What do you assume? I mean, absolutely and positively assume, and that you base business decisions on?
Maybe you assume some or all of these things:
- You know every single thing that is important to your customers and clients
- You know what motivates people to buy your offerings
- You know what people think about your whole company from one or a few purchases
- That an amazing experience in the first three months turns a buyer into a customer for life
- That there is such a thing as a customer for life
- That you can lose money on some sales that you can make up from other sales
- That you can predict buyers’ behaviors with a customer satisfaction survey
Every day I learn that companies assume many or all of these things. For example, they assume that because a buyer purchased one product or service that the buyer both 1) will buy again and 2) knows everything else you offer (and will buy those things too.)
These assumptions turn into actions. They affect every marketing discussion, every customer service decision, and every plan for product development. They influence budgets, projections, and financial decision-making.
What if There is More to Know?
We in the practice of business ownership are faced with limits. We have a huge capacity for imagination, but that is constrained by available resources and the realities of the marketplace. There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week. So, we fall back on what we assume to maximize our outcomes. Yet, if what we assume isn’t the whole picture, we are missing opportunities for growth and increasing the value of the company.
Assumptions–what we know is true or is certain to happen without proof—help us deal with the constraints. They winnow the options and focus the mind. Unfortunately, they also put big-time brakes on growth. They keep companies within their narrow lane and cause them to repeat everything they’re doing because that conserves energy and resources. It’s also comfortable and I beg you not to dismiss comfort as a driver of sticking to what you know.
Challenge Your Assumptions: Case Study
It’s been my practice since my first foray into business ownership with my Café Aurora to tackle assumptions one at a time. The quickest way to default to what you know is to try to do too much at once. Pick one assumption and challenge it.
Let’s step through challenging your assumption that you know everything that is important to your buyers. How could you challenge that assumption and increase revenue and profit?
1) What information or data do you keep for each buyer? Do you record qualitative information in your CRM, or do you store it in your memory bank? This is more valuable than the quantitative information such as details on all purchases. I am looking directly at all the professional services providers here, not just consumer products or services.
Lawyers, CPAs, consultants, designers of all types, commercial real estate professionals, financial advisers, coaches, authors, trainers and speakers: what do you know about your buyers beyond what they purchased from you? How can you deepen your understanding of what they value?
2) How do you incorporate this depth of knowledge into your marketing? Once you have a deeper understanding of your buyers, how will you use that in your marketing? One-size-fits-all marketing is a jarring turn-off to people who have opened themselves to your efforts to know them better.
Customization takes more time and effort and is the critical factor that turns a buyer into someone who never even thinks about another provider. (And believe me, other providers will try to take your buyers away.)
3) Do you study the full complement of your marketing activities and ensure that every single one is in line with your efforts to cultivate and nurture your buyers? “Marketing” includes many discrete activities and efforts. We study all of them and create a comprehensive list based on your deeper knowledge and understanding of your clients and customers.
What you’ve been doing to date may not be useful any longer; and things you might have rejected before could be incorporated now. We aim to direct 70% of all marketing activities to retaining current buyers and moving them to new-to-them products and services over time. That is the point of the GO CURVE. Among the activities included in this plan are delivery (does every employee understand the goals?), customer service, and the development of new offerings.
Make a Plan for Growth
If you assume you know everything about your buyers, you will just keep doing what you’re doing. And we know what that leads to: more of the same results you’ve had for years. The dreaded and all-too-frequent plateau.
When you’re eager to grow both revenue and profit, challenge your assumptions. If you’ve assumed something and have no proof of it, it’s time to challenge that assumption.
Getting a clear-eyed view of your assumptions is hard when you’re doing the work every day. An outside view—often called the third eye—is invaluable when you’re ready to focus on growth, not maintenance. We’d love to hear from you if you’re looking ahead. Do you want to create an upswing in profitable revenue? Give us a call. 703-801-0345.