Kelford Labs Weekly: What People Want

Kelford Labs Weekly: What People Want

“But I can’t do that, because people want…”

“I’d love to do that, but people want…”

“That’s how I feel about it, but people want…”

I’ve heard this—hell, I’ve said this—so many times it hurts.

As entrepreneurs, we started our businesses because we felt we knew something other people didn’t.

That we had an approach, a technique, a structure that would allow us to make or provide something that no one else could, in our special way.

We knew we had something different to offer.

And then when it comes time to offer it, we worry about what other people will think.

I’ve heard from luxury product designers that they can’t focus on what they do best, because “people want” cheap junk.

I’ve heard from software developers that they can’t provide high-end consulting because “people want” low-end, hourly services.

I’ve had the thought myself that I can’t tell people what actually works in marketing because “people want” easier answers.

But then I ask myself the same question I asked those other entrepreneurs:

“Okay, yes, most people may want that. But what do your very best customers want?”

We have this crazy tendency of looking at a group of people who don’t like us, who don’t want what we’re best at, and we think: “How could I convince them?”

Meanwhile, there’s another group—which, yes, may be smaller and harder to find—who loves everything we do, and pays for it, but we don’t spend near enough time asking: “How could I find more of these people?”

“The desire to fit in and the paralyzing fear of being disliked undermine our ability to pursue the lives we want to create.”

— Michael Gervais, “How to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think of You”

We look at the huge, successful brands and think we have to imitate what they’re doing now, when instead we should ask ourselves what they did to get there.

And you know what? It’s almost never, “They focused on the hardest customers and tried to grow as fast as they could.”

No, it’s almost always, “They focused on what they did best, for the people who like that the most, and grew from there.”

“There seems to be an almost religious belief that the wider net catches more customers, in spite of many examples to the contrary.”

— Trout & Ries, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Apple didn’t get to be the biggest by making products for everyone. They got where they are today by making products for almost no one, and then those people got everyone else on board.

Nike didn’t get where they are today by making shoes for everyone. They got where they are today by making shoes for runners—a new and growing hobby at the time—and those people told everyone else.

Your business won’t get to where you want it to go by appealing to everyone.

It’ll get there by focusing on the people who want it most, and those people will tell everyone else.

“You can't be a successful B2B organization in today's world (no matter what the date is today, whenever you're reading this) without going after the right customers, creating experiences designed just for them, and turning them into advocates for your product or service.”

— Vajre & Spett — ABM is B2B

But if you can’t get those people—if you refuse to focus on the customers who want what you have—and instead focus on the people who want something else, you won’t get anywhere but frustrated.

Because here’s the thing: People don’t actually know what they want until you show them.

Until you demonstrate to them what makes you different, special, unique, and ideal.

And that starts by focusing on the people most likely to care. Most likely to want.

Most like your current best customers.

“Skilled marketers don't try to get everyone's attention—they focus on getting the attention of the right people at the right time.”

— Josh Kaufman, The Personal MBA

Stop looking across the fence at other people’s customers—they’re not interested in you.

Start looking more closely, more intently, more curiously at your own customers, and ask:

What do these people want?

And how can I get even better at that, so they tell everyone else?

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