In Ronald Brown’s book "Anticipate. The Architecture of Small Team Innovation and Product Success", he spells out the steps that we should go through in finding more customers. Many individuals think this process is a mystery, but Brown is quick to point out that customer discovery requires the 5 steps listed below. He also states as long as you are methodical in your approach, you will be successful.
Here are the steps with an added bent toward the event meeting services industry.
1. Market Segmentation
As the saying goes, "If you are everything to everyone, you are nothing to nobody." Understanding how your event services company aligns with the segments you wish to serve is important and essential to keeping your doors open.
In our industry, planners usually fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Wedding or
But most great planners cannot service all these segments, usually just 1 or 2. The important thing is to figure out which markets you have the most competitive offerings AND will lead you to long-term financial gains.
2. Test Your Hypothesis
How do you know that your product or service is desired by the client? You need to identify the customer’s urgent and important "pain points" in order to create a competitive advantage. Here are some ways to identify your client’s problems:
- Study the competition’s offerings and determine how they are fairing;
- Set up personal meetings with senior executives;
- Hire a consulting firm to conduct one-on-one interviews with all your clients;
- Conduct focus groups and;
- Talk to your suppliers, like the hotel and conference services managers, as well as, event audio visual rental companies
According to Brown, from all of this data you should be able to determine a meaningful competitive edge and the essential service features you must add to your offerings.
3. Step Into The Client’s Shoes
Look at your service offering through the lens of the client by spending a significant amount of time with them as they use your services. Procter & Gamble, uses a program called "Living It", where company employees live with consumers for a period of time to learn what they need. This goes way beyond talking, it starts to embrace their way of life to see their pain points first hand.
4. Get Testimonials in the Form of Stories
Everyone has testimonials, but the really good ones are delivered in the form of a story. An example might be how an interactive technology tool rental company took their client’s annual meeting from a real snoozer with low attendance to a vibrant event with interactivity and buzz. Stories sell, testimonials don’t.
5. See if it will Stick
Rather than spending a lot of time and money on a new product or service offering, send the prototype to the client. Get feedback, improve, and send it back to them. Asking clients and prospects to be part of your service development team makes them feel special and appreciated. They will take the time to give you honest feedback if they see you are making changes in the offering.