Helping The Helper

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Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

Sometimes your target market isn’t who you think it is.

Famously, FedEx made the mistake of thinking that their clients were the CEO’s of companies when, of course, it was actually the secretaries and executive assistants who would be using their services. Marketing to the CEO’s failed. Marketing to the administrative staff succeeded. The most brilliant ad directed to the wrong person is doomed to fail.

A colleague of mine, a copy-writer, ran into a problem one day. His wife had come up with a relaxation CD for stressed out brides. He’d written the copy himself. It didn’t sell. He asked high-priced colleagues of his to help him out. It didn’t sell. He was flummoxed. When I looked at the situation, it seemed to me that he had his ladder leaned against the wrong wall to begin with. What bride is so self aware to realize she’s becoming a ‘bridezilla’? How likely is it that, in the midst of the madness that is modern wedding planning, that she would look for a relaxation CD rather than downing a bottle of wine or getting a massage. 

Does that mean it’s a terrible idea? Not necessarily. It might just mean that the bride’s mother or the bride’s maids might have been better target markets.

Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

A client of mine works for a mental health organization in a major city in Canada. They would do talks at Universities about mental illness. I suggested that he might get a stronger response if he did a talk about, “How To Help Your Friends Who Are Struggling With Mental Illness,” because those struggling are unlikely to show up at a talk when they could just watch a youtube at home. 

Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

Another client of mine is a death doula in Toronto with a background in Non-Violent Communication (NVC). She wanted to work with the dying but those dying are unlikely, in the turmoil they are in, to reach out and hire themselves a death doula. And, how would you market to them without it seeming crass? 

I suggested she create a workshop about, “How To Be With Your Loved Ones As They’re Dying,” in which she could tie together her background in NVC, empathic listening, healing and her death doula work. 

“If you do that,” I suggested. “You might find that these people want to hire you to support their families in helping them out as death begins its courteous but unwanted approach to their loved ones.”

A client who helps people with chronic pain realized that a target market for her might be caregivers to those who are in pain. If you help people with cancer, surely you could create a workshop on “How To Support Loved Ones Struggling With Cancer”.

Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who is it that’s helping the one I want to help?”

And then sometimes those people will connect you with the ones you really want to help.

About Tad

  • Jana Weldon

    This is spot on the topic I’m dealing with. Marketing Stress Management to stressed people isn’t working – go figure…

  • David Jurasek

    This is a brilliant perspective. So true in my experience! This can also make the journey less solitary and dependent on us (more sustainable) — to reach out to helpers means that now there are at least three people entwined in the growth process — two of whom will be in each others lives beyond what I can offer in the limited ways I can serve.