‘Mini-Me Targeting’: A Great Business Strategy or Maybe a Curse in Disguise?

“Vague direction leads to misalignment every time”

– Greg McKeown

My Target Group Is…

Startupper struggling to decide who should be your target audience?

Here’s an idea.

Pick yourself…

Whaaat?

Yes my friends – I am of course referring to the classic business strategy of going after people like you.

Or as Tim Ferriss likes to put it “be{ing} a member of your target market”.

But what’s the logic behind this advice?

And most importantly: is it any good?

Ok, let’s get straight in…

Mini-Me Targeting Is Here to Stay: Here is Why!

So, what’s the reasoning?

According to the ‘mini-me targeting’ supporters it mainly boils down to these 2:

– You build a product (& go-to-market plan) faster and better

Yep, knowing intimately your target group – which happens by definition when you’re one of them – gives you a great head start because…

…you’re already ‘inside their head’ & understand deeply stuff like their motivations, pain points, life situation, concerns, what they like, buying habits and much more.

The alternative?

Starting with a clean sheet, which quite often ends up being the reason you have to:

a) Carry out extensive market/customer research (which btw yes it takes time)

b) Make a ton of customer and market assumptions (or guesstimates if you will)

b) Unnecessary go through multiple iteration cycles until to figure out which of your assumptions (from your research findings) are true and which are dead wrong

The moral of the story in a sentence?

You guessed it – building stuff based on facts (and first-hand experience) and not assumptions is always better!

–  You have a better founder-market fit

Ok, this own is pretty obvious…

Being one of them makes you more relatable.

And especially when it comes to selling that’s pretty important.

Why?

Our friend Scot couldn’t have put it better:

“People like people that they can identify with. There’s an inherent sense of understanding injected into an interaction when you connect on something.”

That’s right – in business as in life, people tend to feel more comfortable around people like themselves…

Just think for a moment: when was the last time you bought something from a business based on the relatability factor?

As I guessed it – a ton!

So, assuming we all agree that market targeting (and positioning) can make or break a business and ‘mini-me targeting’ brings so much to the table is it time to choose ourselves?

Well, before making up our mind let’s first see what the other camp have to say…

Mini-Me Targeting: Overrated and Even Unnecessary  

Yes, not only overrated but even unnecessary.

You did read that correctly!

Why?

It’s simple – being an outsider enables you to see things with a fresh pair of eyes.

As cliché as it sounds, it’s true.

Or at least that what the claim is…

So, why coming with ‘a fresh pair of eyes’ is even an advantage?

Well, the assumption here is that contrary to the ‘mini-me targeting’ conduciveness towards group thinking, by being an outsider it’s easier to see things from a new angle, challenge long-held orthodoxies, and bring radical solutions to the market.

Sort of like the ‘diversity talk’ someone might add…

Take for example Dane Maxwell a big advocate of this line of thinking.

He started Paperless Pipeline, a transaction management software for real estate brokers (& made it an 8-figure business) WITHOUT being an estate broker himself.

Yes, he knew little to nothing about that market segment and just relied on his market research and in-depth one to one customer interviews…

His thought process?

“A lot of people get stuck because they’re very me-focused. ”What’s my passion? What are my interests? What are my skills?” Get away from YOU and completely shift to what the pain of the customer is and become passionate about improving their life.”

The verdict according to this school of thought?

Going after people just like you might give you a further edge on understanding where they are coming from but…

… nonetheless produces a myopic thinking that more often than not results in “business as usual” type of solutions.

And at the end of the day, since people don’t buy products but outcomes if the prescribed solution is as everything else in the market no amount of relatedness can save the day.

The alternative?

Introducing probable purchasers…

Probable Purchasers: The What, The How and The Why

The What:

“Probable Purchaser is the type of person who is perfectly suited to what you’re offering. Trying to appeal to everyone is a waste of time and money… By looking at the unique traits of what you’re offering and the corresponding worth of those characteristics to certain individuals [you can find your probable purchaser]”

– Josh Kaufman, The Personal MBA

The Why:

By finding out which people are perfectly suited to what you are offering not only you can support higher prices but also market more effectively the product.

The How:

Rather than abstractly thinking who should be your target audience before even to actually have a real product, take a critical look at what you have to offer, perform a classic market segmentation and then decide which market segment values your product more.

Conclusion

My take an all this?

Mini-me targeting is a great business strategy and won’t go away anytime soon for the very reasons listed above.

And as for the probable purchasers’ concept here is what I think:

Expecting to define your ideal target customer after you build the product is…

…A CAR CRASH WAITING TO HAPPEN!

The reason?

The regular readers already know the answer – because of the solution looking for a problem situation. Which is a BIG contributor why entrepreneurs come up with “solutions” for imaginary problems (or problems that people don’t care enough about for paying).

Having said that, the probable purchasers’ concept can be very much ‘deployed’ for brands repositioning and business spin-offs (with the necessary product re-engineering of course).

But what about the “fresh pair of eyes” advantage?

As harsh as may sound, I do believe with a few exceptions is mostly lip service from committed generalists that don’t know what they are talking about…

And with that said, let’s close this post with today’s takeaways:

Today’s Key Takeaways

– Mini-me targeting helps startuppers build stuff based on facts and not assumptions

– Defining your target customer post-building the product is a car crash waiting to happen

– Market targeting (and positioning) can make or break a business

***

Ok guys, that’s all from me for today.

If you enjoyed today’s post, check out my kindle book, The Aspiring Entrepreneur Entry Strategy: A practical step-by-step guide for finding a validated, winning business idea that stays true to who you are, that is currently available at Amazon.

I hope to see you soon.

Best,

Andreas

“Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing”

-Vince Lombardi

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