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Looking for the Perfect Customer? Look No Further

By Jonathan Raymond

It’s never been easier to chase after the wrong customers. With the explosion of online marketing tools, you and your team can spend all day (and all night) doing it. Which is why it’s never been more important that you have something—or more specifically, someone—to guide you. The challenge for today’s business owner is to get to know your customer in far deeper ways than you’ve ever done before.

To go from good to great in your marketing (or bad to good), you have to close the gap between what you hope is true about your customers and what is actually true about them.

Here are ten questions designed to help you break out of the rut. You might be surprised not just by what you find, but what this could mean across all the areas of your business:

  1. If we assume that it’s not because of the price or the features, then the real reason people buy from us is ___________.
  2. If I take every want, need, problem or frustration that potential customers come to us with, what it really boils down to is they want us to __________________.
  3. The reason why some people who I wish would buy from us end up buying from our competitors is because we haven’t yet dared to _________________.
  4. Our employees only refer people to our business who are interested in ____________________.
  5. The customers that come back, come back because we make them feel _________________ in a way nobody else does.
  6. We know that no matter what our best customers say they want, what they really mean by that is ______________________.
  7. People refer their friends to us because they know that we are the best in our market at _______________________.
  8. The one piece of positive feedback we hear most often from new customers that always surprises me is ________________________________.
  9. The customers whom I don’t worry about and don’t want to chase are those who I can tell are looking for ____________________.
  10. The people we want to reach are people nobody else can speak to the way we can, because what makes them different is what makes us different, and that is __________________________.

Take some time with these questions. Book a 3-hour meeting with your marketing team to pull each of these questions apart. Figure out what they mean for your unique business. You’ll find that you’ll instantly start making different and better decisions about where you focus your marketing energy and dollars.

But watch what else happens. You might find, as we did, that digging into these questions has the power to reunite and re-inspire your team on what everyone is really passionate about—which is focusing on all the little things that make your business different from all of the others. Keep your focus on the goal. It’s not to show your customers a perfect business, but to show them a business that’s perfect for them.

 

by Matt Wilhelmsen

“We need more sales.”

At some point during the life of your business you’ve probably uttered these words. For most business owners these words have become a part of their regular vocabulary. Without sales, there’s no business. The employees need to get paid, the lights need to stay on and most companies are looking for some level of growth. I get it.

I would even say that more times than not the statement is accurate and even a necessity. But with that being said, it’s the follow-up statement that really consumes us.

“How do we get more sales?”

This is where fear rears its head for the first time. It’s the million-dollar question with more than a million answers. The internet and bookshelves are full of silver bullets and quick fixes. They each guarantee the growth increase you are looking for and promise to deliver them in only 30 days or just 10 steps. And like any fad diet, while there are probably a few good takeaways here and there, the ideas are simply a flash in the pan and not actually sustainable. So then what is sustainable? You are!

When business owners want to speak with us about their need for revenue growth, we typically find ourselves in a conversation about marketing. Marketing is literally defined as, the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. Seems applicable to this conversation, right? Marketing is one of the many ways to increase sales in a business—but at EMyth, if we are going to get serious about marketing, then first, we need to talk about branding.

“Branding?”

I realize our sales conversation has quickly taken two steps backwards, but this is where we can address the root problem. It’s the willingness to take two steps back that separates the flash in pan and a culture of growth for years to come.

This is where we get back to the YOU part. And when we say YOU, we mean the business. In order to tell your customers what you have to offer or the experience they can expect during your interactions, you have to be able to define it. We call that definition your Brand Commitment.

A Brand Commitment does not simply list your services—rather it’s a promise to your customers. It’s what specifically separates you from your competition and drives all decision-making at all levels.

The Brand Commitment provides the WHY to the way you do it. It keeps you customer-focused, creates customer loyalty, and again, it’s your competitive edge. More than anything, it differentiates you while integrating culture and customers.

This is where sales are not only found, but instead lifetime customers are created. This is where an attempt to increase revenues ultimately alters the entire business. People want to buy from companies they trust and enjoy, not feel like they have been sold something.

“So where do I start?”

For now, let’s start with these two questions:

Although the questions are fairly simple, don’t try to answer them in one sitting. Sit with them for the next week and pay close attention to the interactions you are having with your customers and what they would feel like in an ideal world. We want your sales to consume you this week, but in a completely new way.

 

By Jonathan Raymond

Let’s face it, we’re all hung up about money. It might be the only topic we have more confusion and discomfort about than sex. It’s also one of the subjects that many parents don’t feel comfortable talking about with their children. Let’s open up about it. If you’re like most business owners or managers, your financial training is about as relevant to the actual running of your business as your parents’ advice on sex was as a teenager.

At the end of the day, budgeting is where the rubber of your optimism meets the road of your numbers. And these numbers don’t lie (unless you lie to yourself about them). It’s where you can’t hide your performance issues. False bravery won’t get you through it, but choosing to face the fear and not let it stop you from getting help will.

From the fabulously wealthy to the barely getting by, how we are with money – usually too tight or too loose – can undermine our business in profound ways. Dealing with money – especially when it comes to dealing with money with others – evokes powerful memories and emotions from the past. It tests our ability to hold healthy boundaries. And of course, it ties into powerful images and conditioning we get from our culture about what our net worth says about our self worth.

And it’s not just dealing with money day to day. You’re also tasked with quantifying the past and forecasting the future – it’s easy to get overwhelmed and default to old patterns. A business coach can help, getting support from other professionals working on changing their business can help, but it all starts with self-honesty, and tough questions from a trusted advisor, especially the questions a part of you says you “should” already know the answer to.

Our clients will tell you one of the most valuable things in having a coach is that they finally had the safe space to open up about their discomfort and ask questions. What does it really mean to create and manage to a budget? What are my financial statements really telling me? This is true even for some of our most successful clients. How can this be?

The reason is that most business training – and almost all of our cultural conditioning – is focused on the sale, and on the sexy top line revenue numbers. The operational and analytical aspects (expense management and budgeting, for example) are rarely given the same import – and yet, those aspects are critical elements if you are going to navigate your business through the inevitable ups and downs.

The work can be slow and sometimes tedious. But without digging in here, you end up too dependent on closing the next deal even if you know inside it’s not the right deal, and you go after convenient customers even though you know they’re not the right customers, the ones who will spread the word about your brand to the markets you really want to reach.

At the end of the day, budgeting is where the rubber of your optimism meets the road of your numbers. And these numbers don’t lie (unless you lie to yourself about them). It’s where you can’t hide your performance issues. False bravery won’t get you through it, but choosing to face the fear and not let it stop you from getting help will.

 

By Jonathan Raymond

What is it about asking for help, or about accepting it when it’s offered, that is so hard? Especially for business leaders, where did we get the idea that admitting our weaknesses and accepting that we have blind spots is perceived as a fatal flaw – something we have to hide or deny in order to have business success?

There are so many examples that go against this natural tendency to try and “go it alone”. Anyone who understands basketball knows that Michael Jordan needed Phil Jackson, a great coach, to win all those championships (and of course a great supporting cast that “owned” their roles).

While the sports metaphor is easy, it’s just as true in politics, in the arts, and of course in business. All great leaders have a trusted advisor (or several) who let them hear it when they take their eye off the goal they say they are aiming for. We don’t always hear about these people, but they’re there – quietly being who they are, almost always out of the limelight.

A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.Tom Landry

And it’s not as if pretending to not need help actually works. It doesn’t, or shouldn’t, take much to look around your business and honestly see how far away it is from really serving your life, rather than consuming it the way it does today.

Your employees who watch you all day would be the first ones to tell you there are some things you don’t see (though of course they can’t tell you). And sometimes, your blind spots are things they don’t see either – because they’re busy with their own challenges and don’t have the view that you have. But by and large business leaders just keep driving ahead, because that’s what got them this far, not realizing that once you hit a certain point in the evolution of a business, the game fundamentally changes. It’s a reasonable assumption – wrong, but reasonable – that if you just do more of what you’ve been doing – you can push through.

The key is to let go of all the “shoulds” that drive so much of the anxiety and overwhelm. That you “should” know how to lead (as if that came with filing your articles of incorporation), that because you own or run a business that means you know how to design and create the right systems to scale and grow (as if that has anything to do with the craft that is your real gift and passion), or that you should already have a vision, based in your values, and have a strategic plan for getting that into the DNA of your business (as if they teach that anywhere, especially in MBA programs, besides EMyth of course!). And of course, that you should do all this and achieve some mystical thing called ‘work/life balance‘ (as if you are superhuman, instead of a passionate entrepreneur who is overwhelmed with the complexity of running a business in the modern world).

At some point, the madness has to stop. Either you stop it or it stops you – with a crisis of some kind – health, family or financial. And of course it’s a short trip from any one of those to the other two. Your job is to not let it get that far.

It comes down to a choice. You can take the truth that nobody is coming to save you as reason to hunker down and push on. Or, you can see how that truth actually liberates you to save yourself – to serve yourself and your business – by getting the help you need. We all know this from our life experience – when someone gives it their all and then opens up and admits they need help – we say “Wow, that took a lot of strength”. That kind of courage is inspiring. It doesn’t lower our estimation of that person, it raises it.

So, as we end the first quarter I invite you to revisit that choice in you. Are you strong enough to stop going it alone? The business world is filled with people desperate to convince the world that “things are okay”, that “business is great!”.

What breaks the mold – the leaders of the next great global economy – are people who are more interested in what’s real than what people will think. And there’s no shame in that.

 

By Martin Kamenski

The overwhelming majority of content out there about how to become a better leader is always focused on personal development. “Four Habits All Successful Leaders Have,” “Three Leadership Traits to Adopt Today,” “Build Your Leadership Potential …” You need this seminar! Buy this book! Join our peer group for the ultimate personal development experience!

Being a leader has nothing to do with how good or how strong you are, how smart or how networked you are, or anything about your ability to see yourself in the mirror and imagine something greater. Being a leader is about other people and things. Not you.

Start by asking yourself what you are leading. I’d love for someone to show me otherwise, but I can’t imagine one person locked in isolation can be a leader. You need someone or something to lead. So what is it? A church? Business? A classroom? Regardless of the venue, leadership comes from believing in the innate power of those you are leading. It’s about trusting in them and finding ways to get as many obstacles out of their way as possible so they can achieve their fullest potential. Too often those in leadership positions can get caught up in feeling it’s their own paths through development that will suddenly create outsized results for their staff, their team, their community. But it’s not about you. It’s about them.

Outsized results are not about finding ways to make your employees superhuman. It’s about giving them the gift that so few people in the world will give them—the opportunity to just be human. To need space and time off. To have a life outside their work. To make mistakes. Yes, to make mistakes … The truth is, people are, generally speaking, already quite hard on themselves. We all want to succeed. So when things don’t go well, what most people need is encouragement, support and the wisdom to help them see what they weren’t seeing so they can make positive changes next time. By believing in people’s inherent ability to come together and make great things happen, leaders start to foster what might be the most important element of the equation: an attitude of “What can I do?”

When your sales team is low on new opportunities because marketing efforts haven’t hit their mark, a “What can I do?” attitude doesn’t leave them asking “When are we ever going to get a chance to get back on the phones? It’s been a week since my last sales call …” No! It means they ask, “Hey, do you think there’s some collateral I could take to this local Business Leader event? I imagine we have a lot of prospective clients there I could talk to.” When unemployment is high in your community, a “What can I do?” attitude asks, “Are there programs I could participate in that would both subsidize my income, but at the same time build support for the community to build long-term jobs?”

When the employees of your business start asking themselves “What can I do?” on a regular basis, it will be the single biggest indicator that you’ve established a culture of ownership. Of self-responsibility. And a culture where the employees believe in the power of themselves. And the only way they’ll believe it is if you to show them how you believe in them.

So stop worrying about yourself and your habits and your personal growth.

And start believing in your people and what you are working to achieve together.

 

By Bernadette Jiwa

We spent $500 billion globally on advertising in 2013. Every year we’re spending more money, to interrupt more people, more often, with messages they don’t care about and don’t pay attention to. We’ve come to believe that the way to succeed is to have an advantage—by being different or better, more visible, or just plain louder.

For the past fifty years we’ve been thinking about marketing as a department. We made the mistake of forgetting to see the world through the eyes of the people we wanted our ideas to matter to. We went from operating with empathy 
to selfishly trying to make people pay attention to what we had
 to say or sell, whether they might want it or not. By looking for 
a shortcut to a quick win, we wasted chances to be generous, to engage with and inspire people. But in a world of infinite choices and digitally empowered consumers, quick wins no longer build sustainable businesses, and they certainly don’t create brands that people care about.

Now more than ever before, the ideas, businesses and brands that succeed are the ones that help to reinforce, enhance and shape the cultures, beliefs, aspirations and behaviors of their audience. Brands that have recognized and found a way to become part of subtle cultural shifts—shifts around nomadism, conscious consumption, simplicity, provenance, environmental consciousness, connectedness, self-expression, nostalgia, adventure, real food, female body image and on and on—have thrived. Examples include Lululemon, Whole Foods, Airbnb, Warby Parker, Kickstarter, Instagram, Dove, KeepCup, Patagonia, Innocent Juices, Method, Zipcar, charity: water, Dropbox, TED.com, Apple, Starbucks, Khan Academy, Task Rabbit and Sugru, to name a few.

Actually, marketing is, and has always been, a transfer of emotion.

Conventional wisdom advocates developing a product and then creating a big marketing funnel in order to sell it, which means doing whatever we can to attract the most potential customers and then 
to convert some to leads. The tactic is to bombard those leads with our messages in the hope of getting a few people to care about our products and services. This approach has become an unsustainable and zero-sum game. What’s working now is doing exactly the opposite: figuring out what people want and finding ways to delight one person at a time, one person who is thrilled to talk about you to her friends, essentially turning the funnel on its head.

Open any business book and it will tell you that marketing is the
 set of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the seller to a buyer. The exchange of products for money. This for that. Even in the days before advertising, though, when ancient tribes traded pieces of flint for other things they needed, marketing was much more than a series of activities that ended in a transaction.

Actually, marketing is, and has always been, a transfer of emotion. It’s about changing how people feel and, in turn, helping them to fall in love with something, or maybe just a little bit more in love with themselves.

Marketing has always been an art. We’ve tried to turn it into pure science with big data and focus groups. Of course it’s helpful to be able to use analytics to know how long people spend on your website or where they give up during the on-boarding process for your application. And while AB testing will tell you which version of your landing page or copy a customer prefers (and that information 
is useful, too) it’s not enough. In order to create the product or write that copy in the first place, you need to have a story to tell, a story that your customers will want to believe in. And before you can begin to create difference for them, you need a product or service they can care about and love using. Some of the marketing theories and practices of the past seventy years made us forget that. Now we have a chance to rewrite that story.

It’s not just time to flip the funnel; it’s time to care about what people actually want. In our digital world, customers exchange things that can be far more valuable than cold hard cash, things like time, loyalty, content, ideas and endorsements. I believe we need to change our thinking, and begin building our businesses around difference, to help our customers not just to buy from us but to love our brands because they believe in what we do.