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The Law of Specificity – why it matters to talk to an audience of 1

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A deluge of marketing messages

The average person is exposed to over 5,000 marketing messages a day.

That is simply too much to absorb. Our brain goes into automatic unconscious reaction – sense, assess, ignore, delete and very rarely – engage.

Even taking it down to 50 messages that slip past the sense stage – how many would cut through? Speak to me? Directly to my world?

Why would I, anyone, pay attention?

Your client’s brain responds to their problems

Our brains are attracted to problems. It’s part of our evolutionary hard-wiring. Fundamental to our survival was the ability to sense, assess and respond to problems. A mistake could be fatal.

The key that most business owners miss is that they need to be problems that matter to your clients. Specific to them, right now.  Otherwise your message gets sensed and deleted.

Why target markets and most ideal client portraits miss the mark

A classic conversation we have with owners of accountancy firms:

dR: “Who is your ideal client?”

Owner: “A business earning between $1m & $5m with 8 staff or more.”

dR: “Any particular industry?”

Owner “No. [When pressed] Well we have experience with ….. [pick an industry / any industry]”

dR:  “And what are their specific challenges?”

Owner: “Well the same as everyone else – cashflow; budgeting; KPIs; reporting…”

No wonder they struggle to get attract new clients – everyone is no-one.

Even being industry-specific is not good enough. It needs to be much more specific.

An accountancy firm that helps engineering firms servicing the mining sector manage the downturn, so that they can be agile, flexible and profitable in these challenging times.

That is specific. That speaks to very specific profile and all of a sudden the CEO or GM of the firm will know three things:

  • You know me
  • You know my world – my challenges and frustrations
  • You can help

Now we are getting cut-through. Now your marketing message will be seen or heard.

  • Not just a specific industry – engineering
  • Not just specific target – services the mining industry
  • But one with a specific problem – managing the down-turn
  • And a specific outcome – agile, flexible and profitable

[Note: the outcome speaks to a psychological state of the profile – those that want to be proactive (not fear-based reactive) and uses their language – agile, flexible.]

The unspoken fear holding owners back

What holds most businesses from being specific is the fear of missing out.

They fear that by being specific they will miss out on other clients and therefore money.


The more clearly you talk to an audience of 1, talking to their world and their challenges and demonstrate that you can help, the more successful you will be.

Because the reality is that there is more than 1.

Many more – and in this digital age you can successfully reach them wherever they are. Your business could become the Mecca for “engineering firms servicing the mining sector, managing the down-turn so that they can be agile, flexible and profitable in these challenging times”.

Or whatever the specific challenges of the specific profile.

What if I have more than one service? Or more than one target profile?

Then speak to each one individually and create your marketing specific to them.

This is an age of digital printing and the ability to have multiple websites as well as a master-brand one.

One of our clients has 5 specific websites servicing 5 distinct audiences, as well as the main corporate website.

Being specific works

Pebble Design is a web-based business on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Established in 1998, it offered a generic level of services – web design, digital marketing, graphic design and photography – to a broad spectrum of industries.

Then in 2013 the owners took a brave decision. To focus exclusively on one group of clients: luxury hotels and wellness retreats that wanted more direct bookings. That’s all.

They are recognised as one of the Top 10 hotel web designers in the world.

They are ranked no 1 on Google for Hotel website designers.

They work with clients all over the world – from major international chains through to high end boutiques and luxury properties.

Their turnover has trebled in just 4 years.

Because it is easy to target those businesses. It is easy for those businesses to self-identify with the problems Pebble Design fix. It builds powerful word of mouth.

It works.

If you want any help in this area just call me on 0459 320 999 and I will happily discuss it with you.

Posted on 23 Feb 2017


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