Don’t Invent Demand, Step in Front of It.
There’s three main reasons for this:
- Pioneers get killed – I already explained this in this article
- You don’t matter – only customers do, their money, and how they decide to spend it
- It’s faster and more profitable to step in front of pre-existing demand
The latter two we’ll discuss here in this article.
Sorry Sweet-Cheeks, YOU DON’T MATTER!
Businesses that ask for my help… one of the very first things I’m evaluating is: where does demand already exist for what they do? or are they trying to “invent demand”?
More than once I’ve had a stern conversation with a business owner, it usually goes like this:
“I know this is what YOU want to do. But that doesn’t matter. This will never fly until we repackage it into what the market wants… in their language, addressing their needs, in a way they want to consume it.”
Humans just won’t buy unless there is relevant value, i.e. something “in it” for them.
And the most frustrating thing of all: sometimes what customers think they need, and what they really need is two different things! We could have the fountain of youth for sale for 3 easy payments of $19.99, but if all they want is a beer, we’ll go bankrupt.
Hard-core Creatives are Doomed to Fail in Business
I call these people the “Egotistical Innovators”. More on them in this article.
You know the type – excited about being a “disruptive force” in a market “space”… instead of actually building a business. It’s mostly childish ego, trying to feel important. Being a poser.
Or how about another character – stubborn people that insist on doing things their way, completely ignoring the glaring feedback the marketplace around them is giving them.
Or here’s another winner… the creative-type that is so wrapped up in “just doing what I love”. Naive. Doomed to fail.
…in any case, these self-centered creative-types completely ignore who actually buys their stuff.
Drum roll, please…
I am a drummer myself. Played around 200 shows in my day. Spent some years touring and even played a showcase at the Western Canadian Music Awards.
I once heard a fellow drummer say, quite passionately: “All this music business shit, all I want to do is just do what I love, get paid for it, and all that other crap can just stay out of my way!!!”
…it’s all I could do to bite my tongue. Aside from his completely erroneous view of money, and utterly distorted view of the business fundamentals, he’s a world-class drummer whom I respect very much. I said nothing – it wouldn’t have been productive.
The bottom line: other people buy your stuff. Stay focused on them and what they want, irrespective of what you want.
And – face the music – 99.99% of all products and services brought to market are just improvements on other stuff. Nearly nothing is new. The iPhone is a better cell phone. An iPod is a better mp3 player. Facebook is a better MySpace. Google is a better Yahoo. We could go on and on and on….
Creating something completely new is rarely a good idea.
So now that our focus is placed properly on Pre-Existing Demand (instead of ourselves), let’s go another step further and talk about…
Standing in the Path (of pre-existing demand)
I’m going to assume you’re got a relevant, valuable product that the market wants.
And I’m going to assume you’re good at delivering it.
Believe it or not, there’s TONS of people out there looking for what you sell. They require no convincing, and they just might buy 3… for their sister and mom too.
In fact, the only decision left for them is WHO is going to get their money. They are literally searching around – online, talking to friends, etc – to figure out if it’s you or your competitor that will get their money… plain and simple.
THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WE MUST RABIDLY SEEK OUT.
They require little-to-no convincing, and they are ready to buy, like, YESTERDAY.
The “Convincing” Business is Expensive
When do we hate salespeople?
When they are trying to sell us something that we don’t want or need. There is no relevant value for us, so we seek the nearest escape hatch from the sales call.
When do we whip out our credit card and buy in a heartbeat?
When we see something that “clicks”… we know we want it, it fits all of our buying criteria, and someone has come along and dropped it in our lap.
But it’s no mistake, no coincidence that it “fell in our lap”…
You found the perfect wedding dress in the wedding store.
You found an impeccable, autographed Metallica guitar was at the rock memorabilia auction.
You found an unbelievable deal on tailored suits when you typed “cheap tailored suit” in Google.
In each case, the vendor simply stood in the path of people (you) that were already actively looking specifically for the vendor’s wares.
From my own life: I was out in the Rocky Mountains at a friend’s cabin. Actually you can’t call these cabins. They are luxury second-homes, fully serviced, in a stunning subdivision. That happen to be circled with towering mountains on 3 sides.
I was in awe.
We were invited to another family’s cabin. Had no idea who they were, but we graciously accepted the offer.
Upon meeting the family, one of the sons – around 40 years old – asked me what I do. I said, “Oh, marketing stuff. Usually online, including stuff like Google Adwords.”
He immediately perked up. “Oh great! I own two businesses. I’ve been looking to get into that kind of marketing. Can you give me a call Monday to setup a meeting time? Here’s my card.”
I laugh at the next part…
“Oh, by the way, my name is Rob. What’s yours?”
He didn’t even know my name, and he was asking me to sell him!
THAT is the power of pre-existing demand.
Now, I didn’t go to the cabin to get business. So it’s not exactly a case of “Standing in the path”. But you get the idea of how fast things can happen when you are speaking to someone who already knows they want what you got for sale.
And when you place yourself in the path of a non-stop stream of those kinds of people (at a trade show, on Google Adwords, etc), it’s a beautiful thing. Results can happen quickly!
Moral of the Story
The sooner that you get your ego out of the way…
The sooner that you accept the reality that your business is about your customer’s needs and wants, not yours…
The sooner that you seek demand that already exists.
The sooner that you plunk youself in the path of people that already know they want your product…
You get to make money.
Hope that helps,
P.S. There is tons of room in business for creativity, art, and innovation. Just not “Egotistical Innovators.” There’s a big difference. And there’s a (good) polar opposite to the “Egotistical Innovator”… it’s called being a humble student. Choose the latter and reap the rewards