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Trying to reach your ideal customer? They might be closer than you think

What if you've already found your tribe without knowing it? It's worth considering, because they're probably sending you a message about your product or service that you can easily miss if you don't listen carefully. This was true for us, and we're learning some incredible things from our 'tribe', things that might help you as you work to find and connect with yours.Last week we launched our new coaching hub, which was a ground-up redesign of the platform our individual and executive coaching clients use. And while we celebrated that milestone, we started thinking about the next major release of our online education platform, the 'other half' of our online service. In talking with Sam, our Product Manager, a part of our story that we hadn't fully appreciated started to come together.


The online education app wasn't just a new product for us, it was an entirely new way of putting the EMyth process out there - like nothing else we've done in our 40 year history. And it gave us a window into our customers that we didn't have before. We learned a ton in the first year, and we spent a lot of time thinking about retention (i.e. how do we keep more people staying for longer). On that score, we did well - and over the last 9 months we've increased conversion and reduced attrition through more proactive outreach, responding to feedback, and completing our core 'feature set'.

And, as 'right' and 'best-practicey' as all that was and is, we started seeing that, by comparison, we were paying a lot of attention to keeping the people who were coming and going, and less attention to the people who were doing something that didn't jump out as much - they were staying. They were saying something that seemed innocent and sweet enough which was 'I love it, keep up the great work.' But when we dug deeper and asked some better questions, we found out the 'full version' of what they were saying, which was:

"I love what you guys are putting out there and I want to be a part of it. And so long as it's reasonable, I really don't care about the price because it makes my life better. What matters to me is the feeling that you care and are diligently working on improvements. So, don't worry about me - I'm not going anywhere - just keep up the good work."

Now, maybe you have 3000 people like this on your customer rolls or maybe today you just have 3, but aren't these really the people you're in business for? Could you have a more ideal customer than them? Now comes the really hard part, which is to not confuse ideal with easy-to-please.

listen to the message, but don’t worry about converting the messenger.

Because while it sounds like your tribe is letting you off easy, the truth is the opposite. They also want more, it's just that new features and lower prices aren't the 'more' they're after. What they want is more connection - more of the resonance they already feel - so they can get closer to your story over time. They want to feel how your values are becoming more and more integrated into your product or service over time.

If that sounds impossible, here's the good news: it actually makes your thought process simpler by reducing the number of questions you have to ask down to just two. The first is about clarity: "What specific feeling, or set of feelings, does our tribe get to feel by having us in their life?" The second is about execution. "What can we do to give them more of that feeling, to increase the meaning of it, and to make it easier and more delightful to get?"

The challenge is in resisting the temptation to chase the wrong people. This doesn't mean ignoring the good feedback they often have, but focusing instead on applying that feedback to the more important work of deepening your relationship with the right people. In other words, listen to the message, but don't worry about converting the messenger.

"Product development" and "customer/user-experience design" can sound cold and calculating, but done right, it will take you right to the heart of your company's reason-for-being. It's a place to ask the deep questions that probably don't get enough of your attention in the day-to-day. There's no better place to dig in.

Jonathan Raymond

Written by Jonathan Raymond

Jonathan was a frequent contributor to the EMyth blog from 2011-2015. His articles focus on marketing, branding, and organizational culture.