I’m in the middle of a series of posts on leveraging your customer’s perspective (and your business’ unique strengths) to discover how to take your ideas to scale. We’ve talked about to-do lists, evolving your business model, leveraging love, and using small ideas to create the most impact in your market.
But what else can you do with an intimate knowledge of your customer’s perspective?
1. Devise an engaging content strategy.
When you know what’s on your customer’s mind, you can create content–blog posts, email updates, social media posts, videos, classes, etc…–that meet her exactly where she’s at. Instead of hoping that the latest social media trick will tip the scales in your favor, you offer fresh ideas, instant inspiration, or genuine entertainment that lets your customer know just how in tune your business is with her needs.
When you write like everyone else and sound like everyone else and act like everyone else, you’re saying, “Our products are like everyone else’s, too.” Or think of it this way: Would you go to a dinner party and just repeat what the person to the right of you is saying all night long? Would that be interesting to anybody?
— Jason Fried, Why is Business Writing So Awful?
And perhaps more importantly, do you want to give your customers the impression you think they’re just like everyone else? No. You want to make them feel special. One in a million.
For example, Lisa Claudia Briggs, from Intuitive Body, knows her Most Valued Customer tends to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. They internalize outside stress (at work, in their families, with friends) and turn that into unhealthy habits like overeating. She calls them empaths. Using the Customer Perspective Process, she can use that information to create instant connections and establish trust with potential clients. She recently wrote about the advantages of being an empath, turning a perceived negative into a positive. That’s great (long-lasting) content!
2. Use the media to spread your story.
Your customers are the media’s customers. The same people that buy your products and services also buy newspapers, magazines, and cable. Reaching your customers through the media (as opposed to advertising) means your coming through a trusted source. You earn the title expert or insider from people who get paid to mete out experts and insiders.
My friend and colleague Brigitte Lyons, a media strategist for microbusinesses and creator of the Your Media Map program, uses the Customer Perspective Process to both better understand her own clients and to train them in preparation for dealing with the media.
As I was preparing to launch my publicity planning program, Your Media Map, I brainstormed the work participants needed to do before they went after the media. The first thing that came to mind was Tara’s Customer Perspective Process.
One of the most successful mindset shifts you can make to dramatically increase your hit rate is to keep in mind that you and the media share a common customer. Your right-fit media is just as invested in serving your MVC as your business is. When you keep this commonality in mind, your approach to a journalist (or blogger) changes from being a self-interested pitch to a customer-focused collaboration.
This mindset shift is the key to launching a successful media campaign — and it also helps you calm the jitters you’ll feel when you approach a journalist with a huge audience. You know their reader inside-and-out, because she also happens to be your MVC.
3. Construct a sales process tailor made to duplicate your best customers.
Too many businesses use fancy language to sound like they have a solution. Any kind of jargon–business, self improvement, design, craft, advocacy, etc…–is a barrier between your customers and your work. Your sales process isn’t an opportunity to display your smarts.
It’s an opportunity to match how the value your business creates matches the needs and desires your customer is already expressing (or not expressing) the way they’re expressing them. For example, Jen Louden knows the frustrations, questions, and desires that teachers face when they enter the virtual classroom. She’s crafted the sales process for TeachNow, her signature program for creating confidence & clarity around teaching-as-business, to reflect those frustrations, questions, and desires in her students’ language.
4. Build a business model that exponentially increases your revenue.
When you construct your business model using your customer’s worldview, you can anticipate what products or services he’ll want and when. That means that each satisfying experience with a product turns into a marketing device for the next.
Your business retains highly satisfied customers who continue to invest the products & services they depend on.
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a loyal customer can be worth 10x as much as a single purchase. If your customers could purchase 10x more from you, you’d be quite happy, right? Crafting a smart business model around your customers’ evolving needs–based on your knowledge of their worldview–means they’ll have that opportunity.
5. Turn your business into a referral engine.
You’re not the only one who needs to talk about your business. You need your customers to be consistently referring clients to your products & services, too.
They’re unlikely to feel comfortable using your description for your business. If the only way you know how to talk about your business is through careful brand language, you’re missing out on a big opportunity for scale. When you give your customers ways to talk about your business from their perspective, it’s easier for them to spread the word for you.
I’ve seen this happen beautifully with my book, The Art of Earning. My customers (that’s you!) are all familiar with the starving artist archetype. By turning that on its head and challenging their perspective, they have a fun way to recommend the book to their friends and colleagues.
Your customer’s perspective is powerful.
Seeing the world through your customers’ eyes is a powerful thing. It’s more than just attracting your right people. It’s the foundation for a business that is truly social, truly sustainable, and truly successful.
Click here to learn about my next Customer Perspective Process boot camp.
So you’re ready to create a new product or design a new collection. Further, you’re ready to take this baby to scale.
It’s go big or go home.
When your business creates a product that scales, you’re aiming to serve as many people as possible with a solution designed with them in mind. The danger is watering down what you offer. Solutions that scale are based on specific needs and desires, not on sweeping generalizations.
The key to discovering the specific needs & desires that scale is to examine particular customers you’d like to reproduce. You know the ones: you’re thrilled to see them on the calendar, you’re happy to package up their orders and send them a little something special, you’re glad to answer their questions and guide them towards the best purchase. They’re the customers who challenge you, thrill you, and inspire you.
Scale doesn’t start with a big idea. Scale starts with a single customer, a single problem, and single solution.
Click to tweet!
Too often, business owners try to diagnose the problems of the market instead of an individual customer. You try to spot the trends, the big opportunities, instead of getting clear on what the person right in front of you needs most.
The go to tool for this? The survey. Don’t get me wrong, surveying your audience can be extremely useful. However, it’s not useful when you’re looking for your next idea. Use a survey when you want to know more about your customers’ experience with [blank] or their frustrations with [blank]. But don’t use a survey when you want to know what’s on their collective mind. It will (almost) always be a shadow of what is really true.
The people who are right in front of you–those customers who thrill, excite, and inspire you–are constantly giving you information. They are writing you emails, responding to your tweets, and giving you feedback on their purchases. The best tool for discovering the needs & desires of those right-in-front-of-you customers is your own mental archive. Trust yourself, trust your observations, trust the information.
The same way you know how to give the perfect gift to someone you love is the way you discover how to create a product that scales.
The thing about the person right in front of you is that her needs are felt by someone else. In fact, those needs are felt by countless others. Obvious? Perhaps. And perhaps what you’re doing when you go trendspotting is trying to identify those very needs. But when you survey the group, you inevitably water down your observations.
You turn your observations into “big ideas.” Those big ideas are great for getting buy in. They can motivate, entice, and enthuse. But, they rarely turn into a sale.
Scale is about precision: precise language, precise desires, precise solutions, precise connections.
Scale is about the perfect gift.
That kind of precision isn’t about demographics or profiles. It’s about meaning, belief, internal scripts, personal priorities, and core desires. You won’t discover those by going broad; you’ll find them by diving deep. Focus your energy, your intuition, and your magnifying lens on the people right in front of you.
That’s where you’ll find the needs that will scale.
Are you ready to unlock those needs?
That’s why I created The Customer Perspective Process. It will allow you to tune into your customers’ inner needs & desires and creating lasting systems for growth based on them.
Click here to find out about the next Customer Perspective Process boot camp.
Often, clients come to me because they’re ready to go beyond serving one customer at a time. They’re ready to take their ideas to a bigger stage and a broader reach. They’re ready to scale.
You might be there right now–or approaching that point–if you’re asking questions like:
- Is the way I’m working right now really sustainable over time?
- Isn’t there a way to get more “bang for my buck” when it comes to marketing & sales?
- Where is the closest human clone machine?
Traditionally, scale has required making products or services less personal. You can’t clone yourself & your super personal service, so you scale back as you scale up.
First, what do I mean by scale? Simply, scale is serving as many customers as possible with as little effort on behalf of your business as possible. Serving a group of customers through scale means that your business has an impact on people who you wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise.
What if scale didn’t have to be impersonal? What if scale was an extension of all the most human elements of your business?
Creating a business that scales leverages your gifts for the greatest good across the broadest channels.
I believe that most businesses require a level of premium, unleveraged work. It could take the form of commission art, couture dresses, one on one coaching, or corporate speaking engagements. But most of those same businesses require a level of leverage to take their impact to scale. The two sides of the equation can and do work hand-in-hand.
One informs the other, improving both.
Over the summer, I watched Danielle LaPorte work a room of eager, warm-hearted entrepreneurs. She opened with…
We were at World Domination Summit and it’s a beautiful example of how you can nurture relationships while leveraging your gifts & skills. Chris Guillebeau doesn’t have a relationship with each of the people who bought tickets – all within minutes of them going on sale. But, of course, many people feel like they have relationship with him.
More importantly, their connection to Chris makes connecting to the others at WDS much easier. It’s not the relationship with Chris that makes this event a success; it’s all the other relationships that are spawned by their implicit connection.
Yes, love scales at WDS. It scales at meet ups, conferences, and events. It scales at rock concerts, sidewalk sales, and yoga classes. Love even scales through ebooks, programs, and masterminds.
It’s the intention, process, and values that create the atmosphere that allows love to scale through a business. It’s not a business owner or her work with any individual client.
It’s a clear understanding of how one individual’s needs & desires are the fuel you need reach the masses. More on that next week.
The most powerful kind of scale happens when you make each & every customer feel like she’s one in a million, even when you’re serving thousands.
Click to tweet it!
What holds you back from leveraging your gifts & skills to create more wealth and impact more lives is thinking that your work can’t survive without you & your special attention to the client.
The thing is, you can duplicate your favorite clients. You can clone your best customers. You can leverage your love for these special people. You can know them better, discover their innermost thoughts & desires.
You can identify the patterns behind why they buy and when. You can design filters, campaigns, and events that attract & bind people who genuinely value what your business does.
And at the same time you can create work that fulfills their deep desires and answers their core needs.
When you leverage the love & scale your offers, you’re creating a big impact on the customers who are just right for your business.
And that ends up having a big impact on you.
The number one reason your business isn’t generating the revenue it could be is that your business model is not set up to generate more.
People who earn more know a very important fact:
It’s easier to earn the second $50,000 than it is to earn the first $50,000.
Or the second $100k, or the second cool million.
In other words, once you’ve earned $50,000, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be earning 6-figures. The difference is that earning 6-figures generally requires leveraging your earning. It means no longer trading time for money. It means understanding what parts of your business can be duplicated over & over again with almost zero effort. It means finding a tipping point again, and again, and again.
You don’t have to give up family time to earn more. You don’t need to resort to shady promotional tactics or annoying affiliate campaigns. Instead, your business needs to embrace a better business model that is based on value & results, not time & energy.
If you’re putting too much work into earning too little, there’s a good chance your business is based on a relationship model.
Now, don’t get me wrong! Relationships are great. The human element is the most important element of any business. But here’s what starts to go wrong when you base your business on a relationship model:
Relational transactions happen most often in project-based or one-to-one client scenarios. The easy way to develop a relationship is with time, exchange, and getting-to-know-ya. You put your whole heart & soul into the process. Those relationships turn towards a transaction when you have something that fills a need for the other person.
It’s a feel good way to do business. But it’s a slow process. Each customer represents hours of time, loads of money (don’t think your social media use & Skype coffee dates aren’t costing you), and emotional stress waiting for those relationships to convert.
On the other hand, sales in transactional models come fast & furious. They utilize scale to generate the revenue that’s needed in the business. Transactional models are built on acute needs & impulse purchases.
The difficulty with this model is that it’s hard to achieve customer loyalty, harder still to truly delight your customers. Once a solution is purchased, there’s often no word from the customer to find out if it’s working or not. And this type of business might leave you scratching your head, wanting more.
In a perfect world, there would be a sweet spot between transactional models & relational models.
Not to get all Dr. Pangloss on you, but the New Economy just might be the best of all possible worlds.
There is a sweet spot. There is a way to build a business that takes your big ideas and your brilliant products to scale in a way that makes each customer feel special and singled out.
Your customer understands that you are doing business with him in mind, that your business is geared to her success, and that you have a vision for how his life can be better.
Leveraged income isn’t outside the customer relationship cycle. It’s an integral part of it. You don’t develop leveraged income opportunities to generate money where before there was none. You develop leveraged income opportunities to solve problems for people you care about, over & over & over again.
If you’re making $10k, $20k, even $50k per year, you’re already solving problems for people one at a time. To make the jump to your dream income, your goal is to solve problems for people 10, 100, even 1000 people at a time.
Don’t fight your desire to forge & foster relationships with your potential customers. Just realize that you can serve more than one person at a time. In fact, you owe it to your customers to do just that.
So, you’ve got a new product or service launching in the new year. I imagine one of the tasks you’re dreading the most is actually writing the offer.
You can create a remarkable new product. But write sales copy? It’s like pulling teeth.
Here’s how you avoid the pseudo-painful task: you use fancy flourishes of speech and clever turns of phrase. You dangle big broad concepts in front of the people you want to serve. Then you quietly suggest their lives would in some small way be better for buying this product or that service.
All that beating around the proverbial bush means one thing: you have no idea why this product or service is really important to your Most Valued Customers.
Not true? Prove it.
- What are your customers doing now to try to solve the problem they have that your product solves? How would that change if they used your product?
- What kinds of things do they say to their friends or colleagues about what they really want?
- How do your customers feel about the problem you’re trying to help with? What fears exist there? What secret desires?
There now, that wasn’t so hard. If you seriously answered those questions, using words your customers would actually use–not silly things like “speak my truth” or “create synergy through multiple verticals”–you’re well on your way to more effective sales copy.
It’s a simple exercise in Empathy.
Empathy is a stunning act of imaginative derring-do, the ultimate virtual reality – climbing into another’s mind to experience the world from that person’s perspective.
— Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind
Will you put yourself in your customers’ shoes? Can you know what they’re thinking and feeling?
That, my friends, is the secret to sales copy that actually sells. No tricks. No techniques. Just being human.
Unfortunately, we all too often–myself included–try to put our smarty pants hat on and impress our potential clients with our knowledge. Not. Effective.
Our customers just want to be understood.
And they want solutions and services that speak to them where they’re at now and get them where they want to go.
Because I find the writing of sales pages such a joy (I’m not kidding!), I put together a training resource called the Sales Page Kick Start guide. It’s one of the many resources you’ll find inside Kick Start Labs.
It might just save you hours of headaches and put more money in your bank account.
Want access to that guide, many others, a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, and my expert guidance? It’s time to join Kick Start Labs, because being independent shouldn’t mean being alone.
Here’s a dirty little secret about business in the digital age: people aren’t as financially successful as you think they are.
I’m not saying anyone is lying about their earnings. If someone tells you how much they’re producing, I would trust it. What I mean is that you perceive the people you admire, many of the business owners who seem to be “crushing it,” to be more financially successful than they are.
This isn’t an exposé on others lack of success; it’s an exposé on the thought patterns and assumptions that keep you struggling when you should be thriving.
When you stare at your Twitter stream or the fancy websites of your colleagues, your mind plays tricks on you. You confuse the shiny veneer with deep success. I do too. It’s an easy mistake to make.
When you see a highly organized, well-executed launch, you associate it with a small team of gifted marketers and lots of sales. What you don’t see is the one-woman show, the sleepless nights, the endless “hustle,” the working-too-hard-for-too-little routine.
When you see an ebook or a program or an affiliate campaign, you associate it with waking up every day to hundreds of dollars more in the bank. What you don’t see is the lack of sales or the constant work required to move a small amount of inventory.
When you see a business with a wait list, you associate it with a calendar full of exciting clients and a bank account full of service fees. What you don’t see is the unpaid bills, the anxiety of asking for payment, and nagging feeling that there’s a better way to be spending time. What you don’t hear is the quiet whisper of, “Who am I to want anything different than this? I should feel blessed to be this busy.”
This might even be you now. You’ve executed the launch, you’ve created an opportunity for leveraged income, or you’ve sold out your calendar. People tell you that you’re successful. And you believe them. But again, you’re left with the nagging thought, “I didn’t think that success would feel like this.”
Look, I’m not trying to be a downer. I’m an optimist – but I’m also a realist. And I woke up with a strong desire to let you in on this secret. The reality is that I know all this because these business owners – the ones you associate with big launches, profitable products, and sold out service calendars – they come to me when they’ve had enough. And I’m generally as surprised to hear from them as you’d be! They open up and tell me they want to make more money, work less, and structure the business differently.
What I’ve discovered is that the source of their frustration is the engine of their business, the thing that keeps it motoring down the road. What’s the engine? It’s them!
When you’re trying to be the engine of your own business it can manifest in many ways:
- pushing out tons of free stuff to try to gain traction
- doing “the work” at the expense of building the business
- saying “yes” to every opportunity for exposure or joint venture
- changing surface-level tactics and hoping for a different result
I recently wrote that after the sparkly follow-your-passion dreams wear off and the reality of hard work sets in, it’s easy to confuse busyness with business. When you are the engine of your business growth, busyness seems like the answer. If only you put in more hours, if only you checked more things off the list, you could get the business where you want it to be.
It’s the truly successful people who realize their business is run by something greater than their sheer effort.
The business grows because it’s built to grow. The model provides for growth through clear channels of customer acquisition, products that build on previous successes, and systems that eliminate busywork while replicating results.
It’s a mindset shift. And a drastic one, at that.
It requires you accepting that more work, harder work, or sheer will is not the key to getting ahead.
And it requires that you have faith in your ability to step back from the work far enough to see how the business could succeed without your constant interference.