If you want to make a living online, but you think your industry is too saturated with people competing, let me share a Silicon Valley secret that’s helped me run a successful online business in a very saturated industry for the last ten years.
It’s a term I borrowed from Silicon Valley Startup lingo, and although it’s used to develop successful high-tech startups all the time, the concept is still just as useful and crucial when you want to create any side-business.
It’s called Customer Discovery.
With every entrepreneur with a Facebook page running ads for their “next best way to make a million dollars,” you may think that there’s not a place for you to make an income online, but if you use this startup term to your advantage, you will exponentially increase your chances of success.
Understanding Your Ideal Customer
Finding and understanding my customer at Audio Issues has been one of the most valuable reasons for its success in the last five years. I’ve shared over a thousand blog posts about audio engineering throughout the years with my target audience, and the only reason they care about my content is that I understand what they want to know about.
Throughout the years I’ve educated a lot of home studio musicians about audio production, but what you may not know is that I’ve learned just as much about entrepreneurship and online business during that same time. Not only from running Audio Issues full-time for the last five years, but also from my education in entrepreneurship and business economics from the Eller College of Management.
The Importance of Customer Discovery
The lack of customer discovery can make or break your business. It’s much easier to solve a problem you already know a customer has than try to reinvent the wheel for people who don’t need to drive. It’s why engineers are notorious for creating solutions to problems that don’t exist.
With proper customer discovery, you’re able to narrowly define your ideal target market so you can laser focus on helping those you can serve.
Take one of my clients, Mischa Marks. He’s a bass player, music producer and teacher from Germany who runs the website Strictly Bass. I highly recommend checking out his music. It’s all instrumental bass that’s excellent to listen to when you want to be productive.
He went through my Email Excelerator program to learn more about how to use email to grow his business. He had an email list of fans and people who wanted to learn more about bass playing. During our time together, we went through the customer discovery process and narrowed down his ideal client. He was sick of teaching beginner bass lessons to kids whose parents forced them to take lessons. He wanted to serve bass players that were ready to learn advanced techniques. Bass students that would be excited to learn from him.
Once we narrowed down his customer segment, he went out and did customer interviews to figure out what they wanted to learn and came up with the Advanced Bass Player’s Roadmap, a six-week course to help intermediate bass players advance to the next level in their playing.
Here’s what he sent me after he made his first sale:
“just wanted to let you know, that I just had my first sales call for my 6 weeks course. And I landed the gig =) Beta tester number one is on the program. I’m super excited. It went really well. No uncomfortableness or weird silence. Almost natural.”
Take special notice when he said that the sales call “went really well.” With “no uncomfortableness or weird silence.”
That’s what happens when you align your skills with a customer that has a problem you know you can solve. It’s a value transaction where both of you win. As Mischa said, it’s “almost natural.”
Find Your Niche and Succeed
Finding your niche by discovering the right customer to serve is key to making a living in a saturated industry. However, to find your correct customer, you’ll need the courage to ignore 95% of your industry. That’s a topic we’ll talk about next.
What’s been your biggest problem with finding customers to grow your business? What questions would you want me to answer about finding, understanding, and focusing on your customer so you can succeed in your business? Let me know, and I’ll tackle it in one of these future emails!