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Session 02: The Art and the Importance of the Customer Conversation with Mark Asquith

Expert Guest: Mark Asquith (Excellence-Expected.com)

Key Learning Point: In this session, you will learn what the market really needs and wants as well as how to define your ideal customer.

Free Resource: Avatar Creation Template

For those looking at a successful business from the outside, it is easy to think that the idea is all important, and if people can generate great ideas, they will succeed. If only it were that simple! As entrepreneurs, we know that we need to dig deeper, to make sure that we are spending time on the ideas with the best chance of success in the market we want to enter. How can we best test our ideas before creating our product or service?

It all comes down to having meaningful customer conversations.

Why should we have customer conversations?

Customer conversations can let us know if there is an audience out there for what we want to provide. They can tell us if the problem we aim to solve matters enough for people to want to pay for, not only a solution but our solution. And they can also give us valuable feedback that can be used to change and tweak our product to increase its impact.

These conversations are massive opportunities to learn about your idea, your potential customers and what people want. Therefore, they need to be approached with an open mind and we need to ask the right questions in the right way.

Understandably, we often become somewhat obsessed with our ideas, they can become our ‘baby’. This can subconsciously make us biased, defensive and close-minded when looking for feedback. In turn, this will affect how we conduct customer conversations. We might ask closed questions such as, “Do you like my idea?” (Everyone will say, “Yes!”), or attach more importance to positive feedback while ignoring the negative.

Entering in a customer conversation with a learning mind-set as opposed to a pitching mind-set will allow you to gather so much more valuable information about your customers, their desires and marketplace. Remember, we need to solve one problem extremely well and the best way to make your idea the best it can be is to learn from potential customers.

Perhaps you will find out that the problem your idea solves doesn't matter enough for it to be a viable product. You may find that it does, but people prefer a different solution to yours. You may find that the most receptive audience isn’t the one you originally targeted. Whatever you find out will be extremely valuable in the process of moving your idea forward.

Who are we having customer conversations with?

Crafting an audience avatar or customer persona is vital before getting into customer conversations. This ideal representation of the perfect customer can help us align ourselves with our customers and find out what motivates them. Who am I speaking to? Who will benefit from this product?

We can keep this person in mind when we make any decisions related to the product. Speaking with all kinds of people at random will not yield the effective research and valuable insights that speaking with a representation of your carefully crafted avatar will.

The avatar is a deeper representation than simply a person’s gender, age or background. ‘Male, 18-35, Single’ is a demographic and not an effective avatar. We need to be empathetic and learn about behaviours, ethics, values, traits, difficulties and more. We need to learn what makes our potential customer tick. This will inform everything from marketing and design to brand identity and customer service.

Nailing down an avatar is so crucial in the early days and is covered in more detail in the free Avatar Resource Template resource.

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How should we conduct customer conversations?

We need to be careful when having customer conversations to avoid pitching when we should be listening. At this stage, we need to listen as much as possible to customer experiences, problems and current solutions. There is so much valuable information to gain from this.

One of the most powerful open phrases you can use is about how people solve their problems: “Tell me how you…”

  • “Tell me how you work with your website.”
  • “Tell me how you currently manage your online advertising.”
  • “Tell me how you target your marketing.”

This simple phrase allows your customer to open up and teach you a great deal about themselves, their needs and their processes. You will be able to learn so much about the challenges that your avatar, your perfect customer, faces and how your product or service could provide the solution.

Enter into these customer conversations with a learning mind-set and you will be surprised at the insights that you will gain.

Links:

Quotes:

  • “You can’t launch your first product until you've had those customer conversations.”
  • “The single most important phrase you have in your arsenal is: Tell me how you…”
  • “You can never ever have a more valuable piece of learning than someone telling you how they do something currently.”

Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!

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About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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