A better question?

In John Battelle’s searchblog blog this week, he writes that he urged the MacArthur Foundation to spend some money helping students, among other things, learn to ask better questions, rather than regurgitating answers they’ve been taught.

“…as many wiser than I have noted through the course of history, the most creative act a human can engage in is not repeating an answer, it is forming a good question.”

Questions are the answer. Have you heard that too? Because your question determines your mind’s focus.

Who can forget JFK’s new question to Americans years ago: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

In that spirit..I’d like to suggest a new question for entrepreneurs.

Ask not: “How can I get the world to see how great these nutritional products are?”

Ask: “How can I find people who already feel like I do about the importance of nutrition and nutritional supplements?”

You can replace “nutritional supplements” with say, toxin-free cleaning products, or your kind of personal care products, whatever product type or service you market.

NOTE. Whatever you’re talking about in the question above MUST be something YOU USE or really love to do yourself. “Like I do” is a key phrase to identify who YOU are to your listener. Whether you’re a printer or whether you market personal care products that you use yourself.

Your choices make a statement about you. Take people who shop at Whole Foods – they make a statement doing that. It tells you something about them.

You too, make a statement by choosing to market something YOU love. A statement about your values. I suggest you start there, and then find others just like you. Others who already HAD those leanings before you came along.

Marketing your products by answering the second question gives you a different experience than what you get using the old persuade them marketing approach.

Persuade them marketing is based on that first question, and its philosophy is apparent in book titles like Hypnotic Marketing (with a company called Hypnotic Marketing (Vitale)) or Mind Control Marketing (Joyner), or The Science of Influence: How to get anyone to say “yes” in 8 minutes or less! (Hogan.) The idea is to get others to do what you want.

But the persuade them approach has not worked well long-term for many entreprenuers who market something they love or love to do.

Here’s an alternative:

Search out people who share your view, interest, cause or ideas already, first. Talk to THEM first about your thing. After you’ve done that, and some of them become your avid loyal customers or business partners, you can always preach to “the heathen.”

It won’t matter to your income if they listen or not. Because you’ll have your believers in your camp already, buying your stuff like you do.

Let’s call this approach for now, like me marketing because you lead with YOUR interest. You are looking for people like YOU. Not persuading people not like you, to become like you or to love what you love.

And you will tell them YOUR story first, instead of making empty promises about what will happen to them when they buy your thing. Promises which are suspect to them anyway, since you have an agenda, remember? (You’re trying to sell it.)

The people you’re looking for are already players in your sandbox, or in your game, so to speak. You’re going to round them up – call their name, if you will.

Here’s a way to look for your players.

The tennis club test

Imagine this.

Let’s say you’re mad about tennis, have been for years, and you decide to start a tennis club in your town.

Tennis Club Test:
What are the 3 first qualities you will look for in your prospective tennis club members?

1. People who_____________

2. People who_____________

3. People who_____________

Now, try the Tennis Club Test with the product or service you market, the one(s) you use and are most in love with yourself. You know, something that has benefited you in a way that matters to you and the quality of your life.

How will that change what your marketing strategies will become?

Email me your responses when you work them up. I can post some of them here.

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Kim Klaver

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