In an emergency, the phenomenon of “diffusion of responsibility” can be a huge problem. The short definition is that when an accident occurs and many people are around, everyone assumes someone else will take care of it. When a person yells “somebody call 911”, everyone often assumes that “somebody” means “somebody else”.
The same can happen in marketing. A few years back, I mentioned meeting an insurance salesman that sold literally every kind of insurance. As a consequence, I didn’t know what his real expertise was and had no idea what a good referral for him might look like. He was just looking for “somebody”.
In the book “The 1-Page Marketing Plan“, author Allan Dib shares a great example from a similar event:
Then, the IT guy stands up and says, “If you know somebody who needs help upgrading their computer system, please send them my way.” Who’s “somebody”? It’s somebody else; that’s who “somebody” is.
Specifics matter. There are a lot of people that need IT help, but it’s not generically “upgrading their computer system”. It’s more likely:
- Moving to a more accessible email platform.
- Making the file storage more secure.
- Connecting remote staff with cameras and tools for remote work.
- Making it easier for Janet to print the monthly reports without her computer crashing.
If I hear a person say “We are experts in migrating companies from outdated on-site file servers to secure cloud storage to help people work more efficiently“, I get it. When I hear of a person with a need like that, that’s the person I’ll call.
Everybody wants “somebody”, but the more often you can turn “somebody” into “that specific person” it’ll be a win for everyone.