Counting Crows

My birdfeeder is back in action.

I had to take last year off because our next-door neighbors were enjoying unwanted mouse visits in their basement.

Apparently, birdseed is attractive to rodents as well as to birds (who knew?). The less of it nearby, the fewer mice to contend with.

This summer, after doing some research, I discovered Wild Delight Sizzle N’ Heat Bird Food, and am back in business. This seed is loved by birds but, thanks to its spiciness, of no interest to rodents (again, who knew?).

All good!

Except… the crows have arrived. While technically birds, they scare away everyone else and drain the feeder at a rapid pace.

More research…

I have now learned that crows, unlike most other birds, are particularly wary of shiny, moving objects.

So I put my bald head there and shook it around. I’m kidding. I hung a couple of old CDs nearby. (No disrespect intended, John Mellencamp.)

Two days in and so far, so good – just normal-sized birds.

Narrow Content is More Compelling

When I first started feeding birds a few years ago, the information I paid attention to was very general in nature: what kind of seed to buy, where to place the feeder, etc. Broad-based, Parade Magazine kinds of things.

But then the mice problem came up. So I had to dig deeper.

And then the crows began arriving. Deeper again.

With each successive problem (or “challenge,” for the glass-half-full among you), my interest became both narrower and more intense.

I wanted specific answers to specific questions – and I cared more about finding them than when I was just reading whatever might have randomly come to my attention.

All to say that when you create newsletter content, you, too, want to narrow your focus – in terms of both the scope of what you cover and the audience to whom you are writing.

For example…

As a financial planner …you could write about finance in general. Or, as Michelle Morris does, publish a newsletter that provides, “practical information about money for single women.”

As a seasoned entrepreneur … you could write about the ins and outs of running a small business. Or, as Belinda Sandor does, you could publish a newsletter for, “Virtual Assistants on making more money, in less time, with better clients.”

As an expert in the inner workings of nonprofits … you could write about how to be more effective as a nonprofit leader. Or, as David Mersky does, you could publish a newsletter, “for nonprofit leaders to strengthen fundraising and enhance executive search.”

Of course, by narrowing the focus of what is covered and who it is intended for, these professionals necessarily reduce the size of the potential audience (not every birdfeeder owner has a problem with mice).

But, in doing so, two (good) things happen:

#1. You move to the front of the line.

People have very specific problems, rodent-related and otherwise.

So while it’s true that I may occasionally come across some good mouse advice in the Parade magazines of the world, when I find a publication that specializes in this topic, it becomes the obvious choice.

And, the people who publish it are the ones I’m going to look to hire first if the problem gets too big or too complicated for me to handle on my own. 

#2. You speak to a much more engaged audience.

It’s a smaller audience, definitely. But their problems are more severe and specific – they are paying much more attention to you and what you have to say.

Further, as a small professional service firm or solo, “market share” is an irrelevant concept. That’s Nike’s problem. We have clients, not customers, and they number in the dozens at a time, not thousands, let alone millions.

The potential size of the market is so large that even when you narrow your focus, it may as well be infinite. You lose nothing by ignoring most people in search of the few who eagerly await what you have to share.

It’s not a popularity contest – it’s a contest to get referrals and, ultimately, more clients.

Here’s the bottom line.

There are birdfeeder owners and there are birdfeeder owners. Most of them – the vast majority – have only a passing interest in whatever you are talking about.

But some of them can’t get enough. Choose a narrow audience and figure out what problems are keeping them up at night.

Write to them about that and there will always be a crowd at your feeder.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever shaken a bald head? Was it your own?
  2. Do you still have CDs in your house? How many?
  3. What narrow audience do you focus on in your writing and/or work?

Share your answers below…

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23 thoughts on “Counting Crows

  1. Bob Katz

    Have you ever shaken a bald head? Was it your own? No but there are a few I’d like to shake; any suggestions how I do this without getting arrested?
    Do you still have CDs in your house? How many? Yes, many CDs and LPs; they’re part of my wife’s dowry – anywhere you would suggest selling them?
    What narrow audience do you focus on in your writing and/or work? When I write responses to your newsletter, I try to narrow my audience to bald men who write newsletters for bird lovers (but not crows); is that too limiting?

    Seriously – what bird feeder do you use?

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Well done on your responses, Bob! Regarding the feeder, we have a terrific one that has a spring that closes up if there is too much weight on it. So it’s very good at keeping squirrels away.


    Have you ever shaken a bald head? Was it your own? – I have no idea what this even means??

    Do you still have CDs in your house? YES- doesn’t everybody?? How many? Hundreds

    What narrow audience do you focus on in your writing and/or work? Newly divorcing women & single women

  3. Randy Robinson

    This is quite an example of a great news letter.

    You are by far one of the best on the planet.

    Why you get the big bucks!

    Thank you

  4. Daryl

    (1) Did you know that Red Wing Blackbirds are actually *attracted* to bald heads? Ask me how I know that — and why I now wear a hat on walks. Wonder if a tin foil hat would help.

    (2) Yes – hundreds of CDs. Why rush into the future?

    (3) Electromagnetic Interference (Ghost Busting for electronics.) Talk about a narrow niche, but for 35+ years it provided an enjoyable (and lucrative) living for two old engineers. We were the “EMI-GURUs” (trademarked the term and even used it for an 888 #.)

    Even wrote a highly focused newsletter for years — kept us in front of our clients, who typically only needed us on an occasional basis. But when they did, they remembered us and called. Newsletters rock! (As does your course…)

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I did not know about your narrow focus before, Daryl. Love that. As for the tin hat, it would help with birds and aliens, so a double-win!

  5. Bob Katz

    Thought you might want to read what ChatGPT says on the matter:

    # The Bald Chronicles: Feathered Friends and Newsy Tales

    Once upon a time, in a land where hairlines receded like the tides and birds sang the sweetest melodies, there was a group of bald men. These men wore their shiny scalps with pride and carried themselves with a certain air of whimsy. They were a merry band of brethren, bonded by their bare crowns and a shared love for the simple pleasures of life: feeding birds (but not crows, mind you) and writing newsletters to a select and discerning audience.

    ## Feathered Friends, Not Foes

    Our bald heroes were known to frequent the nearby park, armed with bags of birdseed and breadcrumbs, ready to provide sustenance to their avian amigos. These gentlemen had a soft spot for all birds, except the mischievous crows. Why, you ask? Well, as legend has it, a renegade crow once swooped down and plucked a shiny object from the head of one of the bald men, mistaking it for a delectable treat. This left the man with a rather sore scalp and a lingering resentment toward the ebony interloper.

    Despite this unfortunate event, the bald men of the land continued to roam the park, delighting in the company of friendly finches, cheerful chickadees, and amiable albatrosses. They greeted each bird with warmth and kindness, and the birds, in turn, flocked to them, grateful for the bounty provided by these benevolent beings.

    ## Newsy Tales and Targeted Tales

    In addition to their bird-feeding escapades, the bald men had another passion: crafting newsletters for a carefully curated audience. They had a gift for spinning yarns and weaving tales that captivated the hearts and minds of their readers. They were masters of their craft, and their newsletters were eagerly awaited by the lucky few who had been deemed worthy of receiving them.

    The bald men took great care in selecting their audience. They sought out those with open minds and a penchant for whimsy – individuals who could appreciate the delightful absurdity of a world where bald men bonded over bird feeding and the power of the written word. The newsletters were tailored to this niche audience, filled with stories of their bird-feeding adventures, heartwarming anecdotes, and the occasional bald joke to keep things light and entertaining.

    The newsletter subscriptions grew, and the bald men found themselves at the center of a community of like-minded souls. Their passion for birds and storytelling brought them closer together, and they reveled in the joy and camaraderie they shared.

    ## Embracing Whimsy

    And so, our tale of bald men, bird-feeding, and newsletters comes to a close. The moral of the story, dear reader, is to embrace the whimsical aspects of life, for it is in these moments that we find joy, connection, and a sense of belonging. As you go about your days, may you find delight in the simple pleasures, just as our bald heroes did, and may you always remember to share your joy with others.

    And if you happen to find yourself in the company of a crow, perhaps you’ll consider extending an olive branch, for even the most mischievous of creatures might just have a story worth sharing.

  6. Evelyn Starr

    No, I’ve never shaken a bald head, as far as you know.

    Yes, dozens of CDs. I like listening to them for background music as I write. Or as I empty the dishwasher and dance around the kitchen. No dishes are harmed, it’s just more fun that way.

    I focus on brands that have stalled after their initial success, what I call ‘brands in adolescence’. This translates to business owners whose (usually small or solo professional) companies have existed anywhere from 5-25 years and who find they’ve hit a plateau and/or their marketing isn’t working like it used to.

    What you said for the newsletter is true for a brand choosing a niche as well! Brands that target too broadly are like teenagers with FOMO – trying to do too many things for too many people. Narrowing focuses resources, frees the owner to know ideal clients better, and builds a stronger brand.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Excellent focus, Evelyn! We still have many CDs, but I can’t remember the last time I used one. I just use spotify to play whatever album. I might have to go through them though, since I’m sure I have forgotten some good ones!

  7. Brad Dunsé

    And I thought you were going to talk about Counting Crows, the band.
    You know, I steered away from the habit of shaking bald heads, tempting though it was.
    Do I still have CDs in my house? Certificates of Deposit, no they’re at the… Oh wait, you mean those old music thingamajigs. Yeah… a big collection actually… in that huge box under the stairway in the NE corner of the basement behind my baby pictures my mom gave me when I moved out of the house over 40 years ago now.
    “What narrow audience do you focus on in your writing and/or work?” Songwriters, or wannabes, who want to learn more about using their beloved acoustic guitar to write and/or perform their original material.

  8. Nikki Myers

    Many CDs. and a small, portable CD player and headphones I plug in to listen. No better way to dance around the den.

  9. Jennie Jolly

    I plead the 5th as to ever shaking a bald head.

    Please never disrespect John Mellencamp, as he’s from my neck of the woods! And I’m good friends with his first cousin, Bobby Clark (also a musician), who is the one that penned “Grandview” and John made it famous. In fact, Bobby recently liked a FB photo of our back deck and has agreed to come over and do a patio concert! I’m beyond excited. Besides you, he’s my only claim to fame bahaha.

    Since I mainly proofread and edit, my Fowl Language newsletter isn’t very narrow. I’m able to work on a wide variety of material, and the main focus of my newsletter is to be funny, combine chickens + grammar, and keep me top of mind when readers have or hear of, a need for my services!

  10. Rosalind Joffe

    WOW. I haven’t opened your newsletter in a while but this title caught my eye. And you pulled me in with the bird seed/rodent/bird issues — we’ve had the same experience here and use that bird seed (it’s expensive, though when you have a few feeders and hungry birds). I also haven’t written a post in my blog for 8 months – longest time I’ve ever gone since you first taught me everything I know (which frankly seems to have slipped away). Missed your voice — and now I’ll be sure to always read your blog (or listen to your voice). You are the best at what you do, Michael — forever young.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Rosalind! You were one of my very early clients so I hope you get back into writing. On the bird seed thing, I have since discovered a liquid that you mix into regular birdseed instead of having to buy the expensive spicy kind. Accomplishes the same thing, apparently, but cheaper! Here’s what I’ve been using:


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