• Alan Shoebridge

To communicators, ‘nobody’ is a dead end. ‘Not everyone’ is an opportunity worth pursuing

My biggest pet peeve as a professional marketer and communicator is hearing people say “nobody knows about us.” Closely related is hearing people tell me that, “nobody does <XYZ>.” Just go ahead and plug in reads email, watches TV, uses Facebook, listens to the radio, etc. into that blank space. It might seem like no big deal, but here’s why that statement bugs me so much.

Let’s start off with the fact that it’s simply not true. If nobody does those things, why do those mediums exist and in some cases have millions and billions of users worldwide? Obviously, SOMEONE is using those communication channels on a frequent basis.

I think what people really mean to say isn't "nobody," but rather “not everyone." As in “not everyone listens to the radio” or “not everyone reads their email.” That perspective is a lot different than saying “nobody” does those things.

And if you ever doubt than anyone is doing those things, insert a typo in your email, mess up the URL on your TV spot or put a broken link in your social media post. Miraculously, all those people who are NOT paying attention to your communications suddenly become very active and aggressive in pointing out your mistake. Pro tip: Do not do any of those things on purpose; please just take my word for it!

The reality is that all the mediums that were relevant 20 years ago are still relevant today - just to different degrees depending on who your audience is for a given product, service or event. Diversifying your approach is ideal if you have the budget to do it. There is simply no perfect way to reach everyone all the time, or to make them understand your message or care about your brand. We might understand that as marketers and communicators, but it's a difficult concept to covey to others outside of our profession.

Isn't this all just pointless semantics?


It may seem like nuance to some, but to professional marketers and communicators the difference between “nobody” and “not everyone” is significant.

You can build a strategy to chip away at “not everyone” and reach the members of that group that matter most to you as potential customers. In contrast, truly reaching “nobody” would be a reason to just pack it in and give up. Hearing that “nobody does XYZ” devalues your work.

The distinction between "nobody" and "not everyone" matters greatly in the work we do.

Looking for more on this topic? Read ‘Nobody knows about us’ – Avoid the eye roll and build a strategy.

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