Learning To Speak Like Your Customers

This is Lesson 1 of my crowdfunding course: "5 Ways To Find Your First 100 Kickstarter Backers."

In the past 7 years, I've done marketing projects for my own side businesses, as well as for other companies too.

Here's how much money each made:

GuitarWerks: $100/year (Own blog.pure Adsense income)
ProfitLance: $300 (Affiliate marketing.1 year)
The Apple Gear Store: $60 (1+ year)
FlowerCouture app: $0 (2 years)
Duet: $106,830 (2 months)

Did you notice the big jump?

It was only before the last project (Duet) that I learnt a very important lesson.

There was a lesson that I had repeatedly missed over and over again, and did not learn it until I was tasked with launching a new company product.

It was called the PROTAG Duet, a smart bluetooth tag that watches out for your phone.

Learning and applying this simple lesson transformed the way I did marketing, and it translated into profits beyond my wildest imagination.

What was the lesson?

First...A story

My father once shared an interesting scene that he witnessed at an airport in China.

Standing at the arrival gate near him were two businessmen: a Swedish man, and a Middle Eastern looking man.

It appeared that the Swedish guy was meeting the Middle Eastern man for the very first time for business, but wasn't sure if he was the right person.

So the Swede asked, in very broken english, if the Middle Eastern guy's name was so and so.

To which, the MidEast guy replied in a totally unintelligible form of english.

It wasn’t long before you could tell that both men were struggling to understand what each other was saying.

Finally, in frustration, the Middle Eastern guy replied the other guy in fluent Mandarin.

And surprise!

The Swede also replied in equally fluent Mandarin.

The happy ending of the story was that he had found the right business partner after all.

The lesson here was that until both men related in a language they both knew (Mandarin), they could not really conduct business properly.

In the same vein, you have to first get into the shoes of your customer, and see the needs and problems from their eyes, before you can relate to them.

Here’s an actual startup success story that illustrates the point:

It was learning to relate in the customer’s language that enabled Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, to go from 5000 to 75000 people literally overnight on Dropbox’s beta waiting list.

Drew believed that file synchronisation was a problem most people didn’t know they had.

But back then in 2007, the concept of file synchronisation was a totally foreign concept to most people.

Even the investors he pitched to could not understand it.

Furthermore, it was impossible to demonstrate such a sophisticated, working software in prototype form.

*So what was he to do? *

The answer: Drew made a simple 3-min video to demonstrate the technology, targeted at a group of technology early adopters on Digg.

But it wasn’t just any other demonstration video: Drew made references to Tay Zonday and ‘Chocolate Rain’ and allusions to Office Space and XKCD.

He also moved files in the video, that were full of in- jokes and humorous references that only the Digg audience could understand.

It was a deliberately made video, custom-tailored to the Digg audience, and it sparked off a chain reaction.

In other words, Drew Houston had learnt to speak his customer’s language.

Takeaway lesson: Speak your customer’s language

In customer service lingo, its called Know Your Customer (KYC).

In the Lean startup methodology, we call it customer development.

Whatever the terminology, the idea is essentially the same.

To build startup products/services that sell, you must first learn to speak the language of your customer.

You do all this so that instead of having to beg people to give your startup idea a chance, you get a hungry audience that is willing to throw cash at you (i.e Shut Up And Just Take My Cash) for your solution to their needs.

As you work your way through the 5 ways to get backers for your Crowdfunding idea, I’ll advise you to have this mindset in mind.

It is by speaking your customer’s language, that you’ll eventually come to learn the real pain and problems that they face.

And that is the pot of gold that you are aiming at.

So which language will you speak today? Your customers, or your own?


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I don’t want your crowdfunding education to end here, so I’m putting together a guidebook, and a free three-week course called “5 Ways To Find Users For Testing Your Crowdfunding Idea”. There will be some overlap between that content and this post, but the email course will walk you through some ways you can find users to test your idea.” Also check out the upcoming launch of my latest book: "The Crowdfunded Kit"

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