You cannot please everyone online

Will Mrs Clinton rescue David Miliband?

Will Mrs Clinton rescue David Miliband?
Picture Courtesy: US Department of State.

The Miliband Brothers – it sounds more like a vaudeville song and dance act than a couple of politicians. But they both appear beset with the same fundamental problem – trying to please all of the people, all of the time. Yesterday, Ed Miliband gave a speech which was bland in the extreme. Indeed, Graham Davies, author of The Presentation Coach, said on BBC Radio Five Live last night that Ed Miliband made Gordon Brown look like the Billy Connolly of the Labour Party. That bad. Today, we hear that older brother David Miliband is pondering his future. Indeed, there are rumours he will focus on the USA where his friend Hillary Clinton may get him a job. Later today, the former Foreign Secretary will announce his plans – but have we ever spent so much time worrying ourselves about what the loser in an election will do? His media team is ensuring he continues to get front page coverage – no doubt much to the annoyance of his  younger brother. But why? Perhaps, like yesterday’s speech by Ed, brother David doesn’t want to upset anyone. No doubt he wants to please his brother and the people who did vote for him. He wants to please his constituents and he wants to avoid upsetting anyone else. Similarly, in Ed’s speech, his blandness arose because he was trying to be all things to all people. It looks like a family trait.

Here’s the issue they must face; you cannot please all the people all the time. You simply have to accept that some people will dislike what you say, that others will dislike the way you dress and yet more will dislike you as a person. Get real. If Ed had accepted this, he would have produced a much better speech as it would have focused on the people who were going to like what he had to say. Similarly, David could probably come to a decision much earlier if he were to focus on the one group he really wants to please – and ignore the rest.

They are, interestingly, behaving in much the same way as many website owners. Everywhere you look online there is plenty of advice on how to get “more people” to your website, how to attract “more visitors” and how to ensure you get “more followers” on the likes of Twitter. It is an approach which is ultimately doomed to failure. The only way you can get massive numbers is to appeal to everyone. And you can’t.

If your website tries to please everyone, ultimately it appeals to no-one. True, you will get millions of visitors, but they won’t become customers. They’ll visit, say hi and then naff off. Meanwhile, you look at your rankings and visitor statistics and go “fantastic, we’re getting loads of hits”. Yeah, right. It’s the same as a shop getting everyone in the High Street to walk in. Brilliant; but if they walk out again because it “isn’t for me”, what is the point?

Traffic does not equal income. Trying to be attractive to as many as people as possible is the sure-fire way to end up in financial trouble online. So, with your website, stop trying to appeal to as many people as you can. Stop trying to get those high traffic rankings. And stop trying to please everyone with each of your blog posts or articles.

Done right, your website will annoy many people. Done right your blog posts will make many people upset or angry. But done right your website will appeal to that specific target audience who you really want to make money from. If you produce your website to be pleasing to as many people as possible or if you write your content so that everyone is happy, you’ll end up being bland, bland, bland. And that means you could be another Miliband sibling….!

Postscript: As I finished writing this blog post, news arrived of controversy in Wales over the national flag’s absence from the council building in Monmouth. It seems that in spite of the world’s focus on the area due to the Ryder Cup, the local council is not flying the Welsh flag because, they say, the area also has importance for England. In other words, they are busy trying to please at least two different audiences and are ending up in controversy by doing so. Trying to please all the people all the time does not work.

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