What is the key to success?


Bill Cosby is purported to have said, ""I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." Have you found that to be true? I have. I’ll give you a recent example.

I just launched a new website, PassiveIncomeForLawyers.com. Passive income is a hot topic and in a very short period of time, the site got a large number of visits and subscribers. Several attorneys have already joined me in the program. I’ve heard from many others who have said nice things about the program itself and about the way it is presented. The feedback has been very positive. Of course you usually don’t hear from people who don’t like something. They usually just quietly go away. But I did get the following email from one attorney:

"Please take me off of your miserable site. At first I thought you were legitimated, now we are getting the mass marketing crap. Passive income my ass! You wouldn’t know passive income if it hit you in the face. And what’s with the long winded motley fool type advertising site. Un professional. Get lost."

I didn’t reply, I simply removed him from the subscription list, and deleted his email. But then I got to thinking about what could be learned from his response and I retrieved the email. After all, this is not just anybody; according to his email signature, this individual is a partner in a firm of at least five lawyers. I presume he is influential. He may or may not be interested in something I offer, but I’d like to think he would reject the offer, not the person (me). But not only is he not a fan, he was so angry, he took the time to embarrass himself with this email.

From a marketing perspective, what should I do? He was turned off (to say the least) by the sales-y copy on my web page, although I have to wonder why he filled out the form to subscribe if he was so offended. Should I assume that others would be, too, and change it? Should I try to please the ones who don’t like what he calls "long winded motley fool type advertising," even though most people find it acceptable and the site is successful? The Motley Fool folks seem to be doing okay.

But if I create something that is less of what he does not like and it dramatically reduces the number of subscribers, I haven’t done myself any good, have I? So no, I shouldn’t try to please everyone. That truly is a formula for failure, and it’s an important marketing lesson.

Marketing is about metrics. You do something, measure the results, and compare those results to something else. It’s called testing, and it’s crucial to the success and profitability of any marketing campaign. So, I will create other versions of the web page and compare the results to the ones produced by the current one. Whichever version produces the highest percentage of conversions (subscribers) will become the "control," against which I will continue to test, seeking to best that control. But one does this to improve results, not in an effort to please anyone, let alone everyone.

You can’t please everyone anyway, and you’ll only hurt yourself if you try. So, as you design your marketing messages, intelligently consider the ethical standards of your bar association and your own sense of propriety, and perhaps the concerns of your spouse or partners, but beyond that, do what works best, and what works best is what brings in the most results.