Concentric circles of customers: Focus on people who already share your worldviews

“Don’t try to market to everyone.” By now, this advice is obvious. We know we can’t appeal to everyone.

But what if you feel like your product really is for everyone? Where do you start?

One way to narrow down your focus is to think about your customers as concentric circles on a bullseye. In the center of the bullseye are your core customers. These are people who are die-hard fans, who completely “get it.” They are excited you exist.

Start by marketing to them, then expand outwards. This is especially valuable if you have limited resources and bandwidth.


You might want to be the default choice. But you can’t get to “everyone” in a single leap. The image of concentric circles tricks your brain into allowing you to target everyone--eventually. It’s simply that on your way to becoming the go-to product for the masses, you’ve got to go through lots of “circles” of people.

Facebook is a classic example. They started with Harvard students only. Then expanded to Ivy League universities. Then other universities. Then high schools. And now your grandpa and 14-year-old niece scroll through their newsfeeds daily.

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If SmartWool started off trying to be in the broad category of athletic wear, they might not be as big as they are now. But they started with odor-neutralizing merino wool and built a solid business being known for socks. And they grew from there. They now have tops, bottoms, sweaters, jackets--you name it.

At the center of the bullseye are people who deeply believe what you believe. Their worldview completely matches yours. This group waits for you to come out with your newest product and they’re excited to tell all their friends about it.

Once you’ve secured the center of your circle, only then should you start marketing to the next rung.

The mistake most companies make is they try to work on the entire circle at once. They scramble and run around trying to please folks on the outer rungs of the circle. But customers on the outer rungs are not the ones you should try to woo.

A better approach: When you saturate a rung, focus your energy on the next adjacent rung.

Forget people on the outer rungs. Later on, when everyone else joins—they’ll join too. Why? As social creatures, we care about what the people around us are buying, listening to, and watching.

So the people in the far outer rungs will be convinced when the rung closet to them starts talking about your product. Their close friends will eventually convince them for you.