CO.STARTERS Week 2: Get To Know Your Customers

A lesson in bringing the most value to your customer.

While last week’s session focused on knowing ourselves, this week focused entirely on knowing our customer. Through a series of exercises from CO.STARTERS’ coursework, we placed ourselves in the minds of our target customers. By empathizing with their lived experience, we were better able to shape our products and services to provide value to their lives.

GUEST SPEAKER: PATRICK MINEER OF GOLDEN PATH SOLUTIONS, LLC

Nearly every week of the CO.STARTERS’ nine-week program involves a guest speaker sharing from their experiences as an entrepreneur. This week, we were delighted to welcome Patrick Mineer of Golden Path Solutions, LLC.

Patrick’s company, which helps high school students gain insights into their skills and ideal career paths, serves three unique customer segments: 

  1. Students are served through an extensive skills-evaluation process that helps them clarify their career prospects, and possibly land a future job in a company that will help pay for their education. 
  2. Companies are served by being provided a selection of talented, vetted students who will add value to their teams.
  3. Schools are served by having certain data collection requirements automated through Patrick’s student evaluation processes.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

In the earlier stages of his company’s development, Patrick subjected his ideas to dozens of prospective customers. Through the process of pitching his value propositions, he was able to gather accurate feedback about his assumptions.

Anytime a customer says, “No.” Be sure to ask why.

During one particular pitch, Patrick faced push-back from a school employee, questioning what value his product brought them specifically. In that instant, though his product did provide value to students and companies, he hadn’t clarified the value it brought to the school itself. This experience taught him the importance of knowing his audience and leading with how the product benefits them.

BECOMING AN EXPERT ON YOUR CUSTOMER

The more we thought about our customer’s needs and wants, the more we were able to accurately evaluate the value of our business/product. Here are some of the questions we asked ourselves to gain a clear picture of our target customers:

  • What pains does my customer have? 
  • What main challenges are they facing? 
  • How is my customer currently solving the problem I am aiming to address? 
  • Are current solutions doing the job as well as possible? 
  • What draws them to my product or service? 

These are just a few of the questions we wrestled with as we built a portrait of our customer(s). Consider posing these questions to prospective customers of your own, if you’re building out a business idea.

NEXT WEEK’S FOCUS — MARKETING: GETTING, KEEPING, & GROWING CUSTOMERS

Before we begin buying up Facebook ads or spending thousands of dollars on a website build-out we need to know who we’re doing it for. Once that’s established, then we get to dive into the fun of building our brand, messaging, and communicating our story. That’s what on the docket for next week.

Next Tuesday, we’re also looking forward to welcoming Ryan Keel as our guest speaker. Ryan is the owner and founder of CollegeSmart, a consulting company that helps students, and their parents, save on the cost of their higher education. Ryan is also a CO.STARTERS alum, so he’ll be able to share how the program helped him kick off his company.

INTERESTED IN BRINGING YOUR IDEA TO LIFE?

Though our Winter Cohort is off and running, we are accepting applicants for our Spring and Summer Cohorts on a rolling basis. Apply here.

Posted on January 24th, 2020 by Dane Johnson in Resources