“Growth,” “traction” and “scale” are the entrepreneurial buzzwords of the day. And why not? Who doesn’t want to start a business and watch it scale up to the point where profit and leverage are assured? After all, the point of doing business is to do more business.
Here’s the deal, though. In the hunt for growth, you might be missing a key foundational element.
In the world of marketing automation, robo-tweets and auto-responders, it’s pretty easy to lose touch with reality, let alone lose touch with the thinking, caring and feeling human beings that make up the market you’re attempting to serve. It is important to remember two things. First, your customers don’t want to be served by robots. Second, your customers are critical to the growth of your business.
Market research and user testing can help you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in your prospect’s or customer’s world, but that connection is hardly personal. Those numbers are based on large samples of customers, regions or areas, even entire demographic groups. Sometimes a single customer can give you the insight you need to better serve all of your customers. That’s why, today, I’d like to suggest a practice that just might make you the smartest marketer in the world.
How to Be the Smartest Marketer in the World
I would like to suggest that once a quarter you select an ideal customer—the one that exemplifies the kind of customer that your business craves—and deliver an experience you know won’t scale at your current pricing model.
In other words, do something over the top in terms of serving them, but not as a revenue source, and make sure it’s something that allows you to learn everything you can about them. Learn about what they need, how they struggle, what they love and maybe even what you need to fix in your own operation.
The goal here is to truly understand how a customer interacts with your business. Then, try to take all of that information and apply it in a way that allows you to scale the lesson beyond just one customer.
No matter how many tools we develop to engage, enchant and entertain our audiences, the businesses that consistently win do so by getting very, very good at the things that matter most to their customers. The problem quite often, however, is that we assume we know what that problem is before we try to solve it. In order to truly understand it, we must be willing to get inside the minds of our customers.
Go in for the Deeper Dive
I recently spoke to a ballroom full of orthodontists, and challenged them to choose one ideal patient each quarter. I challenged them to become more than an orthodontist to that patient. I challenged them to become their patient’s own consultant.
I urged them to get their patient’s permission to jump into his or her world. The patient would agree to allow the orthodontist to spend extra time with them, eat with them and floss with them (yes, that last one is personal, but essential for effective braces).
Further, the patient would agree to tell the orthodontist everything about the experience of having braces, be interviewed on camera, keep a food diary, and keep a “how am I feeling today about my braces?” diary, which would include everything their friends and not-so-friends say to them about their braces.
In return for their participation, patients would be given priority appointment slots, gift cards and other perks. They should also be offered as much personal attention as possible.
Use What You’ve Learned to Scale Your Business
The point of the exercise is about a dozen-fold.
Done correctly, your customer is going to get a better result; they can’t help it. In return, you are going to learn what you can—and can’t—do that adds value. You’re going to learn about all the little things that get in your customer’s way from succeeding. You’re going to discover a couple of really, really easy wins; things you actually can do, but never thought to test. You may even learn that there’s demand for this level of service, which may make sense should you decide to frame it as a new offering.
I know that what I’m suggesting is going to take work. But in my opinion, the only way you distance your business from everyone else that says they do what you do is to discover what matters most to your ideal clients, and get very good at delivering it.
This may come at a cost, as extra personal attention, time and perks may be expensive. But the information you can gather from doing this just once a quarter can be invaluable.
You want to gain more clients, serve more customers and scale up your business. But in order to do that, sometimes you’ve got to do things that don’t scale.
If you’re ready for more, continue on to our video to see how one business uses bookkeeping as a measure of their customers’ happiness.