You Can’t Sell What Your Customers Don’t Care About

You’re passionate about what you do, you love your product, and you know your offer is capable of making many people’s lives better.

But you can’t convince people they should care about your business, your product, or your offer.

Your customers already care about a lot of things. They care about the way they’re feeling (either good or bad). They care about their families, their work lives, or their communities. They care about how much money is in their wallets and they care about how many tasks are on their to-do lists.

The burden is not on your customer to add one more thing that she cares about to her plate.

The burden is on you. A good marketer and a visionary business owner sees how what she cares about is related to what her customers care about already.

It’s a whole menu of opportunities—feel free to order a la carte.

When you connect your value message to what’s already on the minds of your best prospects, the things that affect their loved ones, and the things that keep them healthy, happy, and thriving, they’ll be much more likely to understand why your offer is something to care about.

If your prospects don’t share the same enthusiasm for your work as you do, stop and ask yourself if you’ve connected what you love to what they’re already loving. Make the mental leap a short one.

Don’t Be a Slave to the Stories

“Most of us are slaves of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves about our lives. Freedom begins the moment we become conscious of the plot line we are living and, with this insight, recognize that we can step into another story altogether.”
— Carol S. Pearson, The Hero Within

I came across this quote through the brilliant Sarah Peck. I have told myself many stories in my life and I have slowly released myself from their snare. A recent story I uncovered was that I am a “misfit” and that most people just put up with me in social situations.

This is a story that’s haunted me since I was very small. It’s not that I believed myself to be quirky or misunderstood. This story was much closer to believing that I was “unlovable” or, at the least, “unfriendable.” Despite the mounting evidence to the contrary–I have brilliant, loving, and supportive friends–in recent years, I continued to tell myself this story as I acclimated to a new community and new relationships.

When I became aware of this story, I was able to live a different plot line. I’m no pariah and I don’t need to act like one. That doesn’t make me any less shy or introverted but it does fundamentally change the way I act in relationships.

What does this have to do with your business? Simple. You tell yourself stories about your customers. And most likely, those are limiting stories:

  • They won’t pay enough for this.
  • They want fast & dirty.
  • They like the flash & sparkle of my competition more.
  • They will only buy this a certain way.

Are you a slave to the stories you tell yourself about your customers?

Click to tweet.

Often, I work with my clients to bring attention to these stories and the effect they have on the decisions they make in their businesses. A story about their customers not valuing the product or service they receive leads to an artificially low price. A story about the way customers are used to buying can stymie innovation.

This quote from Frederick Buechner appears in Anne Lamott’s classic book on writing, Bird by Bird:

“You avoid forcing your characters to march too steadily to the drumbeat of your artistic purpose. You leave some measure of real freedom for your characters to be themselves. And if minor characters show an inclination to become major characters, as they’re apt to do, you at least give them a shot at it, because in the world of fiction it may take many pages before find out who the major characters really are.”

I used to use this idea to prod my group coaching participants to drop old stories about their customers and allow those customers to grow, evolve, and change.

Our customers are integral characters in the stories of our businesses. In many ways, they are the main characters with our businesses operating more as settings or worldviews and us, as business owners, acting as semi-omniscient narrators.

The stories we tell are the stories of the people we serve. But all too often we pay more attention to parroted beliefs and limiting thoughts than the actual, expansive stories that are playing out in front of us, with us.

When you bring attention to and question the stories you tell yourself about your customers, those same customers–your characters–can help you co-create new stories that take your business in all sorts of new directions.

Truly getting to know those customers, not just the stories you tell yourself about them when you’re frustrated or feeling doubtful, is the key.

You Economy Case Study: Beautiful You by Julie Parker

This week, I’m sharing case studies from participants in 10ThousandFeet. They’ll be highlighting small changes they made that resulted in big returns for their businesses.

julieparkerBeing a part of the 10ThousandFeet mastermind has entirely changed the way I see, approach and operate my business.

By stepping out of the day to day ‘trenches’ to take a larger and more reflective view of the type of business I really want to run, (and the life I want to go with it), I have been able to make an accumulation of small changes with big impact.

One of these changes is getting the most deeply clear I’ve ever been about the exact client I want to work with. And I’ve done those ‘ideal client’ exercises before! I learned that to really thrive in my business I need to be attracting not just who I can work with, but who I want to work with, and have the courage to turn down people who are not fully in that want space for me. Getting clear about just this one thing has seen me change my web copy, blog topics, newsletter and general approach to client attraction.

The result?

…a deep and growing waiting list of women who before we even start to work together, I know are going to bring as much inspiration to me as I hopefully will to them, and at a higher rate too, that is seeing me work less for more.

I have solid and exciting plans that are going to see Beautiful You have a larger scale impact, touching the lives of thousands more women in the next 2-5 years. My business is dramatically moving away from the ‘time-for-money’ business model that has previously made me feel trapped and over-worked.

10ThousandFeet has allowed me to soar above my business with a bigger, bolder and more beautiful approach to the business and life I want to live. The view from above feels and is amazing and I don’t plan to come back down into those trenches ever again.

Julie Parker
Life and Business Coach
Beautiful You

Flip the “sales funnel” on its head.

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?

salesfunnelflip

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.

What’s on your customer’s to do list today?

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.

Do you know what’s on your customer’s to do list?

Another List -- 31 January 2009Everyone 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.

Where better to find those needs & desires than on their to do lists?

Those to do lists are sacred documents, evidence of our shared chaotic lives. When your business approaches customers on those terms, 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.

Before you position yet another product around “speaking your truth” or “bringing original art into your home,” consider what your customer is actually trying to get done and how your particular product helps to make that happen.

Today, jot down a to do list for your Most Valued Customer. Then consider how what your business offers helps your customers to get 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?

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Join me in Portland, OR on March 2

Learn how to develop products that thrill, copy that compels, and marketing that resonates by thinking about your customers in a whole new way. We’ll spend the day diving deep into the lives, conversations, and psyches of your Most Valued Customers.

Before working with Tara on my Most Valued Customer profile, I spent way too much time addressing the misconceptions about my industry (public relations) and potential fears of my clients. Now, I know better. I offer up a call-to-arms that attracts people who know the power of PR. My customer isn’t shaking in her boots — she can’t wait to get started! And I LOVE helping her channel her energy and ambition to get results!
Brigitte Lyons, PR insider & creator of Your Media Map

Click here to learn more about this workshop!