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The Customer Edit

When I first started my business back in 2005, I would work with anyone.

And I mean anyone.

If you had a pulse, and money in your pocket, you could be my customer.

I was clueless about who my perfect customer was and how to find them.

Check it…

: I drove around to spas and left stacks of my brochures at the front desk for their clients (without having any clue who their clients were!).

: I rented booths at trade shows, networking events, and expos of all kinds. (And handed out my “girlish” pale pink note cards, notepads, business cards, stickers, and brochures – which you can imagine went over BIG at commercial real estate trade shows).

: I placed ads on the back pages of alternative newspapers. (Only realizing this was a bad idea when a man called asking me if I could help him find a Christian wife. Even though I was clueless about my target market, I was confident Christian matchmaking wasn’t it.)

Even after hiring a top business coach and attending countless workshops on how to create a customer avatar, I was still clueless. 

None of the mainstream advice made sense to me. It felt formulaic and out of alignment with how I naturally moved through the world.

For someone like me who designs products and services from her heart & soul, boxing myself in with ideal customer profiles, avatars, and demographics was the kiss of creative death.

And get this, at the time more than 50% of my clients were men. Now there’s nothing wrong with men. But when I was working with men, I never felt like I could be totally myself. 

There was a new, more vibrant Erika who wanted to come out. 

On my blog and in my emails I wanted to write about stilettos and all things glam. I also struggled with my writing voice as I was crafting Think Like A Stripper. 

I wanted to have clients I could go to happy hour with. And hang with women who wore skinny jeans & stilettos, loved green smoothies, and read Fast Company. 

I knew I had to make a major shift in how I was showing up. 

Now, I’m not a “hype” gal. I just take care of what needs to be done.

So I didn’t make some sort of a grand announcement. Instead …

I took three small – but very effective – actions that made it clear who I was marketing to and what I would be sharing with them.

  1. On my blog, I used the pronoun “she.” I referred to my audience as women. I talked about stilettos, makeup, and lip-gloss. 
  1. When I was writing Think Like A Stripper, I imagined that I was writing the book to one of my besties. And I pictured groups of women sharing their favorite stripper tips while sipping green smoothies.
  1. I started networking almost exclusively at women’s events & conferences. (Oh, and of course I ditched the pale pink “girly-girl” branding in favor of a look that reflected my BOLD personality!) 

As I rolled out these changes, some of my male readers wrote to me and asked, “Hey, do I have to be a hot lady to read your blog now?”

“NO!” I replied, “But you do have to put on red lipstick before you open up my emails.”

Before long, I’d narrowed down my client base to women who were interested in my BOLD viewpoints and voice – and who wanted to grow their businesses with sales & marketing that was FUN.

Years later, I love my audience (that’s you!). 

I love my clients.

And all from three tiny, but mighty, shifts.

XXXO