“I think something’s wrong with dad.”
That was the alarm sounded by my then six-year-old son, Wylie, as I wobbled to the nearest bench like a 3 a.m. drunk, fearing I would broadcast the contents of my stomach across the fairground lawn.
Retching on your home turf is unpleasant enough. Performing in front of a horrified audience adds a layer of shame that lingers long after the teenagers lower their phones.
If anything, my undoing was all Wylie’s fault.
He’s the one who said the Tilt-A-Whirl didn’t “look very tilty.” Then, to drive his point home …
In his defense, the Tilt-A-Whirl isn’t a ride designed to satisfy one’s inner daredevil.
There’s no promise of plunging, careening, or decapitating.
But whirling in the hands of a father trying to be a hero to his boy can be more ferocious than you might imagine.
It was for this guy.
Once the ride began, Wylie and I leaned into each turn until our cabin was spinning with enough force to void my life insurance policy.
Shrieks of pleasure or squeals of pain depended on who you asked. (Yeah, I know it’s “WHOM.”)
Later, on the bench, I realized my relationship with the Tilt-A-Whirl had ended. The ride I enjoyed as recently as the previous summer had betrayed me. And my lunch.
From now on, instead of being a part of the action, I’d be holding the purses and windbreakers for the aged six and up crowd.
* * *
A lot can change in a year.
So, if you haven’t checked in on your audience’s buying behaviors in a while, you’re missing opportunities to sell them.
“But we don’t have the time or budget for formal research, Matt.”
Having been on the client side for more than 20 years, I get that.
Still, there are loads of simple, no-cost ways to get yourself up to speed on how your audience thinks.
🎤 Customer interviews
Long-standing customers can tell you how you’ve changed their lives. Their experience will help you paint the picture of a similar—and proven—outcome to your prospects.
New customers might reveal frustrations that led them to you. Use any common pain points to speak to your prospects’ current state of dissatisfaction and how you can help. Common anxieties work to drain objections..
⛏️ Review mining
Online reviews help you understand the motives behind buying—not just what customers need, but why. In just a couple hours of digging, you’ll be able to identify themes and insights you can translate into messaging that uses your customers’ own language to pull them in.
🎧 Social listening
OK, there’s a cost to most social listening tools, but here’s a freebie I got from fellow wordmonger, Shlomo Genchin. GigaBrain scans billions of discussions on Reddit and other online communities to give you the most relevant posts to your search.
(I use it even when I already have comprehensive audience research.)
* * *
Of course, if you have the freedom to launch a broader customer research study, that’s your best move.
But having a few pulse-taking tricks in your back pocket will help keep your communications relevant, even when time and money are tight.
Because even a little knowledge is always better than guessing
Whew, that was a hike. Thanks for sticking with me.
See you next time. – Matt
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