At some point in starting your business, you were instructed to consider what your “target market” is. You might have thought about your right people or your ideal clients. You might have even constructed a customer avatar.
You welcome everyone who might match your target market in at the opening of your sales funnel. That could be the home page of your website, an event, or the opt-in for your email list. Then you create filters through content and offers that narrows the scope of the customers you are dealing with at the core of your business.
That’s all solid advice.
And… I think there’s a better way. Our brains don’t do generalizations well. And generalizations are exactly what you need to conceive of the wide end of your funnel in the traditional approach.
When we generalize, we miss a lot of details. Those details are often the secret to unlocking a new level of creativity and effectiveness in product development, messaging, and sales.
To boot, your customers don’t want to align with generalizations. They want to feel like what your business has created was made especially for them. While mass solutions may have had traction in the industrial era, the social era demands a new level of attention to detail and specialization.
So how do you ensure that you capture those details?
In a traditional sales funnel, the details are all at the bottom. They’re processed later. And they’re rarely designed into the business as a whole.
What if you flipped it?
What if you started with the narrow end? What if you started with a single customer, user, client?
By beginning with a real person who has real needs that your skills, talents, and passion make you uniquely equipped to serve or create for, you don’t miss the details. You see her experience, you understand her process, you discover both acute and deep needs.
Once you’ve worked the narrow end of the funnel–by the way, funnel here is just a visual, I like to think of sales cycles more than funnels–by examining several individuals, ahem, individually, you can work to attract more clients just like them. Instead of needing to weed out the not-quite-right clients, you’re actively building a business based on the perfect individuals.
Of course, there will always be people who are interested in the value you offer who aren’t “just right,” but they won’t be your concern. You’ll be focused on the multitudes who found your business because you took the time to get the details right one person at a time.
Your business will be building towards scale based on specificity and precise service instead of just casting a wider net and hoping to get lucky.
What does this mean for you today?
You and your business have a treasure trove of information at your fingertips. The work you’ve been doing with individual clients and customers translates into a wealth of insight that can lead to identifying the products that truly scale.
This is exactly the process we undergo in The Customer Perspective Process. I’m leading a virtual boot camp May 20-23. Here’s what Amanda Blake, founder of embright, had to say about the last session:
“…blows the familiar ‘ideal customer’ approach out of the water. The CPP boot camp immediately revolutionized the way I approach product development, marketing, and even writing my book. It also makes me more of the kind of business owner I want to be: friendly, empathetic, and connected.”
The Customer Perspective Process boot camp is offered through Kick Start Labs, my microbusiness community & accelerator. Click here to learn more.
I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s on your to do list today. I know you’re processing email, writing blog posts, crafting email marketing, meeting with clients, polishing sales copy, putting dinner on the table, and catching up on Downton Abbey.
Those to do lists are sacred documents, evidence of our shared chaotic lives. When your business approaches customers on terms that are top-of-mind, personally meaningful, and relevant to their daily concerns, you’re speaking the same language. Your customers will–finally–recognize why your product is something they need and not just something to think about.
Do you know what’s on your customer’s to do list?
Everyone is trying to get something done. Your business is tasked with making some of those things easier, hassle-free, cheaper, or more fulfilling. Whether it’s getting dressed & accessorized in the morning or dealing with a difficult situation at work with grace & ease, there are real opportunities where your customer “to do’s” and your products line up.
Your business’ vision can help foment a movement and get your potential customers to buy into the brave new world you are co-creating. But when it comes to actually getting people to buy, your business needs to ground its offers in the expressed needs and desires of your Most Valued Customers.
Turn your customers’ to do list items into the inspiration for a new product.
Take what you want to teach, the service you want to offer, or the product you want to create and figure out how it’s going to help your customer cross something off their list. That’s the ultimate measure of whether your idea is going to make their lives easier or just add to the overwhelm.
Every product is a tool. The bestselling tools help people do the things that are important to them faster, more easily, or with less expense. People naturally feel a sense of urgency to buy what you’re offering when they understand that it’s a tool for helping them get done what they already want to do.
When you’re ready to market and sell your product, make sure it’s crystal clear that you’ve designed this product to help your customers cross an item off their to do list. Use their language. Make it matter to them.
Today, jot down a to do list for your Most Valued Customer. Then consider how what your business offers helps your customers to check things off with greater ease, for less money, or in less time.
How can you use that knowledge to better position your products & create a no-brainer statement of value for your customers?
“There are the people who stay stuck and the people that leap.”
Deirdre Walsh, one of the brilliant business owners in a group I’m currently running, knows this about the people who come to her for integrative health coaching.
My challenge to her and the rest of the group? Construct your business in a way that caters to “leapers.”
What’s the difference between a stucker and a leaper?
Stuckers are the customers who buy from your business and show up for the jam session but rarely act on the ideas, they keep the jewelry in the box, or they add your book to their overflowing shelf of unread books.
They’re genuinely interested in what your business has to offer. They buy into your vision. But that’s where it stops.
For whatever reason, they’re not really ready for the bigger picture. They like to look but they’re not interested in the follow through.
And you know what? That’s just fine!
Here’s the thing: Stuckers aren’t good for business. Not because they’re bad customers or because they take up your time, but because they don’t give back. They don’t create the ripple effects that allow your business to grow and evolve.
On the other hand, leapers are the people who bring energy and enthusiasm to the consumer-producer relationship and create a return on their investment. They are quick to make changes, they update their wardrobe to match the jewelry, they tear into your book and take notes. They get results. Their investment is as much in themselves as it is in your product.
What’s more, they tell their friends. Their lives become an example of the good your business creates. They stick around for the long haul. They’re repeat buyers and repeat referrers.
Leapers renew your entrepreneurial energy. Stuckers drain it.
We’re all a little stuck.
Click to tweet!
The best way to get in touch with who the stuckers are in your potential clientele is to get in touch with your own inner stuck.
Is there some aspect of your life on which you just haven’t taken action past lip service? I’m betting there is. Maybe you bought that juicer but you never use it. Maybe you bought that killer dress but you haven’t made an opportunity to wear it. Maybe you bought that gym membership but you just don’t make time to go.
What holds you back? Keeps you stuck? Bottom line: it’s almost always about priorities. And secondly, it’s about support.
Leapers put a priority on the work they’re doing with your business or the product they’ve buying. They have an emotional connection to it long before they buy. They have envisioned the outcome of the purchase and have already begun making changes or adapting to their post-purchase lives.
Stuckers have other priorities. Plain and simple. Their desire is spread thin and something else in their lives is receiving top priority.
Leapers also have support. Whether it’s self-support or an accountability network or just a pat on the back from a friend, they know their decision is made in relation to a greater (supportive) context.
Stuckers are going it on their own. They’re not necessarily functioning in a hostile context but they don’t have the inner or outer care that makes change a reality. They put more responsibility on the product or service than they do on themselves.
Of course, what the leapers and stuckers look like and how they present themselves varies for every business. While you may not always be able to distinguish one from another, you can study former clients and customers to see what they have in common.
Identify 5-10 customers who have leapt–taken the advice, changed their habits, achieved personal success, etc…–then identify 5-10 customers who have stuck. Consider the differences in:
- how they contacted you to buy
- why they bought
- how quickly they bought
- how they expressed their needs/desires
- what their reaction was to the product
- what their outcomes/results have been
Notice any patterns?
I don’t have all the answers. It’s different for every business. But if you’re interested in really understanding the social dynamic of your business–and, I believe, you absolutely should be–it’s important to bring attention to the subtle differences between your leapers and your stuckers.
What does this have to do with actually selling products?
Stuckers can drain the life-force out of a relationship-driven business.
You–as a business owner, maker, thinker, designer, coach–genuinely care about the outcomes your customers realize through your products. If you, or your team, are regularly coming into contact with customers who aren’t getting the results you envision, you’ll begin to question your product. And rightly so.
However, if you notice that those not achieving your shared vision are stuckers, you can go on fulfilling the needs of your leapers.
It’s not that you need to turn every stucker away. Instead, your business can create leveraged offers that allow stuckers to get what they want without taking up a disproportional amount of your resources. Leapers can have access to higher level, deeper relationship offers.
Your business model–and the way it is marketed–should be built to satisfy stuckers at the lower end and direct leapers toward the higher end. It’s better for your revenue, it’s better for your Most Valued Customers, and it’s better for the people your MVCs will come into contact with.
Tell me about your own experience with leapers, stuckers, or leaping/sticking yourself: tweet me.