What You Really Need Is A Customer (and some blinders)

NOTHING matters more than getting customers

A prospect calls. That’s almost always a good thing. Almost.

The first thing he said to me was, “I need a better website.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Just look at the site I have now. It looks awful,” he drones.

His site is plain, but far from awful. It’s the typical small business website done by a big company that is selling him other services, including pay per click (PPC) campaigns. It’s got 3 pages and they’re all okay, but nothing special.

“Aside from failing to win any design awards, what isn’t your current site doing that you’d like it to do?” I ask.

“It just doesn’t look professional,” he replies.

“If it were as professional as you’d like, what would that do for you?” I ask.

“I bought a book on WordPress. I’m reading it right now,” he says…seemingly avoiding my question.

“Why are you reading a book on WordPress?” I inquire.

“Because WordPress is what everybody tells me I should use,” he proudly answers.

“But why are YOU studying WordPress?” I ask, keeping this interrogation going.

He goes into a long explanation of how dedicated he is to build his business. Talks about how brilliant he is at figuring things out by diving into a subject and knowing all he can about it.

I’m frustrated listening to him because I’ve heard this a hundred times before. Business owners who are often what Michael Gerber describes as “technicians.” They’re people who practice something, or know how to do something. Accounting. Lawyering. Repairing. Painting. Counseling. You name it…some service related kind of business. They do something and they’re accomplished at it.

Maybe because they’re doers of a service, they gravitate toward finding something else to do. Just my luck I run into business owners who are like squirrels darting all over the place nervously  jittering around the neighborhood. But I want to help them.

Some business owners need blinders to keep them on track

“Listen, you don’t need a new website. What you really need is a customer!” I tell him. I don’t think he heard me. I repeat it. He’s still going strong about how he’s gonna learn WordPress. I say it a third time and without missing a beat he says, “That’s why I need to get this website figured out.”

It’s evident that I’m not going to get through to him. He’s made up his mind to become a WordPress expert so he can create a more professional website. I let the conversation wind down knowing how this is going to end up for him. He’s going to pay way too much money to people who will promise him high rewards in the land of online marketing. He admitted he had already spent over $10,000 for a person who had delivered nothing. “I got nothing! Not one thing,” he confessed. Until he runs out of money he’ll keep throwing money at the problem.

Maybe he’ll make it. Maybe he won’t. I don’t know. I hope he figures it out. I hope he finds somebody who will honestly do for him what I’d like to do for him. But he’s not my customer. He’s not a good fit for me because he’s got all the answers, even though he’s filled with questions. He’s amped up like so many business owners I talk with. Like a dangerous drunk driver, he’s all over the road. Emphasis on the word “dangerous.”

Websites. Social media. PPC. SEO. Blogging. Too many business owners are parroting the things they’ve heard. They tell me they need it all.

What they really need are customers! And some blinders so they can maintain focus on the real issues of building a business.


P.S. Yes, I do indeed help small businesses with online marketing, but I remain focused on the trifecta of business building:

  1. Getting new customers
  2. Serving existing customers better
  3. Not going crazy in the process

Go here right now if you’re interested in my help with your online marketing.

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Grow Great a public sector leadership podcastAbout the hosts: Randy Cantrell brings over 4 decades of experience as a business leader and organization builder. Lisa Norris brings almost 3 decades of experience in HR and all things "people." Their shared passion for leadership and developing high-performing cultures provoked them to focus the Grow Great podcast on city government leadership.

The work is about achieving unprecedented success through accelerated learning in helping leaders and executives "figure it out." 

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