We tell a story in everything that we do. For example, our checkbooks tell the story of how and where we spend our time. Do you frequent the same local restaurant every Friday night?
Your paper trail tells a story if you know how to read it. It’s no different in business. Your potential and current clients are telling you a story in the data that you collect on them. But do you know how to read it and what to do with what you see?
What does the data say?
In “How to Use Client Data to Attain Your Goals,” John Mariotti mentions “the four formulas to capitalize on knowledge” including the power of organized data. John says that it’s important to “organize [data] in ways that direct decision-making.”
The raw data that you collect isn’t the same thing as information. If you neglect to turn the numbers into something that you understand, you can’t develop strategy from it. Besides, it’s the lessons from the data that makes it relevant, not the data itself.
At least that’s how I see it.
What do your clients want?
Magic is the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces. In business, the magic seems to come when you understand what your clients want and how to give it to them in a meaningful way. This can seem mysterious to some who don’t know what to do with the data they have. And it’s untouchable to others who ignore the research altogether.
In “How to Use Market Research to Develop Customer-Centered Offerings,” Ivana Taylor gives a different take on the use of surveys as a form of market research. She gives five tips on “how to turn your customer list into a valuable asset.” These tips will work if we work them, but the truth is the average small business owner tends to burn out when it comes to collecting data so that they can measure their impact and plan their futures. In fact, it’s common for small business owners to “shoot from the hip” and see what works—but that type of “research” doesn’t always work out.
If the goal is a better solution for our clients, then research is the beginning. But the magic is in how we use what we learn. Market research takes effort, but it matters. In fact, Ivana says “market research…gets customers involved in designing their own product and service experience.” And giving people what they really want is good for business. But you can’t know the market’s demand without doing the research.
What do you need to say?
Once you know what the data says and what your (potential) clients want, it’s up to you to communicate a message that connects and draws them in. In “The 3 Rules of Crafting an Effective Sales Letter,” Diane Helbig breaks down “the three rules of content.” She says, “An effective sales letter is designed to help you get an appointment, an opportunity to engage the prospect in a conversation about their business and their needs.”
The sales letter (and Diane gives some great and practical advice) works well for service-based companies including writers, speakers and all kinds of consultants. But it also works for product-based companies that intend to:
- sell in bulk or
- become a supplier at a new event or
- form a partnership with a complementing but a noncompeting product.
At the end of the day, once you know what your public wants, it still boils down to what you say and how you say it. The right words can bring paying clients. Put the data and the words together–and magic results.