Saucy, Bold, Creative Marketing
Getting your first paying customer is probably one of the most significant milestones you can achieve as a business owner. But, how to get them, can either be a long, congested road --- or it can be a matter of creating the opportunity instead of waiting for an opportunity to come to you.
Here’s the good news -- You don’t need to wait for an invitation.
If there is one thing that will help you earn your first customer it’s to put service first and then have the courage to create the opportunity.
Many business owners get the paperwork done, file the appropriate forms, order business cards and set up web sites, then religiously attend conferences and coffee chats and small business seminars, but have yet to get the ultimate prize – a real, live, breathing, paying customer.
But, here’s the truth, going down the same path as everyone else will typically lead you to be forgotten.
Here’s a short story about how I got my first customer, what I call the saucy, bold, creative way:
I observed and identified the program that I thought I could be of service (making the sauce). I tracked down which Potential Customer would most likely attend a new program meeting. Calling one of my colleagues, I inquired as to who was attending and if I could attend. They said, “I guess so…” That was good enough for me! (getting bold). I now had: 1) a confirmed meeting with the Potential Customer in attendance, and, 2) confirmation to attend. The next step was to find out when the Potential Customer was going. I called his office and asked a staff members when the Potential Customer was going to the meeting. Bingo!, 3) the Potential Customer’s travel plan! Given this juicy information, I then made my train reservation for the same train and the same time as you guessed it…the Potential Customer.
Back at my home office – I worked up a short concept briefing (being creative).
Arriving at the train station, briefcase and briefing ready, I spotted my potential customer, walked up and said a casual “hello”. We chatted in line for a few seconds, there was not much to go on, but at least there was a connection. A face-to-face connection -- love those!
Listening, observing and taking notes at the meeting, I considered how I might be able to serve him. I noticed my Potential Customer had concerns about how to get the program started, and he felt an enormous responsibility to the higher ups. (The sauce was starting to simmer).
On the return ride, I arrived at the station early. I saw my Potential Customer grabbing a coffee for the ride home. As I made my way toward him, he gave me a hearty “hello!” this time, and then, sipping his coffee, he opened up about his concerns and how he could manage a program this big, this complex, with very little start-up money. As we boarded, I made sure to stick close and I asked if I could grab a seat next to him.
As the train pulled forward, a new customer was about to be born. I waited for the right break in the conversation, and then confidently (getting bolder) said, “I put a few thoughts together on how to get this thing off the ground. Would you be interested in taking a look?” He was more than interested! He looked over the briefing, and we talked about the infrastructure, the technical issues and the people he needed to get involved. I gave him input in a logical, concise, and non-threatening way. When I finished sharing my already prepared charts (creative), he said, “Who do you work for?” When I told him I just started a new company, he pulled out his phone and called his contract officer on the spot, “I need you to get this person on contract – Now!”
I started working for this customer 22 days after inviting myself to a meeting and 16 days after getting on the train.
That one contract became a source of tremendous personal pride and success, all born out of service and creativity.
That one contract went on to become a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract; it eventually turned into a contract value of over $90 million dollars.
If I had waited for an invitation or had not been on that train, what do you think the odds are that I would have landed that deal?
Keep this reminder next to you when you feel like you are going down the same tired, old road: Put service first, then get saucy, bold, and creative!
Ask yourself these 4 simple questions to get the juices flowing:
What is the problem you are most excited to solve?
How do you see yourself making a difference?
What do you risk by not going for it?
What one thing can you do today to get saucy, bold and creative?