New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt says “the conscious brain thinks it’s the Oval office but is actually the press office, hastily assembling plausible explanations for decisions taken elsewhere”.

Rory Sutherland

I came across that quote while reading Rory Sutherland’s landmark book Alchemy, but it reminded me of something else entirely. When independent experts are asked about their target market, at least 80% will name some variation of “small and medium businesses”.The thing is, I don’t believe most of these answers came from any kind of conscious, “Oval office style” decision making. This is probably true even for the rest, who name “big corporations” as their market as well.

It’s just that when we begin going solo, some kinds of clients are simply easier to reach through the network of contacts that we already have, so we do that. After a while, the “press office” in our head thinks of plausible explanations for why these kinds of clients are the best target for us.

This is not in itself a bad thing, but having seen just how much difference an audience shift can do, I would just like to gently point out to some of you, that the “choice” you made a long time ago wasn’t really a choice. Maybe now, you have a chance to choose again, and choose clients that fit you better.


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