If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you’re going to need to check your ego at the door. This post is about that time that I did in fact believe the hype.
Several years ago I began including business coaching as an offering. I worked with a client, helping keep her on track with what she was trying to accomplish and helped her work through everything she needed in order to keep her both happy and successful. I began working with more and more clients that needed help staying on track.
At one point I decided that I wanted to document the process that I’d undertaken with that client into a book. Essentially I wanted the system I’d developed, which I felt very strongly about, to be accessible to people that couldn’t necessarily afford full-scale coaching.
So I started working on the book and, as is customary, I started promoting it on social. I was blown away by the response. So many people were telling me how excited that they were to read it. These were people that followed me, loved my content (or at least professed to), and supported me by way of encouragement.
But what happened when the wallets needed to open up?
I used Gumroad to release the book because it allowed me to inexpensively release the book digitally. My first novel I had gone with a vanity press and while I’d sold close to a thousand copies of that book, the process had been an absolute nightmare. This time around, I wanted things to be simple. I wanted to be able to fire off a tweet and say “the book is ready and you can buy it right here” and then just sit back and wait for the sales to roll in and that’s exactly what I did.
And I waited. And waited. And waited.
Now, in the end I did sell quite a few copies of the book and it continues to be available on Gumroad however something happened that I was not expecting. Those people? The ones who told me they were going to buy my book as soon as it became available? Yeah. They didn’t buy my book.
You see, the cool thing about using Gumroad for this was that it attaches a name and an email address to every user. When I started going through the customer list, it wasn’t my friends, the people who said YES, YES, YES, that were actually buying my book. It was people on the periphery.
Now there are lots of reasons not to buy my book. Maybe you really like physical books. Maybe you’re already incredibly organized and don’t need to get better. Maybe you just don’t want to, and that’s a perfectly acceptable answer. However, I was expecting certain people to buy my book and I was expecting certain people to push my book and that didn’t happen. I got great feedback, lots of people share it, but when it really came down to it, the people who said they were going to buy it, didn’t.
What does me writing an underperforming book have to do with what you’re doing?
Well are you taking people’s word for something? Are you planning your next big move around what people have told you?
The other day I was talking to someone who said that they had validated an idea by talking to followers online and “they all loved it”. People want to be nice to you and they don’t understand that this really lovely dishonesty is not helping you in the least.
So how can you validate an idea if you can’t trust what people say?
For starters don’t pitch everything as “would you buy a thing if I made a thing?” So many people are going to say yes because they like you and then when it comes time to purchase, they’re going to pass.
Instead, work with people to figure out what they need and want and figure out if you can deliver THAT thing to them. Maybe that means your product, but with a different pitch. Maybe that means your service, but at a different price point. Whatever the case may be, you need to do customer research differently. Asking your mom if she thinks you’re handsome isn’t customer research but that’s the level that many people are at when it comes to communicating with potential customers.
Now…if I wrote a book…would you buy it?