How Well Do You Know Your Market?

sign-upHow well do you know your market, demographic or audience? It’s all the same after all, simply a question of semantics. Who is buying or benefiting in some way from what you are selling? When I first began presenting workshops to groups, it was with a 90-minute program in an Adult Education/Community setting. The cost was low, but most important was to gain experience and refine the offering for future groups elsewhere. Feedback was excellent and the courses filled, some even with a waiting list. Almost every participant wanted more sessions and strongly suggested that I create a 2-part program. When I pitched it to the director, she was hesitant and expressed some doubts based on her experience with adults but ultimately agreed to try it. Much to my surprise, not only did registration dip dramatically, but those people who did sign-up were not as enthusiastic or participatory as my “One-and-Done” groups had been. I was disappointed and tried to get more feedback. Was it me? The quality of the offering? Cost? Or was it just the profile of the adult-ed student which is unique? While there was no definitive answer, I know that I did not do enough research to understand the history of multi-part workshops or the commitment of the adult learner in a casual setting. Expectations for learning a foreign language or a musical instrument are quite different than for personal development, goal setting and the accompanying homework. I had been flattered by the positive feedback and went full ahead without understanding that getting bodies in the seats requires more than setting the date and creating the content.

A recent newsletter I received underscores the same experience according to Amy Swift Crosby, founder of SMARTY. She understands her audience. When people called for a presentation on “How to Build Your Back Room” which is about accounting, staffing, etc. she knew that it was not sexy enough to get customers out of the house to attend a program like this. However, a webinar was the perfect idea and enrollment exceeded her goal.

She continues at length to describe the local joint/diner that has a great greasy spoon following and is now offering gluten free muffins. If the thinking behind this is that it will draw in a whole other group of customers, it’s probably off target. It’s more likely that those diners are also looking at a different overall dining experience, replete with high concept coffee, cultivated sea salt and more.

So, as entrepreneurs we may have many, many exciting new ideas and vetting them isn’t always the most fun part of the process. Imagining yourself in the customer’s place and thinking like the client is the shift that needs to happen before you place an order for 1000 x or sign a 5-year lease on that very cool storefront.

©MWeisner 2017

Stuck in First Gear

task4-300x225Watching is different than doing. Assuming you can execute from the perspective of observer is merely conjecture. Jumping out of an airplane without a parachute as you mimic the movements of a bird is foolhardy. What about driving a standard shift car because you’ve been a passenger in one, and by the way, it’s not a rental?

My boyfriend, later to become my husband, drove a Volkswagen bug everywhere. He and “Betsy” had a long relationship and I was relatively new to the scene. The car did have many miles on it and I had certainly been along for many rides, so I was somewhat familiar with its operation. However, I had only driven automatics until the day I had to borrow “Betsy” and needed to get some road time in quickly prior to going solo. He was more than patient as we bucked around a large parking lot and then onto a busy street, stalled out several times and continued for a few more blocks. He assured me I would get the hang of it and his confidence was contagious. He must have inspired me because I was not nervous as I set out the following morning in rush hour traffic enroute to an important job interview. Forgetting about fear or comfort zones, I was launched.

I would love to report that things went smoothly and that I never broke a sweat, but it would not be an accurate account at all. In fact, the car stalled more than once and I was indeed stuck in first gear too…more than once. Luckily there were no hills to manage and I quickly blocked out the various horns and yells from other drivers. In fact, I drove downtown and back without stripping the gears or damaging the car in any noticeable way.

For me, most important was the success of learning something quickly; prompted by necessity, as well as having the unquestionable support of my instructor in the process. Yes, he had been a passenger in my car many times and knew that I could be trusted to use good judgment. But it was also a leap of faith to allow me to practice on his beloved “Betsy”. He assumed I could do it and this gave me the additional confidence to get behind the wheel and go. What an accomplishment and what a terrific feeling afterward! Rather than being shaken by the early morning scenario, I was more self-assured at that job interview than I ever expected I would be. The energetic spill-over from managing my transportation successfully was palpable, empowering enough to decline the job offer and continue to look for a better fit.

• When have you done the thing you never thought you could do?
• Who supported your actions?
• What were the short and/or long term effects?
• How did you change as a result?

©2014 Maureen Weisner