pro pro-activity

You can spend years learning about customer- or talent-centricity, devouring books, courses, and keynotes in the process. In the end, it all boils down to this. Be a pro about pro-activity.

In marketing, anticipating your (potential) customers’ needs and desires is considered standard practice.

In HR, anticipating your customers’ — the people who work with you — needs and desires, is a rather novel idea.

Anticipate your customers’ expectations as well as you can, and cater to them, preferably before they manifest themselves.

paranoid absence

Businesses host (internal- meetings with different people from different departments discussing their products and services. Nothing extraordinary here. During those meetings, they might discuss a variety of topics. For now, let’s stay within the realm of the products and services the business externalizes.

When products and services are offered for sale, there has to be a customer on the receiving end. How many times is there a customer in the meeting room, though? If it isn’t a focus group, but a good old regular meeting, there is almost never a customer among the attendees.

Obviously, having a firm empathic understanding of the customer is the job of some of the people within the company, especially the people in marketing and sales. However, without the voice of the customer in the room, the risk of concluding with critical assumptions is substantial.

Keep your customers close.

tasty brand

Two cookies, baked in the same factory, with the same recipe. Yet, one is generally considered tastier than the other.

One is distributed by a premium brand in equally premium shops, the other one is distributed in discount supermarkets.

If your brain can trick you into thinking one tastes better than the other, think of all the other effects perceived brand value has.

Your brand is an asset and needs constant nurturing.

blending in and out

If we are the product of the five people we spend most of our time with, it could be challenging to connect with people outside of your hemisphere.

Suppose somebody is fortunate enough to grow up wealthy and healthy. In that case, they might perhaps struggle meeting – and subsequently connecting with less fortunate people, and vice versa.

The ability to blend in, to connect with people in all layers of society is a potent asset.

What’s true of individuals is also true of businesses. Depending on the (variety of) products and services sold, the ability to level with your audience is crucial.

meet the committee

One of the most overlooked aspects of business-to-business marketing is the so-called buying committee.

The person you target with marketing initiatives might not be the person who decides whether to buy your product or not.

That means you have to help your end customer to convince their buying manager.

The customer who ends up using and the buying manager will likely have different pains. Consequently, your marketing should highlight different gains for each of these personae individually.

prepare for numbers

Everybody likes numbers. Think of those clickbaity lists or data presented in a nice infographic. Numbers are tangible. If Jay-Z knows what he’s talking about, numbers, as opposed to men and women, don’t lie.

The problem is, not everybody knows how to interpret numbers. Specifically, large numbers are tricky. After all, our capacity for statistical inference is relatively limited, especially if untrained.

Malcolm Gladwell once said: everybody likes numbers; it’s a matter of preparing the reader for them.

When you publish numbers directly connected to using your product, such as the time people will save, the percentage with which their efficiency will increase, the weight they will lose, the number of customers you have, the number of transactions you processed… Gently prepare your leads and customers for the numbers before you bombard them with data.

Build a story around your numbers.

too diverse

What if, in an attempt to find your niche, it turns out your audience is incredibly diverse? It sure makes it challenging to spot similarities among them. Profiling your ideal customer becomes even more cumbersome.

Below are four reasons why diversity within a target audience makes things complicated.

Sample size too small

Perhaps finding similarities within your audience is just around the corner. When you’re just starting out with a handful of customers, finding similarities between your customers could be complicated. If a pattern doesn’t reveal itself straight away, wait until your sample size increases.

You haven’t found them yet

Maybe the similarities are there, but you’re not seeing them. If what you’re looking for is obscure at first, it’s tough to spot. You won’t know what to look for precisely, which isn’t exactly helping in the process. The upside is that you’ll have clear targeting criteria once you do find it.

Their similarity is their diversity

Maybe diversity is the defining factor. The fact that a limited amount of parameters can’t define your audience, that is precisely what defines them. The way forward, in this case, is to look for like-minded people. People that don’t seem to fit a particular profile. That’s your profile.

Can’t be probed

Your audience’s characteristics are tough to define from a behavioral and analytical point of view. In that case, defer to those parameters that are easy to define. Criteria such as geography and age.

It’s like Aaliyah said: if at first, you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.

Building your ideal customer profile doesn’t happen overnight.

sunday carwash

Queuing for a carwash at 8:45 on a Sunday morning. It’s a thing, apparently. Other people might run a marathon, or drive three kids to three hobbies, instead of, well… Sleeping. Why? Because they deliberately choose to.

As unlikely as some of these activities may seem to the rest of us, there is a crowd willing to go out of their way to achieve these very specific goals.

If you can create value, even though it’s a very peculiar value, subsequently profit from it, you (might) have a business (to consumer) model.

Cater that particular value to people who get out of bed early on a free day.

each one teach one

Long before paving the way towards PMF (product market fit), even long before thinking strategically about how to market your solution, you should be able to move someone.

One individual. That’s all it takes. Get them to go to a certain place, perform a specific action, or establish that you were genuinely able to inspire someone (to change their behavior).

How hard can it be? For you to find out. Without strong foundations, a tall building is never really an option. If a (proverbial) skyscraper is what you’re after, build one relationship at a time. Only then to double down on what works consistently.

reach isn’t the goal

Reach — the ability with which you can address people — alone is not enough. Working day in and day out to build a following on numerous networks and social media sites is not a goal in and by itself.

Why pursue an extensive reach? So that, when you talk to people, preferably as many as possible, they listen.

Being able to reach ten million people is potentially valuable. Still, without your crowd engaging with your message, the value of that particular audience rapidly declines.

How to build an audience for your business? Optimize (individual) relationships and scale them up, one by one. The other way around, chasing big numbers first might look nice on paper, however, a large crowd refusing to take a desired action, isn’t worth all that much.