I know, I know. It sounds idiotic. Until you stop long enough to think about the truth of it.
Got any young single adults in your life? Maybe your kids? We were kids once. On the dating scene. Like most young people we were focused on what we wanted. Or what we hoped for. An attractive person who would date us. Now here we are as SMB owners and we want the same thing – customers willing to hire us, buy our stuff, invest in our services. We’re looking for people to say, “Yes.”
It’s a noble pursuit. I’m not throwing rocks at it. Let’s just flip it on its head though so we can accomplish something. Namely, we want to hit the first leg of the business building trifecta – getting new customers. Let’s think more about how we can be attractive enough so somebody will say YES to us. And let’s think less about how badly we want what we want.
I remember telling my kids when they were dating (and I’ve since told just about every young person who has entered my life the same thing), “If you want to find a good person, then be the person a good person would find attractive.”
The same could be said for our businesses. I know prospects aren’t all the same. Some are superficial looking for the cheapest solution. Maybe that’s exactly who you’re aiming to attract and serve. WalMart is. Some are hard to please, but they’re willing to pay a premium because they want to feel special, and part of an exclusive club. Aston Martin attracts them. Some are desperate for a solution right now. Uber fits the bill. Prospects come in all shapes, sizes, and preferences. Your prospects are looking for certain things. It’s up to you to know what those are. Then it’s up to you to offer those.
Growth happens in only a few simply stated ways. We sell more people. We sell more stuff to the same people. We sell more stuff to more people. Sure, there are pricing strategies employed. We can sell the same amount to the same people, but at a higher price. There are offering strategies. We can sell the same stuff, plus some new stuff to our existing clients. But no matter all these (and many other) details — we all need to be attracting new customers. If we don’t, our business will die. Either slowly or quickly.
Like any legacy, our business depends on new people to replace or be added to the existing customer base. And customer base is everything! Without it, our business will fall.
Too many small to medium-sized businesses go on auto-pilot when it comes to attracting customers. Even if we’ve achieved some sustainable success in getting new customers…we can get stuck. And our being stuck will cost us. Plumbers once relied on The Yellow Pages. Whenever people had an emergency – which is mostly when we call plumbers – they looked at the advertising in The Yellow Pages under plumbers. Numerous plumbers who found success with that strategy got smashed by refusing to figure out how to remain attractive to prospects. Those of us who grew up in the 70’s once thought bell bottom jeans were attractive. Fortunately, some of us gave them up sooner than others because we saw how ridiculous and unattractive they eventually began to look. Being attractive is an ongoing process.
Sometimes maintaining attractiveness is tougher than being attractive when we begin. Time goes on and with it, our zest for the quest. If your business is more than 5 years old things have changed drastically. Mostly because our behaviors and expectations as people continue to change. Speed is key. We want what we want and we want it now. And we expect it to be 100% as we want it. It’s up to us to figure these out and to keep them figured out. That means you’ve got to open yourself up to the truth that your attractiveness isn’t – can’t be – stagnant!
This means we’ve got to stop focusing on what we want and instead concentrate on what our customers want. Which means a big priority for all of us is to keep in touch with the ever-changing desires and needs of our customers. We either meet them and stay relevant, or we ignore them and enter obscurity.
The last few weeks have been busy weeks in the NBA and NHL. Both leagues are in free agency season. General managers have been prowling for the talent they feel they need to give their teams the best chances for winning. Some are in rebuilding mode, knowing they’re a few years away from really being relevant. They’re battling to fend off obscurity. But they know they need more time. Others are already in obscurity and have little clue how to escape it. Then the top tier teams know they’re competitive and relevant, but they realize they have to pursue it even harder because their competitors are pushing hard, too.
They look out over the list of available players. Some of those players are attractive because they’ve got specific skills and experience to fit the bill. Compensation, experience, ages, skills…they’re all in play as teams decide which players to add or subtract from their roster. Until a player is unable to compete at a level high enough to stay in the league, there’ll be a team who will find them attractive. In their business model, the athlete has to remain attractive. If they fail, they’ll find no takers and that ends their professional athletic career.
We have the same burden they do. Our job is to keep on our toes so our business becomes and remains attractive to the market. The market wants what it wants. It rewards what it feels is worthy of support. It can be your business. Or not. It’s up to you.
So don’t be arrogant. Don’t sit idle thinking you once had it figured out and it’ll return. It won’t. Bell bottoms aren’t coming back (well, let’s pray they don’t). It’s time to move on and keep up with what our prospects and customers want. Let’s focus more on giving it to them in the most remarkable fashion possible. If we’re outstanding in our execution, then we’ll have an outstanding business.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!
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