That’s why one of the keys to your success is to realize that your customers are your compass. In fact, there’s no quicker way to build a sustainable business than to talk to your market directly and ask them what they want.
What I’m about to share with you will save you HOURS of time, and possibly a lot of money as well!
So, if you’re thinking about how to make your new business idea profitable or are ready to launch a new product or live event, don’t lock yourself away in your creative incubator. Get out there and start asking your clients for feedback. Here’s how…
Step 1: Identify who you SHOULD (and shouldn’t) talk to.
The shoulds – If you’re an established business owner, you definitely want to reach out to your past clients and current clients. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a client list yet, you want to talk to people in your centers of influence. These are people who know your ideal client. A web designer would include copywriters, marketing strategists, and content managers, in her circle (to name a few). A bookkeeper would want to talk to CPAs, estate planners, realtors even—anyone who knows her ideal client.
Obviously, centers of influence are powerful resources for business owners at all levels. As an entrepreneur mentor to women, I make a point to stay connected with other women entrepreneurs who share the same calling. We all remain powerful resources to each other, while also serving women around the world to help them live their best lives.
The shouldn’ts – Don’t get feedback from sources who aren’t in your target market or who don’t know your market very well. And don’t go for people who are too nice. Do look for people who will give you honest, direct feedback. If three of your ideal clients think your new website is confusing, but your best friend thinks it’s adorable, you might want to pass on getting her feedback. (You can always turn to her on those days when you need a pep talk!) Just keep in mind, this exercise isn’t about stroking your ego. It helps to hear motivations and frustrations of your ideal client, so you can design a solution that makes them happy.
Action step: This week, make a list of 6 people you can reach out to and ask for feedback.
Step 2: Request an informational interview.
Asking for client feedback is essentially doing market research for your business, so when you start requesting interviews, it’s okay to be transparent about your intentions. Before you reach out, decide if you want to do the interview in person or over the phone.
Action step: Use the copy below as a template for an email you can send out, or use it as a script if you prefer to invite them by phone:
Subject: I need your advice
I’m expanding what I offer in my business, and I would love to get your advice on a couple of things because I respect your opinion.
Specifically, I’m looking for [what you think I should offer to clients like you, clarity around my marketing message, ideas for titles, etc.]
I appreciate your feedback and ideas as I grow my business to help more people. When would be a good time for us to hop on the phone for a 15-minute chat?
Step 3: Make the interview matter
In my Elevate online business training program, we suggest that our members record their market research interviews. My team and I use and recommend Free Conference Call HD (free) or Audio Acrobat (paid).
Always, let your interviewee know that you will be recording the conversation!
Action step: Jot down a list of questions you are going to ask during your interview. Below are a few suggestions:
• What worries you? What about this area keeps you up at night?
• What would you like to change / make better?
• What’s the biggest result you want to have in this area?
• How much time would you invest into getting to this result?
• How much money would you being willing to invest into that result?
• What would you like to learn more about in this area?
• If you didn’t remember my name, what would you type into Google to find me?
• What would I need to say right now that would cause you to pull out your credit card this very instant and buy from me?
Step 4. Incorporate their exact words in your marketing
During the interview, you’re going to spend most of your time listening, not talking. This isn’t a sales conversation—it’s research. The goal of the conversation is to listen to the language your interviewee uses because you’ll be using these exact words in your product, your titles, your services, your sales pages, etc.
So let’s say Jill, a nutritionist, is interviewing a past client and asks, “Cassandra, tell me what your biggest challenge is in the area of eating healthy.”
Cassandra answers, “I feel like there’s never enough time for me to prepare healthy meals ahead of time. Then I just end up stuck in this cycle of being starving when I get home and totally binging on junk foods. At the end, I feel sick, deflated, and out of control.”
Jill would gather from this interview that TIME is a major issue for Cassandra. Should her next product be a healthy shake or a delicious nutrition bar—or an ebook on 10-minute healthy meals? The interview has not only helped give Jill some direction, but she can also use Cassandra’s trigger words in her marketing message. Jill’s sales letter could say something along the lines of: “Do you have time to prepare healthy meals after work—or are you stuck in a vicious cycle of starving then binging on junk food? Hi, I’m Jill Jackson, and I’m here to help you take control of your health.”
Can you see how valuable a 1:1 interview with a client or key person could be for your business? You could save hours of time and get a tremendous jumpstart by just doing a little research BEFORE you take your next idea to market. Now, get moving, and good luck!
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite way to talk with your market and collect valuable feedback? I’d love to hear what’s worked well for you in the comment section below.
© 2013 Ali International, LLC
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“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com“