Selling is not only hard but, it’s also uncomfortable, and even painful sometimes.
It definitely takes time to get used to the idea of trying to get somebody to give us their money in exchange for something we have.
Especially if in our eyes, what we have is less valuable than what they have.
After all, you can’t pay rent with your products.
But, here is the biggest mistake. And I don’t mean paying rent with your service.
I mean believing that your product is less valuable than the cash you get for it.
Because if you have done your homework right, then you will understand how painful is the problem your product solves.
Think about it, your customers are going through life mortified by their problem, it’s actually so costly for them, that the money they give you for it is worth it.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t give it to you.
But it isn’t until you realize this, that you are able to see the value of your product.
And it isn’t until you see the value of your product, it isn’t until you fully understand how it actually improves people’s lives, that you will push yourself blindly to get it in front of as many people as you can.
This takes time.
Because first, you have to perfectly match your product, to the problem it solves and the person who buys it.
But as you do, you’ll notice that there are 3 types of customers.
The 3 types of customers.
For every product and every business, there are 3 types of customers and they are as follows:
There is the one that knows it has a problem and knows how to solve it.
The one that knows it has a problem and it’s not sure about how to solve it so it’s looking around for a solution.
And the last of the types of customers is the one that doesn’t know it has a problem and therefore, it’s not even looking for something. This is the evil one, beware of this last one.
This last one will waste your time, it will ask questions and make you feel as if they are interested when in reality, they were never planning to buy in the first place.
And while yes, technically they can all waste your time, the 3rd kind is for sure not going to buy and this is why you need to try to stay away from them at all cost.
Many starting entrepreneurs see all customers equally but, in reality, they are far from equal.
And while you may be struggling for cash and see everybody as a potential customer, with time you’ll see that there is nothing worse than investing time and resources on somebody who was just amused by hearing about a “potential” problem they may have.
But if you haven’t learned about this already, you will very fast because going through this experience struggling to stay above the water is for sure not nice.
It may happen once, it may happen twice but, by the 3rd time, you will be implementing steps to make sure you don’t waste your time anymore.
This leads to the question then of, on whom should you invest your time?
Well, the most logical thing would be to target the 2nd of the types of customers, the one that is aware of the problem but not sure on how to solve it.
Because when you do, in the process you will be exposed to the first group and they will buy your product by default.
Well, not so fast.
While this makes sense logically, the amount of effort required to get the 2nd type of customer to buy your product might still be too expensive, especially as a brand new, starting business.
And here is our first clue.
Selling As A Trillion Dollar Company.
Back in 2007, many people decided to stand in line for days to make sure they would get the new iPhone.
They didn’t do it for Apple.
They did it for themselves.
Because of what it meant to be one of the first ones in the world to have an iPhone.
Would you have done it?
Chances are very slim, about 2.5% slim.
It’s obvious that not every person would stand in line for a couple of days to get a phone.
And Apple knew it, actually, they didn’t want every person in the world to stand in line to get their new iPhone.
Because they knew that the market wasn’t ready yet to buy the new iPhone.
At least not in 2007.
They knew this was impossible, even for them. So, they decided to target a selected group of people.
The Diffusion of Innovation Theory (1962, Rogers)
What this theory tells us is that new innovations or new products don’t really get integrated into our society overnight.
It may feel like they do because by the time you hear about a new product, it’s because it’s spreading, but it’s definitely not overnight.
The theory explains the process in which it happens.
So in every market, you’ll find 5 distinct groups of people:
- The Innovators, they represent 2.5% of the market. These are the ones standing in line for days to get the new iPhone.
- The Early Adopters, they represent 13.5% of the market. These are the ones who went the next week after the lines ended and got the iPhone.
- The Early Majority, they represent 34% of the market. These are the ones who got an iPhone after they saw a friend with one.
- The Late Majority, they represent 34% of the market. They are the ones who had to renew their phone contracts in 2014 and decided to see what the whole iPhone craze is about.
- The Laggards, who represent the remaining 16% of the market. They are the ones who got an iPhone 5 from their nephew two weeks ago because their 98 Nokia stopped working.
Challenges Of New Entrepreneurs
I have to say that here is where I see a lot of new entrepreneurs struggle and one of the biggest reasons why their message gets unclear.
For many new entrepreneurs, translating their vision into small actionable steps is an extremely challenging process.
Because they can’t commit to a particular target segment or a defined set of features and benefits, or just failing to simplify their strategy, affects their message, positioning, and branding.
When you envision your business, you see the successful and complex operations of a large company.
You see people around the world buying your stuff, large departments full of workers, etc.
The challenge comes when based on this, you go ahead and develop your marketing strategy.
This vision will make you focus on trying to appeal to as many people as possible.
After all, large group = large sales
Sales that are extremely needed in the beginning.
But, here is where the problem is.
On the one hand, because you are a small business, you don’t have the money, the time, or the knowledge to reach all those people.
On the other hand, because you target the masses, you’ll end up creating an uninspiring product that nobody wants to buy.
That’s why failing to understand who your target is will ensure you end up with a generic message designed for the Early Majority.
That would just fall on deaf ears.
You know why?
Because those guys will not buy your product if the Early Adopters don’t buy it first.
And the Early Adopters will not buy it either if the Innovators don’t buy your product first.
That’s why as a small business, you must always target the innovators.
Innovators will get your product.
They will see its potential and be willing to deal with all the initial flaws while helping you improve it as well.
And that’s what Apple did.
They focused on targeting the innovators.
They knew that the innovators would become their biggest fans and they will get everybody around them to buy an iPhone as well.
Their goal was clear, get innovators to buy iPhones.
So if you had to allocate each of the groups to the 3 types of customers, it would be like this.
The first type of customer: Innovators.
The second type of customers: Early adopters, the Early Majority
The third type of customers: Late Majority, Laggards.
Don’t be afraid to alienate customer segments, this will actually make it easier to drive sales since it clarifies your message.
1 product with a message targeting the innovators of 1 customer segment.
But, you have to push yourself, you must alienate customer segments in the beginning if you are to get your foot in the game.
Always remember, if you are to succeed, you have to play the long game. Just look at what Amazon has done.
Then, make sure your message targets the innovators. Don’t waste time trying to sell the other customer groups. They will come by themselves as they see the people around them buy your products.
The goal is to get the innovators because they will amplify your message for you.
Now get out there and grow your business!
Make It Happen!
Have you been targeting the masses with your message? Do you have experience with the 3rd kind of customers? I would love to hear about them.
Please share in the comment section your thoughts and how you deal with it.
Embrace it, share it, own it!
If you know somebody who is working hard to grow their business, feel free to send them this post.
All the best,