyone is why you appeal to no one.”

Brian Clark (@copyblogger) tweeted that statement, and it resonated with me.

In fact, I took it so much to heart that I recently bit the bullet and specialized in my copywriting business, despite my urge to go after every random opportunity for work that presented itself.

Michele Peterson here … sharing with you this week how I’m making massive forward progress in my freelance career by adjusting my focus.

A key part was finally choosing a niche and becoming a specialist.

I knew the saying “a jack of all trades is master of none” was true … and that the "master” commands the highest fees from the best clients. But it was so hard for me to think about myself that way!

For example:

  • A medical specialist can bill higher fees than a general practitioner.
  • A master plumber who specializes in working on fire-suppressing sprinkler systems charges more than a general plumber who unclogs drains.
  • Custom cabinets built by a master carpenter are more costly than pre-fabricated cabinets installed by a general handyman.
  • A college graduate with a Master of Business Administration degree commands a higher salary (hopefully) than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Sure, the heart surgeon will not have as many patients as the general practitioner. But do you think that bothers her?

The fire-sprinkler plumber won’t get the calls to unclog drains. Do you think he cares?

This was a hard concept for me to “get.” I knew in my head that the idea of specializing in a niche – like self-help, financial, or travel – was a good one. It made logical sense.

But it was harder to put into day-to-day action. Honestly, it still is!

So I remind myself of some of the other benefits of being an industry-specific specialist:

  • Smaller learning curve with new clients.
  • Less competition.
  • Clients that you enjoy working with.
  • Projects that excite you.
  • And, yes, higher fees.

It’s hard to think of leaving money on the table by not offering a particular service or by not marketing to all types of businesses. But on the flip side, the more time and effort I spend on clients and projects that are not what I love, the less I have to market to those who are.

If I target my marketing strictly to my ideal clients – as a copywriter specializing in their industry – I’ll position myself as the logical best choice for them to hire.

And I’ll separate myself from the masses of other copywriters out there competing for business … at least in the eyes of my target market.

So instead of having one page of my general copywriting website devoted to wineries, now I’m creating an entire website devoted to copywriting services I provide specifically for the wine industry.

Will I still accept work from someone who isn’t in the wine industry? Yes … as long as I can leverage that work to build credibility within my niche. You can read more about that in my article “How to Leverage Work You Do Outside Your Niche to Build Credibility.”

I’ll do the project, leverage it to show a benefit to my ideal clients, and then get my focus back onto getting profitable work within my niche.

Bill Cosby said, “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.”

He’s right! I don’t need to please everyone, and neither do you. We just need to appeal to our ideal clients in our own specific niche.

If we do, success will come!

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Published: September 5, 2012

2 Responses to “Are You Trying to Appeal to Everyone?”

  1. Fantastic article, Michelle!

    I recently had to face this myself. And wouldn't you know that the best niche for me was the industry I was trying to leave!

    I realized that the "prison" I was trying to escape was actually handing me the keys to my freedom.

    Thanks again for this article. Reading it affirmed that what I am doing is the "write" thing to do.

    Steve Maurer Maurer Copywriting

    Steve Maurer

  2. Thank you for contributing this article. I really enjoyed reading it.

    In any business, you need to perform a SWOT analysis.

    What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?

    How can you leverage your "core competencies" to gain maximum benefit, that is, minimum effort and maximum returns?

    Finding your niche in the market is probably the way to go because it allows you to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Finding your niche means that you are now a specialist and can focus on only those tasks that you know you are good at and that your find personally meaningful.

    Archan Mehta


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