Did you ever want to grow your business but weren’t sure where to start? Here’s where…
I’ve been in business for a long time, and I’ve got the scars (and trophies) to prove it. I’m currently considering expanding my service lines, developing a specialty service to serve a special demographic.
In the old days this is what I’d do:
- Come up with an idea for a service (which I usually thought was brilliant).
- Hire some people.
- Create the service.
- Try to sell the service.
As you might guess, sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes I won, but way too often I lost. So I learned the first rule of marketing: ask the audience. For some of you, that may sound like common sense. For some, it may sound like heresy.
I’ve read the quotes where Henry Ford said if he had asked the people what they wanted they would have said faster horses. I’ve also read that Steve Jobs indicated it wasn’t the customer’s job to come up with something creative and cool. I get that, but I think those responses miss the mark.
What people wanted wasn’t faster horses but to get from Point A to Point B in a fast, safe manner. People may not have been able to envision the iPod like Steve did, but they knew they wanted to be entertained and they wanted convenience.
So today I had lunch with someone influential in my community to ask her opinion and ideas about the potential new service line. I began with a rough idea of what I wanted to talk about but told her the conversation could go anywhere she would like it to go. I asked her questions. Lots of open ended questions. At first it was challenging. I think maybe she thought I was going to ask her to buy something or commit to something. But I just kept asking, guiding the conversation naturally, and I picked up a ton of great information. Information like:
*What words I should use in my marketing materials. She kept using certain words and phrases that were particularly resonant. You’d better believe I will use those same words in my copy.
*Who else I should talk to. She is an influencer, true, but she’s also a bit of a connector. “If you’re going to go into that business, you want to be sure to talk with so and so….”
*What the pitfalls might be. As we discussed the business idea, she shared her experience of some people moving in that direction but missing some vital element in trying to implement a similar business. In a couple ways, I know I dodged a bullet thanks to her input.
Here’s what I would recommend: If you’re considering going into business or adding a service line to your current business, ask your audience! Ask them what they want. You may get some insight that you never even considered.
The important thing to do is to never assume that something will work. Always research every idea by asking your audience, then doing a test market study by having a small launch before moving forward with a huge time investment.
If you have any questions about how to grow your business, please feel free to email me.