Somehow, I always end up getting in debates with all kinds of businessmen about their businesses, about their challenges and the problems they have. All the time we get to my favorite discussion, namely how they do marketing. They start telling me they tried social media campaigns but they did not work, that they tried partnerships, but there it was also complicated, that they paid for some AdWords but it did not pay off… and in order to stop the waste of energy around the communication channels they use and which most of the times catch them as a trap – I should try this, too, but I should try this, too, but also this, this and this – even the more dangerous in a test & try era (lean start up is indeed a good business model, but it does not mean that we can experiment forever), I go and ask the most unexpected question of all: who do you talk to, after all? Who is your public? After a few seconds of hesitation, the answers start flowing: well, women who want to feel good about themselves. Hm… is there on this Earth a single woman who does not want to feel good about herself? Or: women who want to be different and noticed. Oh, come on, since the holy genesis, do excuse me, even before the millennials and individuality era, women have wanted to be special, noticed, even discussed, not to say envied. Of course, my interviewer does not expect my reactionless reaction, thinking that well, he gave me a specific answer, it is a clear segment, not a vague one based on age, education and income. Yet sometimes even these can really help.
So, to help with the insight, I go on asking: who is buying your products? And why, do you know? What is attracting them? What do they like? What don’t they like? The right answer to this question can be most of the times a golden mine, literally, because behind the unknown or unsaid things lays what marketing calls strong buying barriers, and their simple identification would bring us closer to their elimination and, thus, to the possibility to convert more clients into buyers. Or more often. More cash, less lost business.
The most common characteristic of entrepreneurs seems to be passion, the „soul” they put in what they do. And this should not amaze us, because we are a Latin people, after all. But what gives the business a breath of air and fuels it to go on can be in the same time also dangerous, because there is a risk of an exaggerated subjectivism when passion, nostalgia and the tribute to the resources already consumed become a purpose. Meaning: I have invested so much, I cannot stop now. This is my life here. In its light form, the problem is about being more concentrated on the business and product itself than on the real value that it brings to the market, to the clients, themselves very real. The reference system is too internalized to qualify as a reference system anymore. The objectivity exercise tends to become painful and costly, yet sometimes it would be an extremely justified cost as to reposition the business on its right path.
So, what I sometimes do with the people I meet, but also with my clients, is to ask them, as respectful as possible, some hard questions meant to put aside, at least a little, the smokescreen. Which I also recommend to you. Anytime you feel like saying something about your product, ask yourselves: So what? As if you were the client. Why should I buy from you? What are you actually selling to me?
Questions help not only to clarify the value offered, but also to identify possible client segments – not only current, but also potential (potentials are magical). The trigger is pulled when, with some effort, answers start coming up and the smokescreen disappears, so that the passion starts serving that exact reality. Meaning – the client and what he wants, not one’s own ego.