Is your marketing vanilla or pistachio?

What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream? Mine’s pistachio. Maybe yours is too. Or maybe it’s rum & raisin… coffee & walnut… chunky monkey! Whatever you like best, it’s unlikely to be vanilla.

Vanilla is fine, vanilla can be great, vanilla goes with most things, vanilla is… if not liked by everyone, at least unlikely to be actively disliked. Vanilla is mass marketing, designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. It may be nobody’s first choice but it’s an acceptable option. Vanilla marketing may get you clients but are they the clients you want?

Imagine pistachio marketing (or rum & raisin, etc.): unique, unlike any other flavour, distinctive taste, vibrant colour, not for everyone and sometimes hard to find but also a flavour that people actively seek out…

Vanilla Marketing Icecream

Wide appeal is diluted appeal

A big brand needs mass appeal to survive. It usually has the budget to reach out to a wide audience, and the resources to service everyone who responds.

However, as a coach, you don’t need to do this. In fact, it might be the worst possible strategy for you. If the whole world wanted your services it would be an ego boost but an impossible demand to fulfil. It’s not worth the effort it takes to try persuading everyone you’re right for them. That’s just trying to be vanilla ice cream – the mass catering option – instead, try being your flavour…

pistachio ice cream

Be exclusive. Be niche. Be pistachio.

I love pistachio ice cream. I seek it out. When I find a good one, I tell my friends about it, put it on Instagram, and when I can, I go back for more. I can’t honestly say the same for vanilla.

Trying to make your coaching appeal to everyone is a vanilla marketing strategy.

Find the pistachio-lovers

Don’t try to please everyone. Don’t chase followers. Instead, seek out people who will be true fans of what you do. (You only need 100 of them!) Reach out with them in mind. Build a community of people who love pistachio.

How? You build an offer around what your fans want, not need. People don’t buy needs, they buy wants. They might really ‘need’ something but people don’t like to talk or think about what they need to do. Secretly (unconsciously, even) they buy what they want and hope it solves their needs too.

So, find an audience that wants what you have (pistachio!), offer it to them, and then give them what they need.

Is your marketing vanilla or pistachio

Adding extra flavour

Vanilla marketing doesn’t actively repel anyone but it rarely on its own draws anyone closer to your business. They’re drawn to their favourite flavour so look for people who love the flavour you love. By all means, start with the usual vanilla but add a little extra – maybe a scoop of pistachio, or maybe just some sprinkles or syrup or marshmallow to start, but something that says more than vanilla.

You’ll find that the people that approach are drawn to you not despite the extra flavour but because of it

But… I don’t have a flavour!

You might not have a niche for your coaching services, or think that you don’t need one, or even that you can’t have one. I’ve heard all the excuses and it’s easier than you might think to find your niche. Many coaches I speak to already have one or are sitting on top of a great niche and just haven’t realised it yet.

Where’s your interest? Where’s your expertise? What grabs your attention even if you’re tired? Keep looking in that direction and you’ll find your niche, your flavour. (Check out our article, “How to niche your coaching business” to get started.)

Find your flavour and you can focus your marketing messages and conversations on those people who will be most interested in what you’re offering. Win-win!

Person disgusted by ice cream

Pistachio – it’s not for everyone and nor are you

The sooner you realise your flavour is not for everyone, the better. You don’t want the whole world knocking on your door, you want people who are interested and fascinated and passionate about the same things you are.

You can stop seeking universal appeal (unrealistic, probably impossible) and instead be true to who you are and the values that underpin what you do.

Yes, vanilla has its own kind of popularity: it’s known, it’s safe, it goes with everything – but that’s not niche or specialised (or fun!) Find your flavour, niche your business, and your appeal will be based on the unique differences you offer.

Not everyone will like it but those who do will love it, share it and recommend it far and wide to other pistachio fans. That’s how you grow a community of fans.

And when you’re surrounded by the pistachio ice cream fan club, there’s less stress about having to market and sell and pitch to attract clients. Instead, you can hang out with a like-minded community of people. You’re still marketing and pitching but with less pressure, because it’s to a receptive (even eager and, dare I say, fanatical) audience.

So, once more… What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?

If this blog has got you thinking then we think you’ll love the conversations, content and events inside Better Bolder Braver, our community for coaches. Learn more about Better Bolder Braver and join here. Among other activities, we host a weekly conversation with a coaching business or marketing expert which you can join via Crowdcast.

This blog post is inspired by the beautiful analogy from Karen Webber that she shared in the Monday Masterclass discussion on 26 July.

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