Getting to the root of your clients’ problems is goal number one, no matter what. If it’s not, get back to the drawing board.
Every single client that I’ve ever worked with had a deeper reason for doing business, and I’ve made it my goal to get to that reason. Money is nice, but there are far easier ways than going into business for yourself. Ask any small business owner you know. If I can understand what motivates them the most, I can focus on that in our conversations and in the work that I do for them.
But how do I get to the root of their problems in order to design better solutions? I ask questions. Lots and lots of questions.
One of the biggest ones I ask is why. I ask why a lot. If I ask why enough times, I’ll sound like a little goober of a kid, but I’ll figure out where their heart’s at! That’ll help me develop a brand and identity that’s unique to them and consistent with their values and goals.
(Not a goober of a kid, but he does ask why a lot – this is a photo I took of my son at a birthday party.)
Here’s a talk that I had with a boutique cupcake shop owned by a mother daughter duo, speaking with the mother:
Me: So why did y’all decide to start baking cupcakes as a business?
Client: Well, my daughter is very good at it, and there was nobody near us that was doing it.
Me: Ok! Awesome, so y’all will have the market cornered in your neighborhood. That’s great. So if she really enjoys it, why are you starting the business?
Client: I want to handle the business side and have her handle the baking side.
Me: Fair enough. So of all things to go into business on, why cupcakes, specifically?
Client: Well, I want to be able to help her and my grandsons secure their futures. I guess it could be anything. Cupcakes just feel right because of what I said earlier – about her being good at it, and not really having any competition near by us. Besides everybody loves cupcakes!
Finally! We have a winner! She doesn’t just want to bake cupcakes. She’s not just trying to make a living. She’s trying to create a small seed in the form of a business. The big idea is for the business to become a part of the legacy she leaves to support the generations after her. A very honorable goal, I might add.
Notice, I didn’t just say why, why, why like a little kid. I made her answers work for me to continue prodding without sounding like I’m prodding.
So now that I know the root of the client’s problems, how do I leverage that and make it really work?
(This is a photo I took of some cupcakes that my friend Crystal made.)
I make the why questions a part of my goal, and I weave it into my conversations with them. I have a family, and I want to leave a legacy too. Knowing their real goals, I can put 110% of my effort towards kicking butt for this client. This also gives me yet another reason to be passionate about my client and their project.
That passion will come across in the calls and the work, and BOOM, now I’ve leveraged it. Basically, I’m just being myself, and being strategic about it.
People are driven by emotions, and I’m no different. A client can tell when your heart’s in it, and getting to the core of their needs helps you put your heart in it. Nobody’s in business to not make money. Beyond that, there’s a deeper reason that they’re willing to work 80 hours to avoid working 40.
If you can get to that, everybody wins.
In the next blog, I’ll share my questionnaires that help me get to this why.