It’s human nature to want to please everyone. To feel accepted. To not stray too far from the herd. These are instincts we’re born with, but not instincts that we should be applying to our businesses.
Years ago I remember letting these instincts drive my decisions. People would ask, “Jason, who is IWearYourShirt for? What type of companies should buy?” And I would reply, “It’s for everyone! Everyone should pay me to wear t-shirts!” There’s no doubt that IWearYourShirt could have attracted a very wide audience, but that doesn’t mean it should have. In fact, I believe that’s part of what led that business to eventually closing down. It wasn’t focused narrowly enough, and when you try to create something for everyone, you end up creating something for no one.
What I’ve come to learn over the years, through selling a lot of different things (sponsorships, courses, books, software), is that the products you are selling will have more success if you focus on these two things:
Thing #1: Making your customers badass
This is not my original idea. I’m borrowing it from Kathy Sierra who wrote a book titled Badass: Making Users Awesome. In the book, Kathy explains why your goal shouldn’t be to sell the benefits of your product or service, it should be to make your customers badass at whatever your product or service is supposed to help them do.
I applied this thinking to the smaller and more focused version of my sponsorship course, How To Get Sponsorships For Podcasts. The title of the course itself should say it all. If you have a podcast or are thinking about creating a podcast and you want to get sponsors for it, that course is made for you. It’s not a course that will help you get sponsors for your website, event, 5k run, etc. I drew a very clear line in the sand and on the sales page I focused heavily on explaining how sponsorships can bring revenue and legitimacy to your podcast. Both things that help podcasters feel badass.
The thing you are selling is not going to make everyone awesome. It just isn’t. And the more you focus on trying to please everyone, the less you’ll be able to create those 1,000 true fans (or 100 true fans, or 10 true fans!).
What product or service are you selling and how is that making your users badass? How is it making them a better photographer, Mom, freelancer, zoologist, professional snuggler (this is a real job people get paid for…)? What can you change right now on your sales page that focuses less on the features and more on the outcome a buyer should expect to see for themselves or their business?
Thing #2: Your customers should align with what you stand for
It’s easy to accept money from anyone. It’s really hard to say no to money once you understand that you need to surround yourself with the right customers.
I love the Jim Rohn quote:
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
The same thinking applies for the customers you attract. If you are a happy-go-lucky person and you don’t dissuade pessimistic-debby-downers from buying your product, you will eventually start to dislike your business. Not because you dislike those people, but because your business and the people who have paid for it are not in alignment with who you are as a person.
Now, this doesn’t mean your business has to be touchy-feely if you are. It also doesn’t mean that your customers need to be your exact clones. It just means that you should be clear with who you want to surround yourself with crystal clear with who you don’t want to surround yourself with.
I am sure you can imagine what it would feel like if you had to constantly cater to and serve a group of customers that you didn’t see eye to eye with? The answer is: not good. And feeling not good would lead to you not enjoying running your business. Yes, we all need to make money so we can continue doing what we want to do in life, but not at the expense of loathing our businesses.
When I set out to sell my future with BuyMyFuture, I didn’t envision all the scenarios in which I would turn people away from giving me $1,000. But here are a couple of people I’ve specifically told not to pay me $1,000:
- People who want to learn how to make money from passive income
- People who want “work from home jobs”
- People who aspire to be “lifestyle entrepreneurs”
- People who ask if I have shortcuts and hacks to success
- People who want to build up their real estate businesses
- People who want guarantees that I’ll be creating stuff for them for 30-40 years
- People who want me to tell them they’ll make their money back right away
- People who aren’t willing to put in any work or effort on their own
- People who hate unicorns (if you’ve seen the BuyMyFuture video, you’ll get this)
You may be thinking, “okay Jason, not making a few thousand dollars, that’s not a huge deal.” How about turning away 30+ buyers: $30,000+? That’s a pretty big deal, right? Well, that’s exactly how much money I’ve turned away in customers that weren’t right for BuyMyFuture.
I’ve learned my lessons, though. I’ve sold products to people who weren’t the right fit and who I couldn’t help become more badass. Making an extra chunk of money seems great, but the long-term effects those customers will have on my business, and more importantly, the effects those customers could have on the BuyMyFuture community? That is the more critical thing to worry about.
I recorded a short audio podcast that talks more about turning people away:
You should feel equally proud of what you sell as to who you sell it to.
For anyone reading this who is selling their first product or service, this is a hard thing to realize and understand. But if you have the luxury of realizing and understanding this idea early, you’ll be way ahead of the game (about 8 years ahead of me!).
If you’re a few years into your business, there’s still plenty of time to identify who you want to be selling for and finding more of those people. Who are your favorite existing customers? List out everything you know about them (or can find out about them) and search for the places where those people hang out. Also, be more clear on your sales page and with your sales copy to attract those types of (badass) people.