Success can sometimes breed failure. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of businesses start off strong out of the gate only to slowly start to fizzle.
The excitement and optimism that once was fades as reality sets in that month-over-month things are not as good as they were last month, quarter or year.
This is exactly what happened to Tom.
Just four years ago he graduated college with a degree in Physical Therapy with a 4.1 GPA and he minored in business. After graduation he was courted by a number of prestigious companies but he realized that working for someone was just not in the cards for him.
He didn’t go to school to get a J.O.B., he went to school to learn a skill around something he enjoyed and could build a business around.
Tom was an all-state soccer player in high school and he loves sports!
He realized that being a professional athlete was not a long term financial strategy for his future. While he loved the sport he loved helping people more.
When he started his business in the suburb of a major city it wasn’t hard to network with the local youth sports leagues and some doctor’s offices.
His business started to grow and in fact it was growing too fast.
So he decided to get ahead of it and began expanding too quickly. He took on a whole lot of debt, built onto his facility and added equipment that would be helpful to his client’s recovery.
But something happened…
His clientele did not grow as anticipated after the expansion.
It seemed like a no brainer at the time, but no matter what he tried he couldn’t meet the demands of his finances. And to think, not too long ago the future seemed so promising.
He was frustrated, going broke and he didn’t what the problem was or what to do.
On month turned into two months and the stress started compiling. He was getting behind in his personal finances as he was doing everything he could to keep his business going.
In fact, each month seemed less promising than the next.
What was the real problem that Tom was struggling with?
Tom Makes Assumptions That Get Him into Trouble
Do you remember the old saying about what happens when you make assumptions? Yep, that is essentially what happened to Tom.
Tom didn’t have a problem with his business model, prices, services or location.
He had a problem with assuming that all of his clients were just like him.
During college he learned some really bad habits that the world was teaching him.
What were they?
#1 – He Talked in His Own Lingo
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone understands you. Tom loves big words and to him they make perfect sense.
Tom forgot the basics of great communication.
When he would go to a networking meeting, when he created his website and wrote a blog article he was using words or language the buying audience didn’t understand.
How are they supposed to buy if they don’t know what Tom’s talking about?
Tom got comfortable through his training. He was used to using words that became comfortable to him. In many ways that comfort translated to confidence and competency for him among his peers as they talked about things only he and his peers could understand.
But, impressing his peers and impressing someone who has no idea of what you’re talking about are two completely different things.
When this happens the prospect may be left to feel confused or even upset.
In his world people are hurting physically and they don’t want long explanations many times. They just want to understand in simple terms and they want to feel understood and that there is a hope this will get better with treatment.
Tom was making things hard for them. It felt like he had terrible bedside manner and it was coming off as he was arrogant and inconsiderate.
He didn’t mean to and he was horrified to learn that this was the impression he was leaving people with.
It leaked out into his marketing and it affected the word-of-mouth as people started talking in the community.
#2 – He Assumed His Experiences on His Audience
In the beginning making some assumptions is very helpful but as any good business person knows assumptions can go terribly wrong. The only thing that keeps a business from getting off track is hard data.
But, many small businesses don’t value taking the time to learn how to find, use and decipher data for their businesses.
Some see it as an inconvenience to their business instead of a benefit.
Recently I was working with a client in the second stage of my coaching program and what we discovered was fascinating.
Some of the databases I have access to can tell you virtually anything you want to know about a community. Its average home value, income levels, family sizes; and the ability to see where they spend their money (not specifically by household of course – we do need some privacy, right?).
She realized she was leaving a very important segmented audience out because she didn’t even know it existed.
Once we identified the audience we could then evaluate where they like to hang out and what specific marketing strategies to take.
For example she discovered what kind of magazines many in her audience subscribe to and she was able to create a strategy to engage them on the magazine’s website in a way that was appropriate and non-spammy.
There is an incredible amount of data from both government and private databases like Dun & Bradstreet, among just a few.
If you assume your audience is just like you; you will find yourself in Tom’s situation. It’s not an “if” it’s a matter of “when” you will find yourself in a place you would prefer to not be if you are leaving it to assumptions and a gut feeling.
#3 – He Talked Too Much About Himself
I get it, we all have slobbering love affairs with ourselves and yet for some that love is so deep for self we have to tell the world.
No wait, we have to shout it!
But the truth is who really cares?
As much as you love yourself, your audience loves themselves more.
That’s just the truth. That’s the narcissistic society we live in now for better or for worse.
In business we cannot go around beating our chests about how great we are; how much our sales have grown; or try to persuade others through talking about ourselves.
Tom’s website, social media, videos and other advertisements were all about himself and his business. He is the center of his business when his prospects and their needs or problems should have been the center.
Again, this comes off as self-centered and arrogant.
Tom’s ego was bigger than his needs to attract clients.
Your prospects feel it and know that they are just a means to an end.
No one wants to feel that way.
The Key to Great Marketing that Leads to Sales Results
The key to great marketing that leads to fantastic sales results is realizing that we are not our own ideal customers.
They are not us, they don’t think like us and they don’t want us.
What they want is to feel understood and that you can help them either solve a problem, meet a need or give them their desire.
The rest of it and how it applies to the business is many times not relevant; at least not in the beginning.
There is a place to talk about yourself – like on the “About” page of your website. People do want to know about you but only after they’ve learned if you’re competent to help them.
The key is to make it about them in a way that is genuine, specific and helpful.
How Do I Change the Results I’m Getting?
Tom changed his results when he understood that something wasn’t working. He first had to be honest with himself!
Once he got over being defensive because his ego was hurt he could then pursue solutions that could turn his business around.
I take an approach that says you have to get your business foundation set before all else. However, many do not do this. In fact, many resist it to their own peril.
Clarity + Focus = Execution
Clarity is the part of business that is hard, challenging and for some it’s boring. The truth is it’s boring because they don’t understand it or its power!
Clarity get’s you in position to see your business through the lens of the public instead of through your own filtered lens.
Gaining clarity is a function of:
- Discovering the tangible values that people experience after they’ve done business with you.
- Discovering the “specific” problems each tangible value solves.
- Discovering who you “specifically” solve each problem for.
- Discovering how your product or service is “a” solution to the specific problems
- Discovering what business you’re “really” in.
When you are clear about your business your message changes from focusing on yourself to focusing on your prospects and customers.
You realize there is an entirely different world than the one you’ve created and messaging well and interacting with it is the single most powerful thing you will ever do!
It will literally change your business forever.
Do You Want to Learn How to Gain That Type of Clarity?
If you want to learn how to gain the type of clarity that will help your business grow and excel then join me for an upcoming free webinar titled “The 5 Step Formula to Attract Your Audience Online, Increase Revenue and Position Your Business for Success! “
In it you will learn why your business could be better than it is today and why your website, social media presence and technology are not your “real” problems. There is a webinar you can choose from twice a week so that you can fit it into your calendar.
Here is what a few recent attendees’ of the free webinar said:
“What you teach is priceless Don and if anyone is eager to start their business online then they definitely need to be clear on what it is they do and how to talk to their audience. Laying that foundation is crucial and there is no better time to start than now.” ~ Adrienne Smith, www.adriennesmith.net
“This was a very informative webinar by Don Purdum. He knows his stuff and I gleaned many tips to improve on my website message and create improved clarity for my visitors and readers. Thanks, Don for an hour very well spent.” ~ Lisa Thomson
“I enjoyed the perspective Don brought to marketing. He gave me a lot to think about in terms of what I’m doing with my business. A Lot! I’m still digesting the information. 🙂 Thanks so much Don!” ~ Lori Gosselin
Click here or on the image to discover how to change your message from focusing on you to focusing on your prospects and then position your business for growth!
If you have a thought, idea or comment you would like to share please leave it below and let’s talk. I hope to hear from you!!!!