It’s human nature to want to be liked, but it’s also a reality that not everyone will like you. In fact, the harder you try to be liked by everyone, the less your brand will stand out, and that will literally kill your business.
From this point on, you need to not only accept that some people won’t like you, but also not give a shit about it.
In any market, you will encounter:
- a small percentage of people who already like you
- a large percentage of people who may like you if given a reason
- a small percentage of people who will never like you
The people in group #1 already like you because they’ve found some commonality. It might be your personality traits, like high-energy, playful, or intellectual. It could be your background, like military service or activism for a particular cause. Or it may even be where you’re from. It could be almost anything.
The people in group #2 may like you if you give them a reason. Something that creates a connection.
The people in group #3 will never like you, and you won’t be able to change their minds. Think about someone you dislike. Is there anything they could ever do that would make you change your opinion of them? Nope, right? Everyone else behaves the same in this regard.
Here’s where most people screw up. They can’t handle the idea that someone doesn’t like them so they go out of their way to convert group #3. Except it always backfires, because when you try to appeal to everyone, you don’t give anyone a reason to choose you. You become a grey man and blend into the crowd.
You alienate people who already like you because you dilute what drew them to you in the first place. Out of fear of turning off some people, you dilute your brand to the point where you blend in, so you don’t give anyone a clear reason to choose you. And you don’t change the minds of the people who have already decided they don’t like you.
Here’s the thing—if you’re not turning some people off entirely, you’re not giving anyone a reason to be passionate about your brand.
Here are a few examples of brands that do a great job of giving people a reason to be passionate about their brand:
Counter Strike Coffee
Counter Strike Coffee, a veteran-owned business, has built a loyal and passionate customer base by primarily serving the veterans community. Veterans, especially those from the infantry, have a particular love for coffee because it kept us going on long missions.
Their brand doesn’t appeal to the average person because their language is rough and filled with military terminology. Check out their instructions for making coffee to see what I’m talking about. Or watch this video. (Speaking of which, Brandon, you need to turn the instructions for making coffee into a video, brother!)
Counter Strike Coffee’s founder, Brandon Buttery, knew this wouldn’t appeal to everyone. He wasn’t afraid to turn off the type of people who wouldn’t connect with this message because he knew fellow veterans would. In fact, by being true to his brand, he has built a community of veterans who proudly help him to promote it. If he had created another coffee company blathering on about their eco-friendly, negative carbon footprint, fair trade, hippie hippie rainbow coffee beans, they would have been drowned out by dozens of bigger coffee companies.
Hospitality Environments has transformed how hoteliers of 4 and 5-star hotels purchase beds. Nearly 3 decades of refinement has produced a bed that revolutionizes sleep and serves as a new profit center for hotels whose guests are eager to pay a premium to enjoy it.
These beds, more accurately titled sleep systems, aren’t for your typical consumer, though, because their price point is in the $10,000 range. They don’t offer special sales, a payment plan, or a less expensive model with fewer features. If you can’t afford it, you aren’t who they want to sell to. And they are completely happy turning away customers who aren’t the right fit.
Walter Viveiros, Hospitality Environment’s CEO, has positioned his brand in a way that enables them to sell these sleep systems, both to hoteliers who are accustomed to buying traditional beds at less than 1/10 the price, and to general customers who are accustomed to buying specialty beds at about 1/2 the price.
Ties.com sells, as you might have guessed, ties and tie-related accessories. Nothing else. If you’ve visited their site and noticed that they sell socks and cuff links, you might be thinking “Hah! They don’t just sell ties and tie accessories! You’re wrong and they are trying to cater to more people!” Well my slovenly-dressed friend—socks are a tie-related accessory because many men match their socks to their tie. Which they also match to their pocket square. (They sell those too.)
While most business owners would be tempted to add more products, like belts, shirts, or shoes, they’ve stuck to ties and tie accessories.
It might seem limiting, but when you’re looking for a tie that really expresses your personality, are you going to look at your local department store, or a place that literally specializes in ties? Add in the fact that you can find socks and a pocket square to match your tie—which can be a challenge in even the best-stocked men’s clothing stores, and it’s becomes a no-brainer.
Does this mean some people won’t like them? Damn right. That guy who wants to buy a cheap blue tie can find what he’s looking for at Walmart, and pick up a quart of oil, a pair of blue jeans, and some Cheetos while he’s there, and they don’t mind because he’s not the type of customer they’re looking for anyway.
Bottom line—stop worrying
Some people won’t like you and you shouldn’t give a shit, because the reason one person doesn’t like you may be the exact reason someone else is passionate about you. Give them a reason to connect with you and the right customers will be drawn to you.