The people you serve

The people you serve

Photo by Charlotte Harrison on Unsplash

By: Stella Orange

Rebecca and I often start work with all kinds of clients in all kinds of businesses at the same place. By asking a person, “Tell us more about WHO you serve – what are the common threads they tend to share?”

We are listening for common characteristics, absolutely.

We are also listening for distinctions between who someone USED to serve and who they desire to serve more of in the FUTURE.

It doesn’t take a long time to pin down who a person’s work is for.

But from what I’ve observed, it does take some time for that person to accept and integrate that distinction into their marketing and sales experiences.

Because what tends to happen is that they slide back into what they’ve been doing. Back into what’s familiar. Back into what worked before with the old group.

That’s totally normal, by the way. It’s human nature.

Why, just yesterday I was talking to a businesswoman who recognized that, even though she was clear on WHO her company’s work is for, her team was still pumping out content that spoke to a more entry-level market that they’d served in the past. 

“They don’t get it,” she told me, “and no matter what feedback I give them, they can’t see the distinction between who we used to serve and the higher level clientele we are serving now and want to serve more of in the future.”

I asked my friend, who was planning on bringing back her podcast this summer, if she had evidence that her “established and busy entrepreneurs who are clear that they need strong operations support” actually listened to podcasts.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“So maybe it makes sense to take two steps back, and ask yourself if starting the podcast up again even makes sense for your people. Or maybe there is something simpler you can do, that would bear more fruit because it’s more in line with what this group actually wants to see and experience from you before they set up a call.”

My friend is going to think about this and we’ll check back in in a couple weeks to see where she’s landed.

But the truth is, I’ve seen many more business owners get far too attached to how they think their business “needs to look”… or “how we did it in the past”… even when the reality is that it’s not what their business needs to reach their goals now.

Things change.

And so, too, do we.

But, real talk? I get how tough this can be. It’s hard to leave the pack and set off on your own adventure. Especially when that adventure doesn’t look like what “everyone else” seems to be doing – or what we did in the past that actually worked and got us to where we are today.

I write this as someone who built a very profitable email marketing business with six figure launches and scads of people on my mailing list, only to realize that – gulp – it wasn’t my idea of a good time.

I tried all kinds of things – hiring team members, hiring specialists, throwing all sorts of money at the problem – trying to bargain my way out of what I sensed was a dead end for me.

Letting go can be like that.  
Wayfinding can be like that.

But, as Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

So banzai and here we go, brazenly into the future,

Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.

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