As I was checking my email on the way into a meeting last week, I saw a message from a former colleague of mine. It started by explaining how she had been in a brainstorming session at the (MEGA) large company where she works and they were trying to identify potential speakers for an upcoming event. So, she was reaching out to me. That’s as far as I got before the meeting started.
In my head during almost the entire meeting, this is what I heard:
OMG! OMG! I’ve finally made it BIG!! They want me to come speak about something really cool–like branding and storytelling and–well–something cool!! This is AWESOME!! I’m AWESOME!! I need to update my bio, put together a list of topics they can choose from and GET A NEW OUTFIT!!! Yay!!!!!! This is so AWESOME!!!
Okay–besides the fact that I use the word “awesome” far too much in my daily conversations–I can’t even begin to tell you how wrong all of that stuff going on in my head was. Bottom line: I wasn’t being asked to speak. Once I got out of my meeting and had a chance to read the entire email, I saw that what I was actually being asked to do was to provide some names of potential speakers who I thought would be a good fit. (Cue the screeching brakes sound effect.)
Yep. No glory. No recognition of awesomeness–real or otherwise. No new outfit. BUT–it was an opportunity to reconnect with a former colleague and provide value where it was needed.
So, What’s The Lesson Here?
Well, besides the need to read ALL of an email before jumping to conclusions, this experience also serves as a reminder of this critical lesson:
NEVER ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT!
Yes–I know the person contacting me wasn’t a customer. BUT–she was someone who was looking to me to provide a specific thing of value: my opinion and suggestions. And by delivering on that, it provided an opportunity to build a more authentic and meaningful relationship. And that’s exactly what we need to do when it comes to our customers.
When we assume we know what our customers want, we’re typically wrong. And you know what the result is? Lost sales, lost opportunity, lost interest, lost trust. We’re not mind readers–and we should NEVER fool ourselves into thinking we are.
Do you want customers who love you and what you do? Who will tell all of their family, friends and colleagues how AWESOME you are? (See–there’s that word again.) Who will look to you for solutions to the challenges they face? Then, here’s how you do it:
LISTEN TO THEM, HEAR WHAT THEY’RE STRUGGLING WITH AND DELIVER THE SOLUTION.
How do you do this? Here are a few ways:
- Monitor them on social media. What are they talking about on Twitter, in Facebook groups, on LinkedIn?
- Conduct a survey. You can send it out to your email list or post in on a social media platform. It’s easy to do with services like SurveyMonkey.
- Read reviews on platforms like Amazon. The negative ones can actually be really helpful because they’ll often include information about what a customer needs–but isn’t getting–from a competitor.
- Talk to them! Identify people in your target audience who would be willing to talk to you for 15 or 20 minutes on the phone or who will meet you for a quick cup of coffee. This can lead to a goldmine of information and insight.
Now, about that new outfit.
So, I don’t have a speaking gig to use an excuse to get a new outfit. But, why should that stop me. Right? I’m thinking that it might be just the thing I need to put all of the little, tiny pieces of my shattered pride back together again. Good thing no one knows that I actually thought I was going to be a rock star keynote speaker. Whew!
Some Other AWESOME Stuff
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Did you like this? Did you REALLY like it? Then please shout it from the top of your social media rooftops! (In other words, do a little SHARING!)