Heard well by a few or ignored by many?

“Don’t count the people you reach, reach the people who count.”  This quote from advertising industry legend David Ogilvy could have been written last week. It wasn’t. Surprisingly, it’s from the early 1960s.

So, with today’s focus on accumulating followers across a plethora of social-media channels, has it become outmoded? I don’t think so.

When I first started out as a speaker and presenter, I was a newbie coach and frankly my ideal customer was anyone with a heartbeat and a credit card. More than a decade ago, I certainly wasn’t picky.

Then along came ABC Four Corners, filming me as part of a “new workstyles” segment and overnight my business went nuts.  A few months into working all day and all night and the penny dropped on the topic of selecting customers more carefully.

Thereafter, when invited to speak at events, I was less concerned with how many people were in the room and much more interested in who was in the room.  Similarly, when the phone rang with a coaching lead, I was careful to walk through a detailed intake questionnaire to make sure I was the right person for the job and the prospect was a good fit for me.

And I stopped having “quick coffees” with potential clients until I’d had the intake call. A move that saved me hours and hours of travel, wasted time and a growing coffee bill!

In a landscape where the count of friends, likers, followers and connections is hard to ignore, it’s easy to get drawn into a numbers game and feel inadequate if you’re not being pursued by the equivalent of a small nation. Instead we need to be sure we’re putting sufficient focus on precisely who we are trying to reach.

Armed with this clarity we can ensure the thrust of our marketing is directed towards attracting this group. Quality trumps quantity. To accomplish this we need to know precisely what we do and who for, and the tighter and sharper our proposition becomes, so we cut through the noise and become truly heard.

If you’ve ever sat in the audience at an event or watched a TED talk and thought the presenter could be talking directly to you – such was the force with which their message resonated – then you’ll know what I mean.

So, in the current business landscape where we have so many opportunities to spread our messages and so many shiny channels at our fingertips, just pause a little and review what you’re saying to whom and where.

Robert Gerrish, Founder, The flying solo online community and author of “The 1 minute commute”

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