Back in April, I had the opportunity to meet up with some other business leaders for an intimate retreat in Mesa, AZ. While there, I met Ita Udo-Ema who helps small business owners with video marketing. During a discussion about core values and branding, Ita shared with us his approach to marketing, using the bell curve of statistical distribution to show why you shouldn’t be concerned with everyone liking you.
When looking at a bell curve, we know that straight off the bat, 50% of the population isn’t going to get you or your thing. 33% will be indifferent. 13% will like it. And then 2% will absolutely flip their lid for you and your thing. That 2% are your superfans — focus on them.
Targeting Your Superfans
Unfortunately, we see many brands trying to win over the two-thirds of the population who are just not that into them. They do this in the name of “expanding their market” and waste money, time, and resources on courting an audience who literally cares nothing about their product or service. Doing this can also take valuable resources away from your superfans — the 2% — and can leave them feeling neglected and disillusioned with the brand.
A great example of this is what happened with Shea Moisture earlier this year. Shea Moisture is a hair and beauty brand that has historically made products to serve black women and their kinky hair. While this seems like a very specific target audience, it is a community that is deeply in need of good products and is fiercely loyal to the brands they love. Instead of continuing to nurture this community, Shea Moisture chose to expand their market by going after all women — kinky hair or not. This new group of women are at most indifferent to them and at worst, don’t get the brand or understand the deep social, historical, and political anguish that is swirling around black women and their hair. In doing so, Shea Moisture completely alienated their core audience and quite frankly pissed them off.
Their desires to reach a greater audience or build the scope of the brand was a good idea with good intentions. However, the Shea Moisture team would have benefited from a different approach. We can think of several ways to have navigated through the pressure to grow verses growing with meaning.
- Shea Moisture could have further expanded into other markets where women with kinky hair are looking for good, inexpensive alternatives, like Canada or the Caribbean.
- They could have clearly defined that they were creating a new product line for women with straight hair, while still actively promoting and lifting up their original audience.
- They could have doubled down on their commitment to Black women and their hair and continued to expand within that community.
Unfortunately, they decided to try to be all things to everyone, at the expense of their existing community. When it comes to marketing and building community, that old saying: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, absolutely rings true.
Read on to learn more about connecting with your audience.