Concentric circles of customers: Focus on people who already share your worldviews

“Don’t try to market to everyone.” By now, this advice is obvious. We know we can’t appeal to everyone.

But what if you feel like your product really is for everyone? Where do you start?

One way to narrow down your focus is to think about your customers as concentric circles on a bullseye. In the center of the bullseye are your core customers. These are people who are die-hard fans, who completely “get it.” They are excited you exist.

Start by marketing to them, then expand outwards. This is especially valuable if you have limited resources and bandwidth. 

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Everything takes longer than you think, so plan accordingly

I was on the phone with my bank recently. I thought it would take 10 or 15 minutes... It took 51 minutes. 

Almost an hour.

Whether you are troubleshooting a technical issue, hiring to grow your team, or planning a party…

Everything takes longer than you think.

Why does this matter? Because every day, we have to estimate how long things will take. 

If you get better at estimating timing, you’ll be less stressed in all areas of life.

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How to write your own job description (and invent your role)

Creating a new position for yourself--one that doesn't yet exist--sounds too good to be true. But many of us have done it, and I’ve personally done it multiple times. I want to share a few ideas that will help you do it too.

Maybe you’ve grown tired of your current job responsibilities. Or maybe you see an opportunity to contribute, but the role isn’t listed on your company’s careers page. You might think there’s nothing else you can do--except wait for your fortune to change.

Luckily, writing your own job description can be the solution.

This is your chance to get creative about what you would like to work on that adds value to your organization. Here are a few things to keep in mind to get a “yes” from your hiring manager.

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Leveling upWes KaoLeveling up
How to regain control in a meeting

One of the by-products of having bold ideas is you will often pitch your ideas to groups of people. And whenever you have more than one person in a room, there’s the chance that the conversation gets derailed.

What if you’re caught off guard because people have taken over your meeting?

It’s important to control the meeting so you can move your project forward.

I’ve read advice on this topic in the past, but most recommendations are too abrasive to say to people you actually want to continue working with. "I COULD say that… But my team would be shocked/horrified by how blunt I sound and end up hating me."

For those of us with a collaborative leadership style, it’s important to have scripts you can realistically picture yourself saying.

Here’s what to say to get your meeting back on track and why it works.

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How to market a product you wouldn't use

It’s easier to sell stuff you use yourself. That's why companies give employee discounts.

This way, the staff can genuinely say, “My favorite pasta is the carbonara, but if you’re in the mood for seafood, the scallops are magical.”

But if a product you have to market isn't for you, what should you do?

There will come a day when you won’t be in the exact same demographic and psychographic as your customers. Your job is to connect with them anyway.

Learning to get excited about what your customers get excited about will make you better at every part of your job.

So how do you do that?

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MarketingWes KaoMarketing, Empathy
Simplify first, not last

One common approach is to write a lot, then trim later.

But sometimes, that means you come up with something entirely different than if you had decided to write something short from the beginning.

Simplifying first is a strategy to help you surface options that are categorically better. By setting a different target, you play a different game altogether.

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Nobody likes sporks. Is your product a bad mashup?

The spork is a creative invention. The only problem: Nobody likes using sporks.

Sure, they’re convenient, but they’re not as good as normal forks. And they’re too scratchy to be a spoon.

Even if a spork functioned perfectly, the experience feels like a compromise.

You might see your idea as a creative mash-up, but your customer sees an underwhelming product that tries to do too much. If you’re promising convenience, make sure your customer prioritizes that enough to choose your product.

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Inception is real. Here’s how to plant your ideas.

In the movie Inception, the characters debate whether it’s possible to plant ideas in people’s heads.

Can you make them think YOUR idea was THEIR idea to begin with? 🤔

LOL. Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows the answer is YES.

Inception is 80% of what “leadership without authority” is. Lao Tzu said it best: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

All those times your manager agreed to your idea because they thought it was their idea? That was inception.

Now that we agree inception is real, be mindful of the ideas you’re planting. Why? Because the issues you shine attention on will influence what your audience thinks about. And ultimately, whether they agree to your idea.

What you spend time on gets aggrandized--which means you might accidentally turn a non-issue into an issue.

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Start right before you get eaten by the bear: Why you should cut out backstory

I’ve been in 30 minute meetings where 25 minutes was spent on backstory. Long, winding explanation--all in the name of "giving context." I've been guilty of it myself.

This is a losing situation for both sides: If you’re giving so much backstory, it’s less time for you to get advice or feedback. If you’re listening to the backstory, you probably already zoned out.

Cut back on as much backstory as possible. You’d be surprised how little you need to dive into a conversation.

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