Ever since launching an elaborate training program to crickets years ago (I still cringe when I see that name pop up), I’ve been preaching the value of research before making significant investments.
When you’re a soloist, it’s a little toooooooo tempting to assume what your audience wants from you instead of, well, just asking them.
Asking cuts through a whole lot of questions and worries and just might even line up your first clients and buyers. (If you’re still not convinced, read about what my last research calls told me here.)
That’s why you want to design yourself a listening tour—a focused set of interviews with people in your ideal target audience—whenever you are considering:
A major pivot—in your audience, your services, the revolution you want to lead.
A non-trivial investment—building courses, starting a membership, developing a new “thing”.
And let me be clear: we aren’t talking about sending out a few emails or LinkedIn messages.
You are going to get with them via zoom/the phone and actually hear their voice—with all its nuance—telling you how they think and what they want.
There is simply no substitute for a live exchange—and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get your people to talk with you once they understand it’s not a sales pitch.
Start by asking for a no more than 30-minute call—and keep to your promise. (Be sure you offer them a digital calendar option to avoid engaging in an irritating back-and-forth).
Get hyper-clear on your questions in advance—here are some suggestions you can play with to build a tight list:
Have them give you a quick overview of their business (but of course you’ve looked at their website/read their marketing materials ahead of time so you’re reasonably sure they’re in your sweet-spot).
- What are the most important things you’re focused on right now?
- Is there anything you’re struggling with? (Resist the temptation to insert your solution—this is about discovering their priorities.)
- Burrow into their struggles—“Can you tell me more about that?”
- Find out what they’ve already done to solve their challenges—what worked and what didn’t?
- Where do they usually go to find answers? (This is how you can learn who else they turn to in the space you’re considering claiming.)
- Hand them a magic wand: If you could magically solve this, what would that look like? How would your life be different?
Once you have enough information to formulate a possible solution, you can test your pricing. An easy way to do that is: “If I created a (fill-in-the-blank) for (insert price tag) how likely would you be to say ‘sign me up now’?”
By the time you finish about 5 to 10 of these (assuming you targeted the right people), you should have a clear go or no-go signal.
Note: If you’re not getting a clear go signal, it likely means you’ve picked a problem that isn’t big enough for your audience to care about—or that you’ve selected the wrong angle. Regroup to consider what you’ve learned means for your business.
When you can feel the emotion and energy behind solving their challenge (and you’re hearing the same kind of responses); when your ideal people are spending money and time trying to fix it and they respond happily to your test pricing, chances are high you’ve got a winner on your hands.
It also means it’s time to stop your listening tour—instead, pivot to designing and building your “thing” while using your new-found clarity to start engaging your future clients and buyers.