Finding the Customer You Didn’t Know You Had

The Economic Crisis has created an impetus for change, even in versatile creative organizations. How do you work with an internal team to create a need for change and to launch an initiative that will help you find an audience 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.


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:



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.


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


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.

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?


About the author

Douglas Crets is a Developer Evangelist and Editorial Lead at the Microsoft BizSpark program. He works to tell the story of thousands of startups hosted in the Azure cloud platform built by Microsoft. Traveler, technology enthusiast, meetup leader, education reformer, and global nomad. 1.650.224.1475 or