Who are your potential heavy-using, high-yield customers? Hint – Don’t say everyone.
You should know the answer to this question or you are going to spend a lot of time turning in circles. As Bob Hoffman says, for example in fast food like many industries 30% of customers are responsible for 70% of the business and although this rubs people the wrong way in their efforts to please the entire population of the world you should be aiming your product at your heavy-using, high yield customers regardless of their characteristics.
You will save a lot of money and time by targeting the right people and the right people sometimes aren’t the people you thought you were going to have. If someone makes the leap of faith to buy your stuff then regardless of who you dreamed up when you were eeking out your business plan with the eggheads as the potential client, the real client is right in front of you and right now. So don’t keep trying to sell to the potential clients and start selling to the real clients.
These are the people you are communicating to. Their needs are immediate and match your product which may not be the case of your lighter users. Now look at the message you have concocted and ask yourself if you are really talking to your customers and if what you think you say is really what they hear.
The world is full of the lazy and the talentless. It sounds harsh but, well there you go. The fast track to success is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. If your goal is to pretend to know everything and to be the most intelligent person in your company then you are, by default a bozo and also by default surrounding yourself with bozos. And bozos are like that apple disease which can bring down the whole orchard with one bad apple. Or as the expression goes “bozosity loves company”.
Senior management is vulnerable to this. Somewhere along the line the old boys figure that by making it through to senior executive status, more or less in one piece then they must be the brightest ones in the room. Wrong. The blind and the feckless knoweth no age barrier. In business the name of the game is to have bright people firing on all cylinders and as much as they can manage. If you are the boss of these people congratulations for hiring them and congratulations for letting them do their thing. If you are tyring to stifle this through some misguided sense of heirachy then you are in decline and will eventually take the service/department/company into decline with you. Hey, I said it was harsh but then so is business today.
This from Bob Hoffman transcends advertising and may help you get a perspective on the value of finding great people and letting them run…
For your own self-preservation you must get rid of bad people and hire good ones. There is no other way to do good work and have a happy life. Talent is a rare and precious thing. The idea that “we’re all creative” is absolute bullshit.
John Grisham woke up a couple hours earlier at 5am every day to write his first book. It took him three years to complete but he created at least 12 hours a week of spare time to write what would become “A Time To Kill” in 1987. He didn’t become a success overnight. He was rejected like many first time authors by a number of publishers until he found a home at Wynwood Press who ran 5000 copies of the book.
Unlike many first time authors Grisham didn’t mooch about checking his in-box every five minutes nor did he mope around the telephone but he continued to write and completed “The Firm”. Since he has pumped out a book a year for the past two decades. Like his books or not, the success of the publications and the films is the consecration of his ability to marry popular with hard work.
The rest, as they say, is history. Millions of books sold. Millions of dollars made. Millions of people happy.
Now my point is this, imagine you have some extra spare time. Spare time which has become spare because the orders have slowed, or because people are waiting to see what the stock market is going to do. What are you going to do? Here are a couple of ideas from Seth Godin:
Learn something. Become an expert. For free, using nothing but time, you can become a master of CSS or HTML or learn Python. You can hit the library and read the entire works of important authors, or you can borrow some books from a friend and master Analytics or discover case studies and corporate histories that will be invaluable in a year. You could learn to become fluent in Spanish…
You have to sit by the side of a river for a very long time before a roast duck will fly into your mouth.
Now what did you say you were doing again…?
There are a billion ways to make no money. This is a proven fact. In fact I have proved this many times with ventures and ideas which haven’t earned a single red cent. And it’s a common experience. I’m not alone in bumming out on ideas so it’s easy for the majority to understand the effort required to end up making nothing. The consequence of all of this is; if you like it or not your communication will be reduced by your listener at some point to two vital questions…
1. How does it work?
2. How can it work for me?
There are different ways to arrive at these two questions because everyone will attack it from their perspective. Marketers from a marketing perspective, technicians from a process perspective, finance departments from a budgetary perspective… but believe me this is the end of the line. This is the station where all communication trains come to rest their tired little wheels (or whatever trains have).
If you are communicating your idea you must know the answers to these questions before you start. It’s more important than trying to predict how people will construct their response mechanisms and you can be sure as hell that whilst you are blabbing people will be nutting out how the idea works and how it can work for them.
Do you really want to to know how things like leverage and investment banking really works? Do you really want to know what a sub prime is? If you want to stop having strange and convoluted conversations with me about the “crisis” then believe me, you do.
Watch this. It’s green and designy, okay it’s simplistic, but then again so is losing billions of dollars…
When times are tight mentalities become tight too. The leeway allowed in times where everyone is making money is drawn in and the result equates to the most basic forms of business communication – How does it work? How can I make money from it?
If you can’t answer these two questions directly and with clear conviction your chances of success in a crappy market are greatly diminished.
When change is the only constant (like always, but particularly like now) there must be a degree of education in your communication. It is important to give the information but equally important to educate the listener as to why the information is potentially interesting to them. The listener will use existing reference points to compare your information against ideas they have already accepted as truths so if you bulldoze in and propose to change everyone’s lives you will meet rejection. If you make links between what your listeners think and how your idea can help your chances of success will be greatly improved.
Sometimes changing the world is more subtle than you think.
I used to live not too far from here (relatively speaking, in Australian terms). If you have never experienced the difference between 30°C and 50°C (note to French people – stop telling me it’s hot when you are obliged to take off a cardigan or two), nor walked home from school in a howling northerly coming straight out of the desert with the sky blood red knowing that somewhere it’s already started to burn, it’s difficult to imagine the full horror of these images.
My thoughts are still with the families of the South-East.