Nature is filled with a wildly diverse collection of courtship rituals, including the often twisted and torturous ones of our own species; but one thing is consistent whether you’re talking about bird, beast, fish, or insect – animals typically court only their own kind. You won’t, for instance, come across a porcupine trying to woo a white-tailed deer, or a salamander bringing flowers to a field mouse. There’s a reason for that.

She’s just not that into you.

The courtship trials of most males are not unlike the daily grind of most marketers. Let’s be honest, animal courtship is usually a pretty pathetic affair for the guy. Take the peacock, for example – while he struts around, puffing out his chest, fanning his tail, showing off his general studliness, and maybe even putting down a few competitors for good measure, the female typically demonstrates a completely unflappable disdain for all his showboating. She moseys along, nibbling at grass or gossiping with her girlfriends, not paying him the slightest bit of attention. And that’s when he is a male of the same species. I’m a girl, but I empathize with those prancing, parading guys. They are doing their damndest to prove that they are the best choice, and not getting so much as a glance for all their efforts. Sad, I tell you, sad.

At least you’re not invisible.

The peacock hens might give their boy the runaround for a while, but – eventually – one of them will decide to get to know him a little better. His situation is tough, but not hopeless. But imagine what would happen if – say – a male peacock was trying to impress a lady squirrel. I don’t care how handsome a peacock our Romeo is, Ms. Squirrel just isn’t going to fall for him. No way. No how. As far as the squirrel is concerned, the peacock may as well be invisible. He has no relevance to her world. It’s like she has a blind spot that keeps her from noticing even the most spectacular displays he might offer.

The lesson: Don’t woo squirrels.

If you’re business is wooing the wrong kind of customer, you’re not going to capture her interest, no matter how amazing your pitch is. It sounds like common sense, but putting on a show for the wrong audience is a common marketing mistake. It usually happens gradually and is the result of misguided product and service extensions that are not strategically aligned with the company’s core business. Unfortunately, since these types of extensions fall into the “bright and shiny objects” category, they often influence overall marketing and can quickly lure a company into the courting territory of an entirely different species.

To make sure you’re appealing to the right species, you need to have a really good grasp of who your “right audience” is:

  1. Create buyer personas so that you have a very clear image of who you’re selling to and what problems they need solved.
  2. Survey existing customers to validate your persona. Find out what drew them to your brand, what makes them loyal, AND where they think you could do better.
  3. Bounce all your offers off the needs and wants of your persona to make sure the products, services, and marketing are squarely on target.
  4. Participate and promote in places where your audience already lives. If they aren’t on twitter, don’t bother flexing your muscles over there.

The bottom line: Stay true to who you are. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, or compete for clients that don’t even inhabit the same evolutionary arm as you.

Oh – just for fun – here are some great photos and videos of interspecies friendships. Too funny!

Photo Credit:John Rite

This is the fifth in my “Marketing According to Mother Nature” series. From the birds and the bees to sharks and wildebeests, the natural world is full of metaphors that provide surprisingly relevant marketing insights. Take a walk on the wild side – you never know what might inspire you.