I’m back with another way to recession-proof your business! And I’m excited to jump into this one because a few of you reached out and said, “ I want to create clone worthy clients. I’m open to the thought of peeling back who I could serve really well, even if given a recession.” 

I explored this idea of Cloneworthy Clients in the Serial Entrepreneur Podcast, in our Recession Proof Series: How to Create Cloneworthy Clients.

Now we’re digging in deeper. You’re on board with the idea that cloneworthy clients are key to recession-proofing your business. 

So what’s the next step to understanding them? 

When we connect with our cloneworthy clients, we have an opportunity to understand what motivates and inspires them. Then we can help them specifically with what they need. 

I’m going to give you 5 Questions straight out of the SmartCookie book on what I ask when I’m doing market research for other clients. We explored this in Ep 32 of The Serial Entrepreneur Podcast: Recession Proof: 5 Questions to Ask Your Cloneworthy Clients

Consider this your handy-dandy cheatsheet. 

When we’re working on your messaging map or a website, we always want to dig into who your clients are. And to understand who your clients are, you want to hear directly from your favorite customers, the ones that you’ve identified as Cloneworthy Clients. You’re calling those on your Standing List. I usually have a standing list of five to ten that fall into the category of “People Who Are My Favorites”.

Before we get to the questions, I want you to know that you’re going to get them on the phone. You’re not emailing these questions, it’s not a survey, you want to get the client on the phone

AND, I can’t overemphasize this enough: this is not you requesting a review of your services.

The goal here is to understand where they’re coming from. You don’t want to tell them, “Hey, I’m trying to find more customers just like you”, because then they’re going to tell you what they think other customers want. 

You want to understand: What is it that makes them tick? 

Here are the questions, but as they say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As I turn these over to you, you’ve heard my disclaimers. Just use these questions exactly as they are. 

Question 1: Who are you in the world?

What nouns or adjectives do you call yourself?

First question out of the gate seems super easy, except your customer is going to get stumped, because they’re thinking about their relationship with you. 

Some follow up that might help: “Susie, you might be a mom and I want to know that word. You might be a coffee lover. I want to know that maybe you’re a true crime fan. Tell me what words like that you’d use to describe yourself.” 

Does she call herself a business owner? A biker chick? Type A? 

You can tell your customer why you want to know, too: You want to understand them more fully, more than just this one side of being a customer of yours.

If your client or customer is at a loss, even after listing options, just write down what they do say. Remember this is a conversation, get them chatting. List out several things you think, based on the age and group identity of the person you’re talking to.

For example, when I talk to an older group, I definitely use the word grandparent. When I’m talking to a super young group, I’m not mentioning the word grandparent. 

I love this question, because inevitably you’re going to have a moment of rapport to build with them. And that’s always a lot of fun. 

Got that down? How do they describe themselves? Write down the keywords. Okay, onto #2.

Question 2: What are your life circumstances right now?

What you’re trying to understand: Are they married? Are they single? Are they building a business? Buying a house? Are they starting something new? Maybe it’s a workout plan. Maybe they’re starting to look for a new job. 

Let them ramble.

Let them flesh it out for you. Don’t cut them off. If they explore something about their home, and you have a home-based business, lean into that connection. Home life is really, really special, right? It’s the most intimate place that someone is going to share from. 

At this point, you can connect with them, “You mentioned your home. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? How long have you been there?” 

Try to understand a bit about home life. Get them to open up about that. It becomes a natural jumping off point, particularly if you have a home product. And even if you don’t,  home life is a really special place to understand how somebody thinks, and what their motivations and perspectives are.

Feel solid with that one? What is their life like right now? Great! Onto #3

Question 3: What problems do you type into Google or YouTube, looking for the solution?

This can be about work, home or family, and it doesn’t need to relate to your business. You can pull on this thread further, of course. A follow up could be, “Do you remember what you might’ve searched to find me?”

You’re trying to understand what your client or customer is searching for, and how they’re searching for it. They might even tell you they don’t use Google or YouTube, but go to Pinterest first. If they’re a pinner, that might tell you that your type of person is a pinner too.

Pay extra attention to any type of verb or action item. Are they someone that’s often looking for vacation destinations, or camping gear? I bet you, that person might be someone who’s pretty ambitious in the world.

And that’ll give you a little insight: They like to play hard and they like to work hard

Maybe they bring up Reddit. Folks who use Reddit tend to be very techie in nature. And that’s going to tell you something about your perfect person. Again, let them ramble here. Write great notes, and record it if you can. There’s something about writing the notes as they share it, or when they get excited about sharing, that is powerful. Even after you’ve recorded it, you can play it back and jot those notes down. Something may come alive to you. That’s your sweet spot.

So, you understand more about the keywords they use to describe themselves, you’ve heard what their life circumstances are like, and now you know how they use the internet (or elsewhere, like word of mouth) to find answers. 

Well, this next question is everything.

Question 4: What things in life are most important to you?

Question #4 could be *the thing* that opens up your marketing entirely. 

What is something that you just can’t live without? 

These can be fun answers, they can be serious answers. It could be family, it could be coffee, it could be gardening, or vacations. 

I say this one could change your marketing because it may become obvious to you that they’re a coffee lover, or that they’re really into yoga. And you might not have realized that’s what’s tying them to everything else.

They might tell you, “You know what, the one thing that really matters is that my kiddos are okay.” This is not only relatable for many of us, but could be a really fun and interesting way to open up your marketing. 

Let’s say you sell an apple. It’s not always just about the apple and the 101 ways you can eat that. Sometimes it’s about avoiding the doctor’s office. Sometimes it’s about nutrition on the go. You just never know! Until you ask.

I want you to be thinking when you ask this question, “What are the themes that more and more of my cloneworthy clients are saying to me.”

Now you’re really beginning to understand your customer or client, and you’re in the thick of engaged conversation. 

#5 gets you to the heart of your relationship.

Question 5: What was it like working with our company? BUT!! Tell me like you would describe it to a close friend.

Now it’s time to access their inner voice. It’s always something I want my clients to be thinking about: get out of your head and into theirs. 

How would they describe their experience with you, to a close friend?

You know, the friend that they really like, not the friend that they kind-of-sort-of put up with but generally avoid. You want to understand how they would chat with their close friends about working with you, and what you provide.

We need to focus on how they would tell somebody else, “Well, I love the product because it solved this problem, and it was such a pain, and I was so frustrated trying to find the product because it wasn’t here, here, or here.” 

And that’s the gold. 

You hear that? They’re going to tell you, “It took so long for me to find you.” 

That’s marketing. 

They’re going to tell you the places they were looking, but couldn’t find you. Now you know where your product/service isn’t.

They’re going to tell you how relieved they were to find you, because you were in the place that they needed to find you. Let’s double down on that. 

And then they’re going to tell their best buddy, their close friend, their close neighbor what it’s like now that they have the thing you offer. 

Now, they can share the customer service story. Again, never cut them off, it’s not a race by any means. Let them share, knowing the more they share, the more you’re going to understand them. Just make sure you still pivot and turn the conversation to what it was like trying to find you.

You can ask, What was it like when you did find us and you were comparison shopping?” 

Let them know that there are no hurt feelings here, you just want to understand what it was like.

It can be really helpful to use a third party for this, so that the customer or client doesn’t get caught up in the relationship, and can share more freely. You can also ask somebody on your team, who isn’t you, to ask these questions. 

What’s key here is not taking offense to what they say, no matter what it is. You just want to understand them, and their perspective. We’re not taking this information personally, we want to learn and grow, yes?

Wrapping it All Up

I’m going to wrap it up right here by saying these questions are to help you find themes. If you ask two clients these questions, that’s not going to cut it. 

You’re going to need to ask seven or more. I’d love it if you eventually report back to me that you asked 100 clients over the course of the year these questions. Maybe you find 50 themes doing so. That’s great!

AND, you’re going to find some themes between 7 to 10. So at least aim for seven, then build from there. Honestly, you might get addicted. You might find your inner marketer, your little inner Nicole voice speaking to you through these. 

And I’m excited when you do. 

Let me know how this goes for you! I want to hear your wins, your challenges, what you learn along the way. 

Thank you so much for including me in part of your day today. I hope that it brings you tons of leads, tons of productivity, and tons of efficiencies. 

But whatever you’re up to today, make it great.