Finding the Customer You Didn't Know You Had

I've been working in my current role for about one and a half years, casting a net into a huge ocean of financial executives and looking for huge fish to secure, bring home, and enlist as corporate speakers in the live events that we do.

The basic method is: find the big fish, get them on the program, and then create marketing literature and web page content that attracts that big fish's cohorts.

When the economic crisis hit, it became apparent that while a large percentage of our customer base would remain the same, there was a huge opportunity to chase after slightly smaller, but vastly more prevalent fish. Well, when I say apparent, I think it became apparent to everyone, because we immediately felt the shift in a declining numbers of delegates who were signing up to attend our functions, in some conferences, and a rise or a steady flow of delegates to others.

So, I have started working on an idea, based strongly in social media and the need for "collectives".It came out of the large success I experienced with taking social media and new media to a conference idea we already worked in the company called Education Industry Investment Forum. You can follow the blog: Eduvest.

My idea is that there dozens of audiences, hundreds of thousands of delegates, and many new kinds of speakers out there who we don't even know we want. How do we bring them into the fold? I want them to be my business partners, my collaborators and my content providers, and I want to work them on my team.

I think this idea sells well within my current company, but I am learning there are several character traits I possess that I have had to be aware of and shift away from to make a busines idea work.

I am learning that with transition comes a very strong need for individual self-awareness and company awareness. We are part of the same whole.

What I'm finding is that when you work in a corporation that has its own successful structure, it is very hard to convince people that you would like to help the business by adding a completely different and enhanced business model to the mold. And the reason why is simple: nobody wants to break the mold. If a mold breaks, you can't use it anymore.

So here are just a couple of things I have learned to do and not to do when you are trying to help:

 

1. Never tell people that they are doing the right thing in the wrong way: This shuts down all communication. In a team, everyone needs to be right, and this is true because of egos and because, realistically, being right helps everyone. Which brings me to the second point.

 

2. Everyone's point of view is valid: This is not to say that ALL points of view are on the same plane. But some people in the mix have a vast bit of experience more than others and everyone should be listened to as an equal player contributing equally important feedback, no matter if that feedback goes a foot or a mile.

3. You can't see the new paradigm through the lenses of the old: It really helps everyone involved if you can put away the old paradigm for just a minute and start seeing the new reality for what it really is, something nascent, something not fully realized, and something that has imminent possibility.

4. Risk doesn't cut it unless you can balance that risk with a monetary achievement: In a sense, it's really not worth the risk unless you can show "X" that by doing this new thing you are basically linking the product or the service or the method to a real and tangible monetary gain.

I have my own questions, but the one that I am puzzling over today is this one: Does one go purely to the web for answers, infrastructure and start-up architecture and contacts, or does business never really leave the ground?

What I mean is, research backs up my claim that customers of a product or a service are rarely waiting to be pitched to. They are searching around the web, picking up phones, and flapping shoe leather in an effort to find what they need. They sometimes know it when they see it, and they know it before they find it.

Why do some companies spend so much time pressing marketing and advertising into a shape that sells to the customer they want rather than the customer they don't know they have?

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