That’s an image, isn’t it?
Sending them packing. Telling them their name’s not on the list. Keeping people away from what you do.
It sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Particularly as we look at the stories of the impending financial crisis on top of the crisis of lockdown.
But what if keeping people out is the best move we can make?
Your purpose is not to make everyone happy
The post title is a quote from Priya Parker, who wrote the fascinating “The Art of Gathering“. When you think about a physical event (remember those?), then capacity obviously plays a part in how many people you can let in.
But if you’re creating a distinctive product, then there’s going to be things about it that some people are going to completely fall in love with.
Those same things will also make some other people as mad as hell. And that’s ok.
Purpose. Story. Product.
Everyone has a purpose in their business. It’s just sometimes we feel the word purpose means something lofty like saving the whales.
It can, but it doesn’t have to only mean that.
Your story can be your bouncer, and so can your product. Let’s face it, if you’re producing artisanal British cured meats from outdoor reared, free-range native breed pigs, you don’t need a bouncer to tell a vegan they’re not coming in. But just that snippet of the story might also tell the average Peperami lover you’re probably not for them.
So why spend time trying to convince them otherwise?
Find the 1,000
You might know the theory of the 1,000 true fans, the people who always turn up and buy everything you do. For many smaller businesses, 1000 people will feel more feasible, more achieveable than looking for 100,000, or half a million.
One thousand people who buy into your story, what you do and why. Ready for what you do next.
People who’ve already bought what you do, even if you haven’t launched it yet. In their minds, they’re ready whenever you remind them about what you do. Now, that might not come true right in the moment, but it would be a lot easier to get the sale from a confirmed charcuterie lover than trying to convince the Peperami buyer.
Ignore the 1,000
If they’re that important, surely we should be treating them like royalty?
Well, yes and no.
The yes part is keeping doing the things they love and value about what you do. Don’t let them down. Keep them happy, don’t take them for granted. But they’re with you. These are the people who’ll get you out of a tight corner.
So stop selling to them, and instead help them to tell your story.
Create 1,000 storytellers
Whether they admit it or not, people love bragging rights. Okay, some might dress it up as being helpful, or sharing, but there’s a little bit in offering up a recommendation that’s about you. What good taste you have, how cool you are, how much you have your finger on the pulse.
While those things might not figure overtly in the stories you tell, giving people great stories to tell about what you’re up to helps them to feel good. It reinforces why they choose, and continue to choose, to support what you do.
If the only story you give them is a sale, a discount, a 3 for 2…well, that’s not the most exciting story to tell anyone else about, is it? Maybe once or twice, but you’ll probably stop after that.
You might even make them reconsider if they’re actually such a fan.
What stories should I tell?
Things that do more than just convince to buy, but also inspire, entertain, educate.
Those are the stories that people remember and choose to share. They’re the kind of stories that make people remember why they’re such a fan of what you do.
Tell them in written form, in photos, in tweets, in newsletters. Wherever your folks hang out, tell them there.
I’ll never get to 1000
If you’re a business of 1 with a list of 6, then 1000 can look like Kardashian levels of followers and fans. I get it.
Make your own number, the principle still applies. Focus on the quality, and giving them lots of things they’ll value. Ten today will slowly become eleven. Maybe you’ll do something that will give you a bit of a jump, and suddenly you’re at twenty-five.
For example, my list was growing slowly, but took a jump when I launched the Food & Drink Awareness Days Calendar last year. Yes, it was a shedload of work, not to mention a lot of editing during this crazy year, but it gave something valuable to people who’d already joined the list. They were happy, and shared that value around.
Keep the bouncer happy
When you stop worrying about making everyone happy, then you give your metaphorical bouncer some guidelines. It helps you think about the stories you want to tell and to who.
If you’re not sure and want to bounce some ideas around, then get it in touch. I’m happy to have a chat and share some resources.
If you care about stories, then my bouncer will let you in.