Strangers, Critics, Friends or Fans

The work you do when you spread the word or run an ad or invent a policy is likely aimed at one of these four groups.

  • Strangers are customers to be, but not yet
  • Critics are those that would speak ill of you, or need to be converted
  • Friends are those that might have given permission, or even buy now and then
  • Fans are members of your tribe, supporters and insiders

You already know the truth: can't please all these groups at once. And you also probably realize that each of us with an idea to spread has a knee jerk default, the one we lean to without thinking. Many marketers are evangelical, focused on strangers at all costs… they'd rather convert a new customer than revisit an old one. A cubicle worker, on the other hand, might focus on no one but the boss, at the expense of broadening her platform.

Before you launch anything, run down the list. How can you optimize for the group you truly care about? How much is that optimization worth? (Hint: a new true fan is worth a thousand times as much as a slightly mollified critic).