If you’re a business owner, the chances are you know everything about your business, and a great deal about the industry you operate in.
But is it possible that you know too much?
Sometimes ignorance is a good thing. Not willful, head-in-the-sand, fingers-in-the-ears, not-wanting-to-face-reality ignorance, but rather not being overly influenced – even biased – in your thinking and decision making because of how much you are 100 per cent convinced about.
Not to mention how much you then ignore or dismiss because it doesn’t easily fit with the stuff you know so well.
When you’re completely immersed in something, such as your business, you tend to adopt ways of thinking and even speaking that clearly mark you as an insider, a member of a club.
While that might be appropriate when dealing with other members of the club, it’s a foreign language to the average person.
For most businesses, those are your customers – average people who don’t speak your industry language.
That’s why sometimes ignorance is a good thing: you have nothing to ‘unlearn’ in order to put yourself in your (potential) customers’ shoes.
You don’t have the ego associated with being an insider, which is only a short step away from feeling superior to all of those who aren’t part of the inner sanctum.
Importantly, you’re not emotionally attached to the industry speak.
Business owners should be able to detach themselves from the business and create products and services that are emotionally engaging to customers.
This is what I refer to as making the customer the hero.
In many cases this means not thinking like the business owner, or even an employee, but thinking as if you are not.
By putting yourself in the place of the customer you can better envisage the practical application of your products or services; that is what they are needed for and how they are actually used.
Then you can apply your intimate knowledge of your business to deliver exactly that.
However keep in mind that because you are an expert, with all that vital knowledge, your job isn’t to deliver what the client thinks they want, but rather to understand that and use your expertise to really nail what the customer needs. Ideally, along the way, you also make them want what they need.
There should never be a complaint from a business owner that the client “doesn’t get it”. You’re the one who has to “get it”, otherwise you’re only in business for yourself – and that’s a pretty small customer base.
In my branding workshop I ask business owners “Why are you in business and what does it mean to the market?”.
Then I cross out passion and product, because those two things only account for one per cent of the success formula.
Once you take those out of the equation, you have to really think about what your craft means to customers and even the broader community.
What is the reason your business exists?
If it’s as an outlet for your passion, then you’re probably an artist (not that there’s anything wrong with that)!
But if it’s to sell something, it’s crucial that you understand the buyer. Or at least you’re able to see things from the buyer’s perspective.
Of course there’s zero chance that you’re ignorant about your business, but you can learn to unlearn.
You can teach yourself to ignore the voices in your head saying “this is how it’s done”, “this is the way we have always done things” and “this is how everyone in this industry does it” and focus on how non-industry-insiders think and feel, and what they want and need.
By unlearning you can think more like those people who don’t know all the ins and outs: customers.
So let’s call it ‘selective ignorance’.
Don’t think like the business owner or an industry insider when deciding what you should be making or selling, and how you should be selling it.
Then think like a business owner and industry insider when it comes to doing that really, really well.
So, for your take away, try and explain your products and services to a 10-year-old and work so hard to get them to understand “what in this for them”. I can guarantee your selling process will improve dramatically.
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