Volkswagen Phaeton

Stop Trying To Please Everyone – Or Die Trying

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

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Looking to increase sales? Then reduce the size of your potential customer base.


Depending on what you’re selling, you may want to narrow your audience. Why?

  • You’re never going to make everyone happy
  • Human beings love to pigeonhole

We’ve all heard the phrase “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” What’s worse is that you can die trying. It’s a commercial fact that not everyone will like what you sell. And that’s OK.

Pleasing All Of The People All Of The Time

Trying to convert people to your way of thinking is an exercise in futility – just ask a Jehovah’s Witness. Many of the world’s strongest brands are the one’s with the most polarizing reactions to them. There are plenty of professional photographers who love Canon cameras, but there are just as many die-hard Nikon fans who wouldn’t touch an EOS 1DS with a bargepole.

Ferrari vs. Porsche, Microsoft vs. Apple – the list is endless.

Instead, spend your time talking to people who want to hear to what you have to say. Once you’ve defined who you are and what you do, make sure that stick to your guns regardless. Even if that means losing the odd potential customer on the way.  It’s like that time when I fired a client.

Here’s another example: One of the services that we offer our clients is the creation, development and (if required) management of a company’s social media activities. Perhaps you feel that your company should be on Facebook, have a Twitter account, or a blog – but you don’t have anyone internally that can take all of that on. That’s where we come in.

However, maybe you don’t see the value in social media. Perhaps you think that it’s all a waste of time and doesn’t bring any concrete benefits or ROI.

Now, I may well disagree with you. But is it my job to convince you that social media is important for your business?  From my perspective, I’d say it’s not. There are plenty of other companies that have already accepted that they need to do something with regards to social media. They therefore will be a lot more receptive to my value offering. My opinion is that if you haven’t accepted that you have a problem, I’m not going to waste my time trying to convince you otherwise – Life’s too short. The only exception I could see would be if you had hired me on a consultative basis to make recommendations, in which case I think that part of my job would be to give you my professional opinion, and try to make you see the error of your ways.

Target Your Audience

Narrowing your niche is becoming more and more important in order to stand out from your competition in the minds of your customers. Rather than spreading yourself thinly trying to be all things to all people, today it’s about providing a specific solution to a specific problem – directed to a specific set of people.

As humans we like to pigeonhole. Company X, is known for Product Y, at Price Z. In 1989 Toyota wanted to create a luxury car, but they realized that people didn’t associate the Toyota brand with high-priced, premium motoring. So, instead of calling the car a Toyota, they called it a Lexus.

Conversely in 2002 Volkswagen introduced the Phaeton, a $100,000 luxury executive car to complete with the best from BMW and Mercedes. Apparently the car is amazing, but no-one’s buying it.  I would suggest that one of the reasons is that people don’t associate spending 100 big ones on a Vee-Dub, no matter how wonderful it is.*

It’s sounds the wrong way around, but narrowing your niche can bring in more sales. Validate your sales niche, refine the business value offering and communication – and then steadfastly ignore everyone who doesn’t share your point-of-view. Only address the prospective customers that sit in that niche (if they’re not there, then your niche isn’t commercially sustainable – in which case you have a different problem altogether).

Speak with them, connect with them. It’s easier than speaking to everyone, since your niche is already more receptive to what you have to say.  Without having prospective customers on side it’s an uphill battle to close sales.

Just ask VW.

*Most of VW’s R&D and manufacturing costs for the Phaeton haven’t gone to waste. Much of its internals can be found in the Bentley Continental GT, Bentley Continental Flying Spur, and the Audi R8 – cars that in cost (even) more than the Phaeton. It’s funny how people have less of a problem spending $200,000 on a VW when it’s called a Bentley.

Image Source: VW

About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha is CEO and founder of KEXINO. He's been a marketer since the days of 56K modems, lectures on marketing and behavioral economics at a European business school, and was noted as one of the top 100 global business influencers by (those wonderful people who make financial software).

Originally from London, today Gee lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and young son.

Find out more about Gee at Follow him on Twitter at KEXINO, on Facebook at, or on LinkedIn at


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