The value of unpopular
I’m reading the Power of Unpopular by Erika Napoletano. In it, she argues that when owning a business, being popular isn’t effective. In fact it makes harder to develop a successful business. She’s absolutely right. As any successful small business owner will tell you, they all have very specific, niche target audiences in mind for their businesses. They don’t want or need to be popular with anyone outside of that target audience. They also find that if they get too broad, they lose momentum. The reason why: People aren’t bland. So targeting a broad market doesn’t work well unless you can find some common characteristics that bind that market together.
And that’s the point behind the Power of Unpopular. Well one of them anyway. What makes unpopular powerful is the niching that occurs when you focus on a target market with specific interests and needs that your service or product fulfill. You can try to serve everyone, but you may end up serving no one or failing to reach people who’d be interested in what you offer. It’s better to identify specific characteristics that define your ideal market, and then use those characteristics to find your specific market.
For example, my target audience is small business owners. They are either solopreneurs or have only a few employees. They wear a variety of business hats, and they need help learning to delegate some of their responsibilities and/or learning how to run their business better than they are currently doing it. Those key characteristics are what define my niche audience. The only people I need to be popular with are those people. Everyone else I can be unpopular with and that works just fine for me.
The point is you don’t need to or want to be popular with everyone. You’ll never get full acceptance from everyone anyway, so its better to focus on the people who are interested in what you offer and want to learn more. Working with them, talking with them, and focusing on them will get you much further than focusing on everyone. Additionally you can build a community around a niche, and a niche community will support you, follow you and engage with you.
The problem with popular is you become bland. You end up in the background. Being unpopular allows you to stand out to the right people, the ones who will actually be interested in what you offer. Focus on those people, in your marketing message, and overall communication. The benefit is you’ll have their attention, interest, and eventually business if what you offer has superior value.