Customer Perspective Process
The Perspective Map has been a tool I’ve been using with clients for years. We’ve had great success applying their findings to marketing campaigns, messaging, sales pages, and product development. I personally have used it to develop the ideas and marketing behind products & programs like The Art of Earning, The Art of Growth, and 10ThousandFeet.
It’s no surprise then that it’s my go-to tool. And I hope it will become yours.
Now that you have this tool, I want to give you three practical ways to use it. (And if you haven’t gotten The Perspective Map yet, you can grab it here.)
The Perspective Map gives you a way to record your observations and inferences about how your customers see their current need or desire. Once you’ve got it all figured out, here’s how you can apply it immediately:
1) Identify their current situation.
Customers and prospects desperately want to know that you “get them.” Part of this is being able to communicate that you understand where they’re at, right now. You see their struggle. You hear their questions. You share their desires.
Whether you’re a life coach, a web developer, or a jewelry designer, you want to be able to say to your customers, “I see you.” Take what you’ve recorded in the Say, Do, Think, and Feel boxes and use it to say exactly that on your sales pages or product descriptions.
Try using phrases like, “You want to…” or “You feel like…”
Don’t be afraid to get specific and describe their circumstances with details. Don’t be afraid that the details you’ve come up with don’t apply to some customers. Even details that are a little off help others see themselves in the circumstances you’re describing.
Lisa Claudia Briggs, a 10ThousandFeet alumna, used The Perspective Map to create a brilliant description of her Most Valued Client’s current situation. She works with women who feel things deeply and want to lose all kinds of weight. She writes of the women she works with:
- You consistently bump up against relationships that drain you, and feel as if you are giving (and giving) without getting much back.
- You find it hard to express what you want or be heard in relationships.
- You turn to food or other addictive patterns to soothe yourself when relationships let you down.
It’s not about preying on pain but it is often about acknowledging it. It can also be about acknowledging frustration, inconvenience, or unmet desire. Any way you slice it, identifying your customer’s current situation is a great way for them to feel seen and understood.
2) Discover your client’s core motivators & values.
Take a look at your Map again. What values or motivating factors are your customers hinting at? Maybe they want to be seen as more professional. Maybe they want to feel beautiful. Maybe they want to feel free from outside expectations.
Drill down until you can identify what is driving them to find solutions.
You can use these motivating factors in your content strategy, in your branding, and in your messaging. Your product spread should emphasize these values and motivators.
An example of this in my own business is my emphasis on “impact.” My Most Valued Customers want to make a good living and build successful businesses, yes. But they also want to feel like they are positively impacting the world, their communities, their customers, and their families. Making an impact is their motivating factor. It’s why they wake up every morning and it’s why they’ve built their businesses.
Everything I do or create reflects that motivating factor, making it easier for prospects to align with whatever strategy, tactic, or idea I’m sharing that day.
3) Pinpoint the results they’re looking for.
The flip side of describing your customers’ current circumstances is pinpointing the future they’re aiming for. In other words, you need to know the results they’re looking for.
Catch that? The important results are the ones your customers are looking for, not the results you think your product or service provides. Don’t get me wrong, I know those are awesome results but if they’re not lined up with what your customers are looking for then your customers won’t feel drawn to buying your product.
Often, knowing and communicating the results customers are looking for is difficult for my clients. Again, we break out The Perspective Map. This time, instead of looking for the “now,” we look for the “then.” We pull out the pieces of information that tell us what customers are trying to accomplish, what they really value, and what they just want to be easier.
Brigitte Lyons, PR & media strategist, does a great job of this when describing her services. She could list “learn how to perfect your pitch” or “identify your key media message” as results since those are indeed results of her service. But instead, she goes for the big results her clients are looking for–that she also provides through her service:
- Clients and customers clamoring for your work.
- Event organizers paying you to speak to large groups.
- Journalists and bloggers and TV producers emailing you for quotes, photos and features.
If we’re brainstorming product ideas, we use this information to create a list of results this product needs to accomplish for them. If we’re brainstorming for a sales page, we turn this information into a hypothesis and a bullet point list of outcomes. If we’re brainstorming for marketing & outreach, we turn a specific result into an optin incentive, an ad, or a video idea.
Whenever I’m feeling stuck about or trying to evaluate a business idea, I pull out The Perspective Map. That means I’m constantly coming back to you, my customer, and co-creating with you at every step of my business’s marketing, sales, or product evolution. So the next you think, “How’d she know I needed that?” You’ll know.
Art of Growth
Who powers your business? It’s easy to imagine that it’s powered by you: your passion, your ambition, your expertise. But a more sustainable power source for your business is the person who makes it work: your customer.
While your business is an act of self-expression and guided by your unique vision, it exists in partnership with your Most Valued Customers.
When your business draws energy from those partners, it doesn’t require your constant support as owner. You can empower your team to draw inspiration from your customers. You can create tools that allow your customers to help themselves. The list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, it’s rare that you’ll see good advice on understanding who those people really are. Most teaching about your right customers is:
- Business-Centric – Your customers really do have lives outside of waiting for your company’s next offer.
- Lack Synthesis – What are you going to do with the fact that your customers read Sunset Magazine, shop at REI, and buy a lot of Colombia clothing?
- Don’t Provide for Deep Empathy – The way your customers think and feel, along with the mindset and internal scripts that guide them, is the real key to effective communication.
Now that I’ve told you what’s missing from the usual advice around finding your “ideal customer,” let’s reconstruct some fresh ideas about who these people are and how they can power your business.
First, as far as I’m concerned, you and your customer play equal parts in attracting each other. Just like you can’t stalk the subject of your more carnal desire to the point of loving you, you can’t just chase after customers if they’re not interested in what you’re offering.
You have to respect that there are customers who might meet the profile of the customer you have in mind as ideal but they may not be interested in or ready for what your business has to offer. Your job is to not only create
a profile an understanding that guides you to the best people but one that guides people who are ready and willing to your business.
That may mean you need to alter who you think you’re meant to serve. It may mean the people you’ve been chasing are all wrong for you. Or it may mean that you need to shift your mindset away from “stalking and converting” to “romancing and wooing.”
Next, the work you do around better understanding your customers needs to be Customer-Centric, not Business-Centric. A typical business-centric survey question is, “What features would you like to see the next time we update this product?” or “What topics would you like us to cover on the blog?” Your business is top of mind for you so it’s understandable that it’s the easiest way to approach understanding your customers.
However, your customers will give you much more useful information if you imagine your business doesn’t exist. Weird, I know. This approach works whether you’re sourcing information directly from your customers or whether you’re sourcing the information from your own brain. Focus on your customers needs, questions, and desires. Think about their problems in terms of stumbling blocks or barriers. Consider the jobs (social, functional, and emotional) they need to get done on a daily basis.
Try questions like this:
- What frustrates you most about trying to…?”
- What skills do you believe would improve your ability to…?”
- How do you normally spend your weekends? Why?”
- If you could wave your magic wand and change 1 thing about…, what would it be?
Try to maintain as little bias and as much genuine curiosity as possible. There’s a time for sourcing your expertise, but it’s not now. Don’t worry about your relationship to the potential customer (trust me, they’re not), worry about your customer’s relationship to themselves, their time, their energy, their families, and their communities.
Once you’ve gathered that kind of unbiased information and you’ve examined your customers’ whole lives, it’s time to synthesize.
I have two commandments for this step. First, ask “Why?” And second, trust yourself.
The key to synthesizing the customer-centric information you gather is to always be looking for the motivation, values, or beliefs that swim underneath it. That’s what makes up the mindset–or worldview–that causes your customer to act the way she does, including acting to purchase something or share it with her friends on Facebook.
Each time you ask “Why?” and dig a little deeper, you reach more useful information. While knowing that your customers read Sunset magazine, shop at REI, and wear Columbia could help you place an ad or style your photos, asking “Why?” can lead you to more insightful information. You’ll learn that they appreciate an adventurous yet laid back lifestyle, value the environment, and have an appreciation for passion & expertise.
As I said, the trick here is to trust yourself. You don’t need to ask your customers directly why they like what they like or do what they do, though that can be helpful (it can also be unhelpful). Instead, ask yourself why your customers like what they like or do what they do. And trust that the answers you provide are true.
The thing is, we all gather information more information about people than we realize. We are constantly making inferences from what people say or do. We are receiving unspoken cues all the time. We’re social creatures and it’s how we survive social situations without getting punched in the face.
Unfortunately, most people turn that off when they think about their customers. They go cold and forget to check in with their social brain to uncover the information that is hiding just below the surface. But, as soon as you allow yourself to ask “Why?” and then trust the information you receive from the resources of your psyche, that information will come flooding to the surface.
My final point is on creating deep empathy for your customers. Dan Pink calls empathy, “a stunning act of imaginative derring-do.” It’s as close as I’ll ever get to reading someone’s mind, though that’s a comment I often receive.
Deep empathy isn’t just what you know about your customer. It’s literally being able to step inside his or her life from afar and use the same thought patterns & emotions that guide her actions. It’s anticipating what will resonate with her on the deepest levels.
Creating deep empathy for your customers means that you have access to their inner most feelings and mindsets. When you have that access, you can create the frameworks that allow you to be of greatest service. You can stop treating (or marketing to) surface level needs and start addressing their core desires. You can help them move past the barriers that stand between them and what you offer (i.e. buy).
Again, the action you need to take here is to unlock your social brain. Instead of focusing on concrete details, allow yourself to probe the feelings of your customer. Given all what you know about her experiences, how would you feel if you were her? What true desires would you hide from the world if you were her?
How do the answers to those questions change how you approach your brand, your marketing, your sales process, and your product development?
Remember, the goal with creating a deep understanding of your customers is not to convert people who are uninterested in what you do. The goal is to attract the people who are already searching for what you offer and guide them gently and sincerely to what they seek.
If everything your business does–from a lowly tweet to a signature product to a rebranding campaign–is powered by a deep understanding of your customers, it becomes easy for your customers to buy and for your business to serve them. That ease is the key to sustainable, enjoyable growth. And it’s powerful.
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Art of Earning
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.
I have a confession to make. I think about you. Quite a bit.
I dream up what you might have had for breakfast. I envision the conversations you have with your husband or girlfriend. I imagine the situations you get stuck in and the kind that make your whirl with excitement.
You’re the main character in the story I write in my head.
Thankfully, you let me know I’m doing a pretty good job. You write me comments like, “How did you know I was thinking about that?” or “This is just what I needed to hear today!”
I’m no Sookie Stackhouse.
But I do make a point of understanding you.
By now, entrepreneur, you understand that your story and how you weave it is often what differentiates you from a pack of similar makers or service providers. Your story provides the context for your business. It explains what you do and, more importantly, why you do it.
But your story is not the reason people buy.
Someone buys when she understands how your product or service fits into her story. This is the essence of marketing: weaving your product or service into the story of your customers’ lives.
Lately, I’ve read some comments from people who get a little sick when asked to create a customer profile bedecked with demographic informational accessories like income bracket and age. “It’s icky to consider how much money my customers make or where their kids go to school,” they say.
“What does it matter?”
Stories have the felicitous capacity of capturing exactly those elements that formal decision methods leave out.
— Don Norman, Things That Make Us Smart
Yes, wanting to know the median age of someone’s children or their shoe size is icky if it means that you can create a formula that tells you exactly what marketing techniques will result in the most sales. But that’s not why we want to know these figures. These facts, figures, and suppositions help us craft a story.
Just like you, your customers’ circumstances are not separate from the greater narrative of their lives. Their income, age, location, clothing style, favorite coffee hang out, and Android vs iPhone preference help you understand their story. When you fill in the mad lib of their lives, you have a clear perspective on what they love and what they need.
Marketing and sales do not fit into some neat formula or instruction manual. Marketing and sales live in the imagination. They put us in touch with one of the greatest of human attributes:
One aptitude that’s proven impossible for computers to reproduce, and very difficult for faraway workers connected by electrons to match, is Empathy.
— Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind
The empathy we muster for the whole experience of our customers’ stories is directly related to our ability to close the deal.
When you understand a customer’s story, you can become a character in it.
Create your customer story
- Use Pinterest or a photo editing tool to create an inspiration board that gives you a visual representation of what your customer is like.
- Write out a “day in the life of” schedule for your customer.
- Paint a picture of the situation your product or service aims to help with.
- People watch. Look for people you might imagine to by your ideal customer. What are they thinking about at that moment?
- Create a private Twitter list of users you think of as your ideal customer. Follow it for a few weeks to get a feel of what in their lives is “tweetable.”
The aim here is not to sell people things they don’t need. The aim is to create the things they do need. The aim is to understand what is missing from the story & supply it the only way your own character knows how.
Would you rather be a character in a story or an advertisement on the page?
That’s what I thought.
Today, forget about honing your own story. Concentrate on becoming a part of your customer’s story. Fill in a gap she didn’t know was there. Help her put into words what has gone unsaid.
Become a character in her story.
Play along. Leave a response below to tell me the story of your customer. Include as many details as you can. Tell me about a problem or question she has. Offer the tale of her greatest success. Today, you be the author.