Many businesses fail because they fall into one of these two traps:
1. They’re not selling what people want to buy. (I call this the Offer Optimization problem.)
2. Buyers don’t know the product exists. (The classic problem of getting enough market visibility.)
In this post, I’ll share with you a step by step framework for minimizing your risk of falling into these two traps.
As you build your business, do the work so that you can answer YES to these questions:
Question 1. Are people asking me to sell this thing?
This may seem like a strange question, but if the answer is “no”, then we’ve got a lot of work to do, to ensure that your product/service will actually sell.
Remember that you are in business to help others, not to just “scratch your own itch”. Your income comes from other people, and business is a structured reciprocity.
The best situation is when there’s so much demand from others for a product or service, that you are simply filling a clear want in the market.
Without an obvious want or request from others, you might just be creating a hobby. A hobby’s great, but it’s not going to sustain you financially.
How do you know that enough people want your offering?
2 ways to find out:
(a) Conversations with other people who are selling this exact kind of thing.
The more it’s a mirror to what you sell, the better. If those “mirror niche mates” (i.e. direct competitors) are friendly and willing to tell you how it’s really going in their marketing of that product/service, then you have the best indicator. They are giving you real, current market data.
If they are honestly finding it easy to sell the thing, then chances are that you won’t have much difficulty selling that thing as well.
Of course, the more similar that niche mate is to you, the better the data.
(b) Conversations with potential customers/clients.
Whom do you already know, among friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, Facebook connections, etc., who are similar to your ideal client?
Have honest conversations with them about your product/service.
Try to discover their answers to these questions:
- Do they really have the problem your product is meant to solve? If not, what related problem do they actually have? If you don’t want to “solve problems” then the question is: what goal or experience are they (not you) so passionate about that they would pay for it?
- Have they bought other solutions/products/services/courses/events to solve the problem or have that experience?
- What features do they most love or use about that current/past solution?
- What features are missing that they wish it would have? Or what isn’t working / didn’t work well, about those solutions?
- Why is it important for them to solve the problem or have that experience? In what ways would it benefit their life if they solved the problem or reached the goal?
Question 2: Does your offering have the features they want?
A lot of entrepreneurs just create a product / service with the features they themselves want.
That’s fine, but you may be way off the mark in terms of what other people (outside your own head!) want.
This is why, in the list of questions I gave you above, when talking with potential clients, that you ask what features they appreciate about the solutions they’ve tried, and what features were missing.
If you can emulate what is working for the market, and fill in the gap that they yearn to have filled, then you will much more likely have an offering that sells well.
Question 3: Does your marketing talk about the benefits they care about?
The “benefits” to talk about in your marketing are what happens to their life, their health, their relationship, their career, etc. after a typical customer uses your product/service.
The reason I say “typical” is because I hope you’ll do authentic marketing, which is honest and sets the right expectations for your audience. Much marketing that’s out there is hyped up, giving case studies that are highly unusual and not of the typical customer. That’s why so many people distrust marketing.
You can be different, you can be authentic, and your audience will sense it.
Think about three movie scenes:
Scene 1 — Before they used your product/service. What was their life like? Why are they needing your product? Focus in on a relevant part of their life, e.g. their health, relationships, career, or whatever your product most helps people with. Describe what that scene is like, before they’ve had the benefit of your product.
Scene 2 — As they use your product/service, what are they enjoying or appreciating about the experience? Is there anything that is surprising to your typical customer?
Scene 3 — After a typical customer has used your product/service, what is their life like as a result? Focus in on the relevant part(s) of their life.
If you can describe the above scenes, you are telling a better marketing story than most businesses.
Do this homework and you’ll see more people really “getting” what you offer.
Question 4: Does the price of your offering seem like a great deal to them?
As your potential client looks like your offering compared to what they’ve already tried or seen in the market, do they get an immediate gut sense of:
“Wow! That’s a great deal.”
You don’t necessarily have to lower your price. It’s all about when comparing apples to apples does it seem like a great deal?
For example, I don’t compare my 1–1 coaching to a beginner business coach who might be charging $50. I compare to experienced business coaches (similar to my level) who charge $500/hour.
Based on the features you offer (that they want!) as well as the benefits of your typical customer, does your price seem like a great deal?
If not, you may need to either lower your price… or, improve the features & benefits of your offering.
Question 5: Are the right people hearing about your offering?
Are you posting about your offering so that your audience/network has a chance to see it? Be sure to contact:
- Your email subscriber list — let them know at least twice if it’s a launch, or if it’s an ongoing service, mention it in your newsletter once a month.
- Your social media — post about your offering several times on your Facebook profile and/or page, your LinkedIn, and any other social media you use e.g. Instagram, Twitter
- Have you spent at least $10 (if you can, $50 or more) in Facebook Ads to make sure your followers know about your offer?
Are you doing some one-to-one outreach?
Don’t take it for granted that your friends, colleagues, biggest fans, will see your offer on social media. 1–1 outreach is important.
See this post for ideas on whom to reach out to, and what to say: