Folks this week’s post is at Breaking Ferriss slash Hell Yea. (Just picture Kid Rock or Andrew WK windmilling a guitar, wearing an American flag bandana. It helps.)
Anyway, unofficial title – Mid Month Post: Masterminds Continued, Plus Customer Development Goodies. Not as good a title. Right?
Thought a blog post was in order, because I’m starting to describe my business and “adventures” to random strangers and in emails to my parents again, so it’s probably time to open the valves and let some steam off.
“What’s new this week Nate?”
Customer Development, that’s what. CD is the most sexy thing with the least sexy name ever. It sounds like the job your uncle Bart has in Sioux City, in his fake-wood-paneled office with a stuffed 50-inch steelhead he didn’t catch mounted on the wall. It’s actually the most essential part of business. Strip away everything else, and that’s what’s left – finding a need, and filling it.
Last summer if you’d asked me I would have said Dane Maxwell invented CD. Nope. He just productized it (“productized” – a buzzword I promise the demise of immediately after this post). But crediting Dane Maxwell with inventing CD – even in the E-business entrepreneur space – is like crediting Mike Bloomberg for the East River.
Alright already what’s customer development?!
It’s just talking to people about what problems they have. That’s it.
In my niche that consisted of calling customers who bought my video series and peppering them with questions, all with the goal of identifying the Venn diagram of a problem painful enough to pay a premium price to resolve, and one that I have the means to resolve.
Basically I, who have been selling my product for $20, and who vowed to think bigger than minutely reoptimizing my pay-per-click campaign, was wondering, “what’s a problem you’d pay me $300 to resolve, and be happy to do it?” Or, put another way, “what would the $300 incarnation of my product look like?”
So far I’ve talked to two people, both super cool, both with an infectious enthusiasm for the drums, and learned some things I expected to hear, and other things that took me by surprise. For instance –
Was production value a deterrent to buy, or an inconvenience once you bought? No.
How did you discover me? Googling the other Nate Smith [for readers of this blog not familiar with jazz I have the same name as a much more famous drummer] and found your videos on Youtube instead.
I owe Nate a round.
When we got into “pain points” there were two main things – hassle resolution and personalized feedback. The first should come as no surprise. Just look at the rise of “done for you” services for things we really don’t want to do ourselves. Travel booking. Financial planning. So the value-add is instead of someone taking my videos and specing out (ok I swear that’s a word) their own practice regimen for the next six months, it turns out a few hundred for someone to just do that for them is a pittance.
The second, the personalized feedback, is also not surprising. What do you get in a private lesson that you can’t from a video? A two-way conversation with an expert, in which that person looks at you and makes personalized recommendations. Luckily, that’s pretty easy to scale, if users submit periodic videos to me, which I can batch into an afternoon. Here, as before, the fact that I love talking about the drums with other motivated drummers doesn’t hurt.
Just as an aside, what this is turning into is changing my mind about teaching, to a degree. Between the drummers whom I’ve chatted with to get their feedback and those who have sought me out for lessons, this is not “drum teaching” as I did it before. For starters, this is motivated, advanced students good enough to push me to get better. What’s more, this time I’m doing it on my own terms, not, to reprise a phrase I had the poor judgment to put in an email, “slaving away in-person teaching unmotivated elementary students in a storefront music school between a happy-ending massage parlor and a Beard Papa.”
So this is the fun part. The next stage will be the execution, and as any entrepreneur will tell you, “good ideas don’t matter. I’d rather a bad idea with good execution than the reverse.” Execution will look like 1) actually designing this “uber course”, with continued help from customers, and 2) pre-selling it to them. Don’t know how much I mentioned about conversion funnels in the last post, but I’m also planning to continue to use PPC in a small way to send people to the “event horizon” of my conversion funnel (a buzzword I don’t hate, not least because of the visuals it conjures up). A funnel which will consist of an email opt-in, then a series of auto-responders sending subscribers 3-4 premium videos in their own “mini-course”, followed by a soft sales pitch (“if you like these and want to go deeper, hook up the course”).
Hmmm okay quickly what else is new? Continuing to enjoy the paid entrepreneurs’ social network. Chatted with another newbie this morning in what I thought was a helpful exchange. The endgame is still to get into a “mastermind” (AA for entrepreneurs), or which the process is slower. With the mastermind piece, the pricetag is waaaay worth it. Without it…more of a tossup.
Also doing some hustling for copywriting gigs, offering – as I have in the past – to do work for free for some of the people I admire in the podcast sphere. Definitely no endgame there. Kind of the “go big or go home” mentality – either one of these people I really respect and look up to likes my copy and something comes of it – or doesn’t – or they don’t.
Last thing – elaboration on “go big or go home”. I’m really bullish on this lately, and one insight was this guy who charged me $15 an hour to rent his practice studio. (Need 4g signal for skype lessons….long story.) He has to meet me in person to let me in. After the second or third rude text asking “are you in or not” while I waited for my student to respond, I decided how I would be different from this fellow. Instead of doing things I don’t want to do and charging extremely low rates for it, I want to do primarily things I do want to do (including things that require struggle and discipline in the short term), give most everything away for free, and go for the big paydays.
Like I’m Gordon Gecko or something. Sheesh. Let’s clear a grand profit in an entire month before I start talking grandiosely. But gotta enjoy the small successes along the way.