Culture and Clientele

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Recently read a post by Seth Godin about choosing your clientele that resonated with me.

I’m defining pandering as using your perception of your customer’s wishes as an excuse to do work you’re not proud of. The public radio station that puts on empty, sensationalist coverage of the current crisis-of-the-year is chasing others down the rabbithole, a chase it can’t (and doesn’t want to) win. [The excuse is always the same—it’s what the listeners want!] The bookstore that gives customers toys, games and other junk to survive won’t long be able to call itself a bookstore. The restaurant that eagerly serves kids salty, fatty, tasteless junk food because that’s all they will eat is inevitably training an entire generation not to eat at restaurants when they grow up. The architect who proclaims that times are tough and ends up doing nothing but ticky tacky work because it’s easy to sell gets the clients he deserves.The copywriter/editor who trades in meaning for lists, using calculated SEO keyword loading and sensationalism designed to attract the drive-by audience, earns the privilege of doing it again and again, forever. The reason you don’t have to pander is that you’re not in a hurry and you don’t need everyone to embrace you and your work. When you focus on the weird, passionate, interesting segment of the audience, you can do extraordinary work for a few (and watch it spread) instead of starting from a place of average. Go ahead and make something for the elites. Not the elites of class or wealth, but the elites of curiosity, passion and taste. Every great thing ever created was created by and for this group. There’s a surprisingly large amount of room at the this end of the market–among those that care enough about what they do to say no, and better yet, to teach the market why they’re right.

I don’t want the richest or the biggest clients. I already worked at a firm for six years that did that.

I want the coolest clients. I’m looking for the entrepreneur who is so passionate about his business he can barely get the words out of his mouth. I want the innovators and the creators. And I hope to reward them with legal support, excellence, and attention they can’t get anywhere else.

If that sounds like something you want to find, I’d love to hear from you.

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