Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Many readers are aware that I recently launched a new business and that I was having trouble enticing customers to the service. It just so happens the business is a new bird bath outside my study window and the customers are birds (the flying ones).

Escrow.com

Although there’s been a lot of funny anecdotes there has also been a serious thread of discussion about how to attract customers to a new business. Every new business has a vision of their ideal customer and a “full proof” plan on how to attract them. The problem is that years of experience has proved plans look great on paper and reality is something else entirely.

For example, I had a great vision of birds flocking to my wonderful bird bath and I would enjoy them singing away outside as they happily splashed away. My reality was a bird bath that was entirely ignored.

The one thing that a start-up has to their advantage is their ability to quickly change direction. If the plan isn’t working, then change the plan. Don’t burn more cash…..move!

In my case, I tried to entice the birds with bread. They loved the bread on the ground and completely ignored the bird bath. I then moved the bird bath. That still didn’t work so I moved it again. I constantly tweaked my “business” with the end goal of attracting my customers (ie. birds).

If a start-up is to succeed, then it must get customer feedback as fast as possible. There is no point in building the ultimate product that no one wants. For those people who tell you they love what you’re doing then ask them the same question with a charge attached.

I’ve seen so many businesses give their products/services away in the name of “market share” only to find that once they try to charge no one wants what they’ve built. A sale isn’t a sale unless ultimately there is a financial transaction attached. Anyone can give a service away…..it’s much harder to sell it.

So where am I at? As can be seen by the pictures I now have multiple different species of birds enjoying the bread and the bird bath. This is important as the different species indicate that I’ve now tapped into not just a single market but multiple different market segments.

Magpie

A start-up needs to quickly classify what customer segments are buying their products/services. This means really paying attention to what customers are buying versus the time wasters and then focusing your efforts to exploit the revenue opportunities.

I should say that my feathered customers are also paying customers. The other day, Roselyn and I woke up to a magpie warbling beautifully outside our bedroom window. That was payment enough for us both. For me, it was wonderful to know that I’d managed to successfully launch another little start-up business.

Battleframe

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Cutting the Grass

Cutting the Grass

A few minutes ago the doorbell sounded and upon answering it I discovered our friendly lawn mower man smiling back at me. In my opinion his dark sun tanned wrinkled face had seen altogether too much of the Australian sun but that was his job and he loved it.

During the few minutes of idle banter I remembered that we had a now thoroughly dead Christmas tree down the side of the house that needed removal. I asked him if he’d take it away and he quickly replied, “Not a problem but there is a disposal fee of $10.”

I know that the local council will charge something but it’s nothing like $10. Despite this I quickly replied, “Not a problem!”

So why did I do it? The value in not having my wife Roselyn ask me to remove the tree was worth more to me than the $10. For that matter he probably could have asked for $15-$20 and I would have agreed! My problem would have been at that price Roselyn would have made me do the tip run the following year with the pine needles from the dead tree filling up my sports car. She pays the bills in our family and there’s nothing getting past her.

From our mower man’s perspective he normally gets $35 per cut so he’s just dramatically increased his take from his client. It works out really well for him, for me and that’s what business is all about.

I speak to a lot of people about business and it surprises me that time and time again many of them think that it’s all about trying to get the most out of the other guy. That’s a transactional mentality. At some stage the person on the other end of the transaction will get smarter, feel ripped off and go elsewhere.

I personally think that it’s better to have a more long-term view with clients. This means that every transaction needs to be fair and work for all parties. I don’t just want a deal now I want to deal multiple deals into the future. With the result that we’ve had clients for seven plus years with ParkLogic and whenever there is an issue we have a relationship with them that’s stood the test of time…..I think that’s a much better way to go.

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