Don’t Be Afraid To Be Polarizing

There is a phone app which essentially lets you be a member at many different exercise studios, going to all of them for the price of one membership. For customers, this is wonderful. Customers get to have needed variety while not breaking the bank. For instructors, the reaction has been much different. They may get larger classes, but they also get much less money from each attendee.

This comes up a lot in my coaching, and to deal with it I borrow a term from talk radio. In talk radio, there are 3 types of listeners. P1’s are the ones who will listen no matter what, only changing the station when you are not on. P2’s are the casual ones who flip around and stay if they find you interesting. P3’s are the ones who don’t like you, or even hate you, and will never be a listener. What businesses should be shooting for is to create as many P1’s as possible. Too often, they get caught up instead in a misguided attempt to get money from P2’s. Some places can be successful with this, Panera Bread has been a success serving adequate food to people who would just as easily go elsewhere, Budweiser sells beer which is relatively bland to offend as few people as possible. But with a loyal group of P1’s, things would be completely different, and I contend this is what most aspiring businesses really want.

As it pertains to this phone app for studios, the important thing to note is that complaining about the app is misguided. To any studio which complains about the app (and asks me for advice), I would say that the objective should be to modify classes to be more polarizing and create more P1’s in the process, not to complain about P2’s who come a few times and move on. The app is simply bringing you people who might not have found you otherwise. Some will love it, some won’t, but at least now there was a chance.

This concept is basically the same thing in dating, at least among those looking for long term relationships. Every client who comes to me with a relationship goal often starts by complaining that they can’t keep a P2 (or in many cases a P3!). There is always a story that something happened, and as a result someone who they were casually dating, or trying to date, didn’t stay around longer. I remind them that what they are really looking for is a P1, and this person wasn’t it. Things eventually change when someone is tired of this cycle, at least if they are aware it is happening.

Don’t be afraid to be polarizing. Whether it is in business or dating, imitating or trying to please the masses will grant you a lot of P2’s. By offering something different, you may turn some P2’s into P3’s, but you also will turn many P2’s into P1’s. And P1’s are what you really want, as customers, as romantic partners.


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