Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media.
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Good Morning Onward Nation — I’m Stephen Woessner. During episode 193…I shared the deeply personal backstory of one of my biggest professional failures. It took me about 8 years before I could even speak about it.
It was the story of FortifiedNutrition.com and how my team and I built the company up to a valuation of $10 million (which was insane but par for the dot com course of 1999), and as a result, I was worth $3 million at the ripe old age of 28. That’s just bat crazy!
Then fast forward to March of 2000…Fortified Nutrition imploded when the dot-com bubble burst and the NASDAQ crashed.
My wife and I nearly lost everything — we nearly lost our house — and we definitely lost our life’s savings. Over $100,000 in cash sucked right out of our pockets. It was absolutely devastating.
But — we dug in — we rebuilt, we reinvented, and we came back stronger as a result of that failure. You can go back to episode 193 and listen to the whole story in excruciating detail.
But the Fortified Nutrition story inside episode 193 is not the end of my mistakes. As we know…many entrepreneurs have more than one epic failure in their journey or pathway to success — and I am definitely no different. So, unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on one’s perspective — episode 193 was not the end of the story.
I’m not sure who this quote belongs to, but I like it… “An entrepreneur is someone who makes enough money to pay for his or her mistakes.”
So, Onward Nation, during this solocast, I am going to share with you Colossal Failure #2…but more importantly…I am going to share with you a series of 13 questions you can ask yourself to help you avoid your own colossal mistake.
In fact, this next mistake makes the Fortified Nutrition loss of $100,000 out to be a walk in the park. It was a $200,000 failure called Predictive ROI LIVE and I recently shared the deep deep deep backstory with Jessica Rhodes when she interviewed me for her “Rhodes to Success” podcast. You can find the full episode right here.
Jessica gave our episode the fitting title of “How to Lose $200K & Still Rise Above The Failure.” Awesome!
I’m not going to repeat the Predictive ROI LIVE story during this solocast — you can get all of the fully transparent and completely candid details during my interview with Jessica. But let’s review why the event failed and how you can prevent mistakes like this from happening inside your business.
In short…the event failed for three simple reasons:
First, I was unwilling to shut down my ego and truly listen to what my mentor, Darren Hardy was saying to me about how to promote our event, Predictive ROI LIVE. As you will hear me say to Jessica, I just thought any business owner would love to come to the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, pay $7,000 to hear some amazing speakers and learn a few digital marketing strategies along the way. Good grief — I was so wrong.
Second, I was unwilling shut down my ego and take the necessary time to answer three very simple questions — and had I answered them — would have delivered a completely different result outcome.
And third, I was unwilling to define the avatar of our ideal event attendee.
So, your answers to the first set of three questions that I am about to share with you will help guide your overall communication strategy with customers and prospects. Your answers will help establish your expertise and why your message is relevant and deserves to be heard. But — your answers need to come from the perspective of your customer.
The second set of 10 questions will help ensure you are speaking to the RIGHT or most ideal customers and prospects. The 10 questions are the same 10 questions my team and I use at Predictive ROI to help our clients define their customer avatar…sometimes called a customer persona…or other similar terms.
Let’s not get hung up on terminology right now — and instead — focus on questions you can ask yourself and your team to properly define the “WHO” as it relates to your ideal customer and prospects.
So, I will share the full 13 questions with you. Had I taken the time to answer these questions — in precise detail — we likely would not have lost $200,000 on Predictive ROI LIVE.
We would have either have had a much more precisely defined value proposition — or — we would have discovered that at the time of our business — the event was too soon — we were swinging for the fences when we should have been paying attention to getting on base and scoring some runs.
So now let’s review the three questions to guide your overall communication strategy with customers and prospects.
First off…you need to remember that your customers will not remember what you said…but how what you said made them FEEL. And in order for them to feel something as a result of what you said…you need to have established the credibility in their mind’s eye so you have enough permission to say what needs to be said.
Throughout the entire conversation — heck — you may even be doing it now as you hear my voice — your audience will be asking themselves three simple questions…and you must answer them…or the conversation is over.
Question 1: Who are you?
Question 2: Why do I care?
Question 3: What’s in it for me?
Now, you may not like the questions — they may be too direct for your particular style — but they are, in reality, the essence of what your customers are asking themselves as they listen to you.
Let’s take a quick look at the questions.
The first two questions of “Who are you?” and “Why should I care?” are — at the core — credibility indicator questions. When beginning a conversation — especially with someone new — you need to answer these two questions in a short and succinct manner. No one likes the “Me Monster” at a party who goes on and on with the self-aggrandizing. So don’t do that. But a short sentence — or at the most — two sentences that answer these questions from the perspective of your customer is perfect.
And the third question of “What’s in it for me?” is the ultimate value proposition question. If you listen to the interview with Jessica Rhodes, you will hear me admit that one of the reasons our Predictive ROI LIVE event failed was because I — personally — yes, me — could never specifically explain, or define, why a business owner would want to invest $7,000 and head to the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, Florida to learn about digital marketing strategies. The pricing was off, the value proposition was non-existent, and the worst part, Darren Hardy, my mentor asked me this same question every time we talked. During every call he asked me, “Stephen, why would anyone want to come to this thing?” And I never set my ego aside — I never listened to Darren — and I never answered his very simple question. So the resulting outcome was that the event failed. Not awesome, Onward Nation.
When you are communicating with your audience…be sure to answer:
- Who are you?
- Why do I care?
- What’s in it for me?
Next…once you have your core message defined — it is time to crystallize with whom you are going to share your message — and — how to create emotional impact with your audience at the same time.
To help with this piece…I am going to show you how to fix one of the most expensive mistakes any business can easily make within their marketing strategy.
In fact, I call it Money Draining Mistake #5…or “Not Knowing Your Customer.”
I am excited to share this strategy and recipe with you. We are going to dig deep into why most companies fail at delivering high-quality communications to their customers. It is because they have not taken the time to understand their customers from an emotional perspective.
In fact, I will show how a single WORD can completely change a situation – and I am going to give you a specific step-by-step strategy or recipe for understanding exactly how to connect with your customers on a different and more valuable level than what you may be doing currently.
My hope for you is that you will take this recipe — apply it — and see predictable, measurable, and repeatable increases in sales inside your business as a result.
This recipe represents such a significant opportunity for you and your business because only about 2 percent of the business owners listening right now will take action on the steps I share.
Some words of caution, Onward Nation. You may nod your head in agreement when you hear this recipe — you may even take some notes – or even share this episode with a colleague.
But ultimately, your inaction will signify your acceptance of operating your business at the status quo — instead of at the level of excellence.
Onward Nation — please don’t let this be you!
Don’t fall into the trap of procrastination. My hope for you is that you will take the notes – have the discussions with your team — and then put the steps into action — swiftly. That is how excellence is reached.
This strategy has the potential of being a game-changer for you. Okay, let’s dig in.
First…I will ask you another question.
What’s the number one reason people buy anything?
I will give you a hint. It has nothing to do with the features, advantages, or benefits of the product or service.
In fact — it has everything to do with just one, four-letter word.
And that word is “HOPE.”
The only reason we buy anything is because we HOPE that tomorrow will somehow be better than today as a result of buying the product or service we are considering.
That’s it — HOPE.
So in order for you to fix this Money Draining Mistake, you need to understand how to make an emotional and empathetic connection with your prospects and customers.
You do this by becoming a HOPE Dealer to your customers.
Let’s take this a little bit deeper with another question.
What percentage of people make a purchase decision based solely on emotional reasons?
Would you guess 20%? 30%? Maybe even 50%?
The answer is 100%. Yes, 100%.
Now, we like to think we are such rational creatures and we only make decisions based on objective data and thoughtful analysis. But the reality is that all of our decisions — yes, 100% of them — are made for purely emotional reasons.
And because this percentage is so high — you and your business must become HOPE DEALERS to your customers. You can do that by connecting on an emotional and empathetic level with your “customer avatar”.
You can do this by understanding their challenges.
You can do this by understanding their pain points.
You can do this by going beyond demographic and economic data by metaphorically “Laying in their bed at night” to understand what is causing them pain…so you can get into the hearts and minds of your customers and prospects.
You need to understand the last thing they think about before they go to bed — and — the first thing they think about when they wake up in the morning.
Every piece of communication you send to your customer and prospect lists needs to speak directly to what we like to call your customer avatar.
You should give your avatar, him or her, or both a name. As if you were having a one-on-one conversation with them…right now…just you like and I are having…right now.
No surface answers — challenge yourself — and your team — to dig deep and push to find specific examples of situations that either reinforce or contradict what is currently believed to be true.
So now I am going to share 10 specific questions you and your team need to ask each other and then go out and ask your prospects and customers the same questions.
Question 1: what things are challenging our customers right now?
Question 2: what are our customer’s emotional fears or worries?
Question 3: what are their dreams and aspirations?
Question 4: what are their pain points?
Question 5: what are their values — and are their values the same as ours?
Question 6: who do they want to impress the most?
Question 7: what frustrates them about our business or others like us in the industry?
Question 8: what do they want from our business?
Question 9: what’s the one thing — or result — that if you could guarantee — your customers would pay a premium for?
Question 10: answer this on behalf of your customers… “You will gain my trust and comfort by…”
Once you have collected that data – you will have all you need in order to create your “Avatar.”
Some words of CAUTION!
Your avatar is one person. Not an email list of 20,000 people.
One person and you give him or her a name, a personality, you hang a photo of her on your conference room wall, and every time you write an email campaign, shoot a video, etc. you speak directly to your avatar.
Let me take you inside Predictive ROI to illustrate this point. Our client avatars are “Harry” and “Sally” (we chose those names because When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies of all time).
All of our conversations with Harry and Sally are personal — they are emotional — and they are always authentic.
And this is Sally:
- Sally and her team are ambitious and want to learn new things
- She knows there is more opportunity and growth “out there” and is frustrated she does not know how to capitalized on it, faster
- She reads lots of books but doesn’t know a good idea from a bad one
- She is uncertain and afraid to fail
- She has been fooled before and does not know who to believe
- Everything sounds too good to be true
- And Sally has said to me…“Stephen…I want to trust you…that you can do what you say you can do…show me the evidence quickly that it is working and that you are delivering on your promises”.
During more than one prospect client presentation, “Sally” has said to me – “My goodness, that’s me!” I love it when it happens because I know we just made a powerful, emotional connection.
I just wish we would have completed the same Avatar definition exercise BEFORE planning and promoting Predictive ROI LIVE. Our probability of success would have likely increased by a factor of 10.
You can too if you answer the ten avatar definition questions on behalf of your customer and then quickly apply what you learned.
So with that…I want to thank you again for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — thank you for tuning in — I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.
However our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.
And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.
So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.
We will be back tomorrow with an incredible interview with Donna McCurley — and we get practical and tactical about generating qualified sales leads through LinkedIn tools and systems — powerful conversation. You will not want to miss this discussion, Onward Nation!
Until then, onward with gusto!