This week’s focus: The death of Mark E. Smith was reported widely across the news media this week. I feel sure, however, that 90% or more of the people watching or reading this news item had never previously heard of him.

The Fall, his post-punk band, had not enjoyed even a single ‘hit’ over its 40-year existence, despite producing over 30 albums of material and many more singles and EPs. What’s more, The Fall didn’t play at large arenas, but only at smaller, off-beat – sometimes very off-beat – venues.

So, why was Smith’s death so high up the news editors’ list of stories? There are two reasons. First, he influenced so many other rock musicians. Second, The Fall had built up a relatively small, but hugely loyal fan base that was completely devoted to The Fall and, more specifically, Mark E. Smith.

Personally, I found it hard to engage with The Fall’s music. In particular, I found Smith’s grating, almost sneering vocal style to be interesting for a while, but difficult to take in large doses!

But I guess, that was the point. The Fall were not for everyone. They were for a particular niche; people who were prepared to put in the time, effort and commitment to genuinely understand, enjoy and appreciate their music.

To build a sustainable, lasting business you must not simply attract customers, but attract customers you can turn into real fans. That means that you must create an offer, an experience and a brand that delivers real meaning and value to your chosen customers.

It might not be for everyone, but it should be clearly for someone. That’s what a genuine customer strategy – and a customer-driven organization – is all about. The only record by The Fall that I own is their so-called greatest hits album. Its title is “50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong” and you can’t get a better summary of a niche customer strategy than that!


Off The Record: Theme From Sparta FC  by The Fall

We have to pay for everything

But some things are for free

We live on blood, we are Sparta FC

English Chelsea fans, this is your last game

We’re not Galatasaray, we are Sparta FC!


© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.