The number 1. It seems small. It sometimes seems like not enough. The only time the number 1 seems to be truly appreciated is in contests, races, etc. I can tell you first hand that the number 1 is the reason your business will thrive or die a slow withering death going into the future in the digital age we live in. Let’s dive in…
The Power of 1 Explained
I’ll explain the power of 1 through a real experience that I faced getting our core brand at Phase 2 Solutions, Social HubSite (a private social networking platform), off the ground. When I first launched Social HubSite back in 2011 I thought, “Hey, this will be easy, optimize the website for keywords around social network platforms, post to the blog daily, and reach out to people managing social media for companies”. The model in my head was all about getting as many people to setup and pay for a Social HubSite and charge a low monthly price to draw them in. Seems logical right? Offer a free trial and convert even 100 paying clients at $99 and you have a residual revenue stream of 120K business on your hand.
In the first 6 months we attracted roughly 800 new people to sign up for free trials. Mind you, getting these initial users cost a pretty penny. I also took notice that we had a good number of users that would setup their Social HubSite, but then just leave and do nothing. For those of you SAAS vendors, I’m sure you can relate to the frustration this causes.
Even the best social media tactics fail without focus
We did everything possible to get people to use and pay for their Social HubSite within their trial period. Individual email follow ups, auto responders, training webinars, video tutorials, etc. Heck, I even reached out to a few promising users to offer training myself. Yet, very few responses, very few conversions. Urrg!
As the creator of the product I sat there saying, “It must be the product. What should I add? What should I change?” So for the next 2 years of slow and frustrating growth, I invested a good bit of time and money into enhancing everything I could with the product. And…no growth. Free trial sign ups were about the same and conversions were almost non-existent. All the coding and enhancements in the world seemed like a lost cause.
Tactics don’t fail, failure to focus does
Then I realized something that would change the course of everything. The whole time I was focusing almost 100% of my attention on the product and not the problem that it solves for a specific market of people and organizations that have that problem. I realized that the problem was not that people weren’t converting and our efforts weren’t working. The problem was that I had been focusing on trying to get a user that I didn’t know to fit into the product. I basically had to make them aware that they even had a problem in the first place.
The other thing I realized is that pre-existing communities (associations, clubs, religious organizations and company teams) were seeing the most success with the product. They used it every single day (i.e. for document sharing, committee events, member messaging, fundraising, etc.). That is, however, the reason that I created the product in the first place, to unite communities of people around a mission or cause. This realization would have never occured unless I slowed down and actually paid attention to the real problems I was solving. For example, associations have a tough time pulling together all of the time and resources necessary to organize communication around the various different groups, committees, events and people that make the association what it is. Social HubSite helped to consolidate all of that activity into one central location – hence the term “HubSite” 🙂
I took this notion as step further by taking an association client out to lunch to dive into the real problems that associations face. Before I had an idea, but didn’t really know. A $25 lunch was a small price to pay to validate real problems that need to be solved for a particular market segment. Much better than spending years guessing 🙂 Wish I would have learned that in 2011 – haha.
Focus changes everything
Once I had a good bit of imperial data on the problems in the association market, I started to shift our social media efforts toward these segments which provided a real value for them. Think of articles, videos, case studies and webinars tailored specifically to a particular market segment. When you create and share content to help them overcome real problems, it gets read. If you generalize, you become irrelevant and just “another” blah blah blah company. Don’t be another blah blah blah company.
This focus took a ton of discipline. You say “NO” to a lot of opportunities, however for every “NO” there is another better opportunity awaiting. On a side note, I think I’m supposed to give credit to my friend Ryan Coleman for engraving this into my brain – haha.
So breaking this down to social media terms. Think about how focus on a particular market segment changes the way you title your articles and videos. What groups you join. Who you follow and converse with on Twitter. Who you connect with on LinkedIn. The angle you put on your content. I think you get the idea here.
Laser focused energy can cut through steel
Moving on… with this focus I decided to lead my marketing team with the methodology around building real relationships with our targeted clients (associations in this case) and not just treating them as a number on a spreadsheet. At the surface level, this seems like slower growth, but it’s the exact opposite. When you focus on building a real relationships with people that have real problems that you’ve demonstrated you’ve identified and have proven to solve, you have a real community.
Your perspective on everything will change. You focus less on how to add dollars to your bank account and more on the problem that your target segment(s) have and how to better solve those problems. You look at EVERY SINGLE PERSON as a human being, not a picture that floats on a screen somewhere. A living breathing person that you can help. A trust me, that ONE person that you help will open the door to more like people (i.e. customers) than you will know what to do with. Mass market and blast people with marketing and all you will get is one off’s. If you’re lucky you might get a bunch of them as customers, but let’s face it, your only marketing driver there is money. It’s a heck a of a lot cooler to say you’ve built 90%+ of your business with word of mouth and through social media.
Still don’t believe me? Read this article on USA Today about how ALS increased donations by almost $15 million from the same period last year all through people. Oh and do I need to mention that it starts with ONE person.
Start small – build a ground swell
So, to sum up, the power of 1 is nothing more than the mentality of building better quality relationships with specific types of people/organizations that have problems that you’ve proven to understand and solve. Stop worrying about reaching 1,000 people today. Focus on just 1 person. Seriously, today just focus on building a relationship with one key person within your focused segment of people/organizations that you know you can help by solving a clearly defined problem. That 1 person will not only be your customer and friend, but also a lifelong valued member of your community.