Back in the PUA community, there were a ton of Keyboard Jockeys. These were the guys who would read all the material and theorycraft the hell out of everything. They knew the ins and outs of the lingo and would write about how all the theory should work. Those guys were morons.
The people who went out knew the KJs were full of shit. The theory is great (it really isn't.. ), but the application of theory gets messed up really fast. Being in field forces you to challenge your theory and adapt your approaches, otherwise you're going to continually fail. But being in field isn't enough - you also have to have the introspection and active/engaged learning to diagnose and understand what's actually going wrong. And those guys never did that -- those guys never failed or put themselves in a position to fail. So they never put themselves to succeed.
Like I've mentioned in my OYS threads, I recently launched a side business in the travel services space. We're incorporated and we think we have a great solution to a problem people have. We're really excited to get out there and show how awesome we are to potential customers. So we did what any great company would do, we got in front of people. I spent this past weekend at a local festival trying to sell my product.
For the record, I've never sold anything in my life. I like engaging people when I'm in the mood, and I'd like to think I have pretty good interpersonal skills. I've never done any marketing, customer engagement, or sales. But I have a great service, so it should literally sell itself. Easy, right?
Frankly, it sucked. It was awesome from a learning perspective, but right away I knew we weren't up to par. To our right was a gallery with photo booths and arts and crafts for kids. To our left was a Church was 5-7 people staffing it at any time, huge flow of friends and visitors, and a spinny wheel where they were just giving stuff away.
Our booth? It was me and my partner. We had a 4x8 banner and a canopy that you'd use while camping. We had literally nothing to engage people except the fact that there were 2 of us, and a belief in our product. So what'd we do? Cold approaches -- just like the good ol' PUA days.
It was grindy, like pulling teeth. People were polite, and some people were pleasant, others were interested, but ultimately, we were doing it wrong. They knew it, we felt it, the vibe just didn't flow right. It was draining and a defeating, but it was also such a massive learning experience.
Day 1 Retrospective
After day 1, it all felt wrong, but what was actually wrong? Taking the time to do a retrospective on what went wrong was so key to making progress on day 2.
There was the obvious
- We didn't have a good hook (no marketing, no free stuff).
But there was the much more subtle stuff
- We were trying to push our service onto people instead of knowing we have value and giving them the opportunity to want to learn about us. People hate feeling like they've a commodity -- and ultimately that was what we were doing day 1.
There was absolutely no reason for us to try to sell, because our service actually provides value. All we needed to do, was find the people who would benefit from our problem. Instead of talking about us and what we do, the focus needed to be on the customer and the problems that we can solve for them, i.e. our value add.
It was awesome. It was a 12 hour day that felt like nothing. What'd we change? Just about everything.
We pimped our setup. We added a globe and some airplanes.
We went for a conversation instead of a sell. We got a globe and some pins to get an initial engagement. This was refined throughout the day from "Where are you going next?" to a more hypothetical "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" With the former, people still reacted as if we wanted to sell them something, and so wanted to avoid us if possible.
We changed our approach. Instead of going to talk to people, we'd engage people who slowed down to read our banner. This made it a warmer approach. We gave an excuse for why we were talking to them, so they could feel the plausible deniability. "Hey! We're putting pins on our globe for where people want to travel. If you could.." We learned that putting a pause after "Hey!", actually drove people away, because that gave them time to worry about what we're trying to sell them on.
We focused on learning about the customer. Who were these people coming to see us? Did they like to travel? If so, where? How often? What's their dream destination? Why? The lady who wanted to go to Zimbabwe was fascinating. And then to the points were our value lies. Do you book your own travel? What do you find most challenging? Is it the constant booking and price anxiety? That's where we can help. So now, instead of trying to get them to buy our service, we're solving their actual problems.
It was killer, just so much easier... and it's things I should've remembered from my PUA days. I'm not there to convince someone that I'm valuable. I'm already valuable. I'm there to learn about the other person to see if we're compatible. And if we are, let's see how we move forward to be mutually beneficial.
Day 2, we didn't need to sell anyone anything. They engaged with us. They asked for our cards. They signed up for our newsletter. Because we weren't trying to get them to buy anything, we were offering value and it was up to them to engage or not. And when they learned it was free value, they absolutely wanted to engage. Day 1, we had 4 email sign ups when we tried to get them to sign up. Day 2, we had multiple pages even though our approach was "we have a mailing list. if you're interested, feel free. if you're not, no worries."
There's a lot of stuff packed into the anecdote from the weekend. And none of it really has to deal with my shitty attempt at marketing. What it's really about is being better.
For you, dear reader, what I want you to takeaway are the following 3 points:
Not showing up means you're guaranteed to fail.
I thought our service was so cool that it'd be so easy to do marketing and customer acquisition. I was full of shit and very, very wrong. That's why getting the actual in-field experience was enlightening. Next step is to get a way bigger globe to do more peacocking.
Just showing up is not enough.
If all we did was to show up on day 2 and do the exact same shit we did day 1, we'd fail just as badly on day 2 with even greater volumes because of the longer day. "Hey! We're here! Buy us!" -- still a shitty tactic.
Being actively engaged, understanding the problem, and adapting are how you set yourself up to be better.
Refinement and improvement is all about understanding what's actually going wrong. You can't figure out what's going on if you're just dilly dallying going through the motions.
It's easy to end day 1 thinking we just had dickhead customers who didn't appreciate our greatness enough (true! by the way), and it was easy to think that day 2, with more people we would've had more and better customers (pipedream).
The hard work was understanding why things weren't really working and testing out different strategies to get that improvement. And then continually refining to be continually improving.
When I read OYS posts, so many of you guys are doing great work, doing the hard stuff -- the retrospection/introspection, the adaption, and the testing of various approaches, I love it. But there are some of you guys who just flounder and wait on other people's solutions -- and the reality for those people is they simply won't succeed. They'll be in a groundhogs day loop of Day 1.
I want you all to succeed, but if you have no interest in making yourself successful, I have no interest in making this fantastic place available to you. So be sure you're setting yourself up for success with or without MRP.