The Art of Repelling Customers


Written by

Martin Sully

white text on a blue patterned background, reading episode 003 - the art of repelling customers

Ooh, the title of this article or blog, The Art of Repelling Customers, is not to be divisive. It's not about losing customers. It's the art of knowing who your customers are and aren't.

As I write this, I'm sitting here with a lunch drink – fresh cold-pressed beetroot and pear juice. Now, I think most people will think, "ugh, liquid beetroot? No thanks. Not for me".

It's gonna repel some people, and that's okay. Those little character traits and quirks make us unique. For me, I quite like the earthy taste of the beetroot.

Onto the topic, we need to be careful to not make everyone our ideal customer. Home truth: Your brand is not the right fit for everyone. 

And, that's okay! Because there's a little portion of people that are just absolutely perfect for you! That you can turn into your raving super fans, which is kind of the idea of branding.

I'm gonna outline three steps that will help you find your ideal customers and repel the wrong ones. They'll be customers that: 

  • you don't want to work with; 
  • you don't want buying from you;
  • Or ones that are not gonna be happy with the end product. 

When a project slips through, it can be really disheartening and frustrating. And in reality, it's in your control, as you control your brands message. 

It's time to take responsibility for our part in attracting those non-ideal customers. We have all said yes to something and ended up regretting it.

Stand for something

Like attracts like – we all prefer to hang around with like-minded people. People with similar values to us. 

I go to the gym, and I make friendships with other people that go to the gym. People with common interests give us those warm little fuzzies inside. 

When brands don't take a stand for something or lack originality/personalities, it becomes harder for customers to relate to them and say, "Ooh, I like all those things too!" 

On the flip side, there can be conflicts when we attract customers who don't share our values. We need to decide:

  • What we stand for;
  • What we do;
  • Who we serve; And...
  • How we do it? 

Then exclude everything else. Once we outline those little boundaries, they are our checklist to see if that person fits our brand. Not quite? Okay. Time to move on. 

If we can set ourselves outlines, people will also see them and come to us because our brand resonates with them. 

A quick example of this is: I love working with conscious, ethical brands, so I connect with people of a similar mindset and brands in this space. I want to work with more ethical brands. If a coal mining company came to me, they're not a good fit for my brand. 

Naturally, those decisions repel customers. 

Get to know your ideal customer

Every customer you work with brings you closer to knowing your ideal customer. Projects where you just can't do enough to satisfy the brief or deliver as much value as you can.

Projects that just get you excited. 

In old-school branding theory, there's a thing known as brand archetypes. Carl Jung created them in 1919. He was a Swiss Psychiatrist. Jung believed humans have one dominant trait that leads to typical behavioural patterns, desires, values and motivations. I agree with this, but I also believe modern people are multifaceted and complex.

You have things like the Sage and the Creator. There's nothing wrong with them, but based on the fact that they are a 100+year old concept, how relevant are they today?

For this, I cross more into the marketing side of branding and work more on building customer personas. Personas get into the nitty-gritty of character building. What do they like, dislike, read, and what is their coffee order? That list is endless and should be driven by market research.

What are the customer traits, quirks, wants and needs? 

When you're building out your personas, you can learn things from all over the place, LinkedIn profiles, Reddit, Instagram, and anywhere else you bump into customers. 

You can even have a talk with people or brands you feel are aligned with your brand. 

All these quirks, traits, wants and needs will help you understand what types of content you need to produce to talk to your ideal customers. It will also tell you where you should promote your offerings and highlight who are already your ideal customers!

Those little information nuggets will form the basis of a strategy to target your ideal customers and get them coming back.

Set customer expectations

Set expectations of what services you offer and what you don't offer. For example, if you were a company specialised in indoor plant hire. You'll have huge expertise in looking after and caring for indoor plants. But probably don't know as much about outdoor plants. Let people know that you're not the right fit. Setting expectations allows you to save time by being completely transparent. 

While that might repel some, people will appreciate the time saving and might come back to you in the future. 


To wrap up – this is not an airtight solution. The wrong customers will probably leak through, but being aware of the customers that aren't right for you, will help you spot them before they sign up for a project or a service. 

The next time you're having a hard time with a customer or feeling a little bit frustrated or helpless. Think about how you can set better expectations and refine your ideal customer persona. 

Decide what you stand for, what you do, who you serve and how you do it and stick to it. No matter how hard it is to say no. 

If you need a hand defining your brand, including who you serve, what your product is, and what makes you unique? Don't be a stranger. Reach out to me in an email or get in touch on Instagram.

Need support? Book a Discovery Call.

Not sure where you want to go? We can chat through your brand, personal goals and work out an action plan.

Explore other Blog Posts