Little Bets Lead to Big Results: Interview with Dorie Clark

A little over a year ago, I noticed my next guest for the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, Dorie Clark, start working a systematic content strategy. Of course, that’s not really something of note in the digital marketing space: anytime someone has something to promote or starts a new venture, you’ll see their name start popping up everywhere.

But Dorie was different. Dorie was writing for sites like Harvard Business Review, not the typical online business or digital marketing blogs. I watched her topics slowly get more focused, the messages get cleaner.

Tara Gentile interviews Dorie Clark on Profit Power Pursuit

I got more and more excited to see someone from the ranks of top business schools use methods I was so familiar with.

It didn’t surprise me at all, then, to find out that Dorie had been placing “little bets,” a term coined by Peter Sims, in order to see what topics would grow her audience, generate the seed of a book, and position her as a thought leader. I talked with Dorie about this plan and how it has resulted in not one but 2 books published with major houses.

Dorie also more than doubled her email list in the last year—of course, I asked her all about that, too.

To find out how Dorie Clark turned little bets into book deals, content strategy into a massive email list, and the odd academic pursuit that she and I both have in common listen to her interview on Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Click here to listen on iTunes. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review!

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The Big Difference Between Getting “Buy In” and Getting Them to “Buy Now”

The big difference between getting "buy in" and getting them to "buy now"

One of the chief mistakes I see vision-driven entrepreneurs (that’s you, right?) making as they try to build businesses, market their products or services, and grow a community of loyal customers is that they confuse “buy in” and “buy now.”

Knowing the difference–and when to use each–is key and your business requires both to truly thrive.

What is “buy in?”

“Buy in” is how you engage your clients around your vision and purpose. It gives them a big picture taste of the what’s-in-it-for-me and it often points to how they are connected to other customers and community members. “Buy in” excites, motivates, and catalyzes. It brings people together. It rallies a small army to work toward a single goal.

Narratives are the stories that infuse our life with meaning. The narrative of business matters greatly, not only to the business community, but to every human being alive.
— John Mackey, Conscious Capitalism

The “buy in” for your business creates meaning and ties a community together:

  • What stories give your business meaning?
  • What ideas or mission will your customers want to buy into?
  • What vision drives you as a creator and your customers as consumers?

“Buy in” gets people on board but it won’t get them to “buy now.”

What is “buy now?”

“Buy now” is a small step that brings your customers and stakeholders closer to making your vision–the “buy in”– reality. It’s a task to be completed, a milestone achieved, a question answered. It’s the job to be done and the result of its accomplishment. It’s concrete.

“Buy now” represents a marker on the journey between the present and the promised future. It delivers stick-to-your-ribs value to an acute need. It’s not “quick fix” but it’s not so big & dreamy that your customer can’t realize why she needs it now instead of later.

It’s the “buy now” that so often my clients get stuck on. In an effort to make their businesses appear as benevolent as possible, they spend all their time and energy–and their customers’ attention–on the “buy in.” That creates amazing amounts of goodwill, a chorus of well wishes, and many pats on the back but it doesn’t create much in the way of dollars and cents.

Your “buy now” must address a real & present need, desire, or question that your customers are already thinking about:

  • What are your customers googling today?
  • What do they discuss with colleagues or friends?
  • What would they like to be easier, more convenient, less expensive, or more effective… right now?

Use “buy in” when you’re gathering people to your movement or when you’re trying to get your base excited about an idea. You might do this in blog posts, videos, or emails between launches or at the beginning of a launch cycle when you’re actively trying to garner attention.

Use “buy now” when you’re writing sales copy or calls to action. Use it in content towards the end of a launch cycle to prove your product or service can deliver results. Use it as you develop new products & services.

Your business needs a healthy dose of both “buy now” and “buy in” to get the results you want: more impact and more sales. But is it getting the most bang for its buck?


Oh, the Things You Can Do With Your Customer’s Point of View

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.