This series is about my insights from our comic book project “Biz4Kids” and what we can learn from this for our business career.
In the first part of the series, I wrote about why you need to master your craft to succeed. Now I’m trying to enlighten the idea of really knowing your customer.
A customer is not always someone who buys from us. A customer might be someone who just uses what we do, and somebody else bought it for him. A customer might be someone who is an influencer for us and therefore, could spread our word. And a customer is, of course, the one who buys our products.
In the case of our comic book project, we have customers who buy the comic book – most likely parents or teachers. And we have customers who will be users – the kids who will read and enjoy the comic.
The unique thing about our paying customers is that to this point, they are all from Kickstarter. After running a very successful campaign with 131% funding, we have had all of a sudden many expecting customers.
The insights we got during the process are profound and simple.
You can’t overcommunicate.
We thought we would write a lot about our process and share all we could. But very quickly we realized two things. First people started to complain to be left unsure about the process, and second, even people who invested a lot of money to become co-creators did not participate in the co-creation process.
How could that be? With me and especially with Alex Osterwalder we had a project team that should be likely one that people would love to interact with. But they weren’t as active as we thought.
For both – co-creators and regular customers – it’s the same thing happening. They have their own life, with their personal obligations and their own deadlines to hit. They have a full inbox and multiple streams of information pushed to them like anybody else. So even if we thought we’ve done enough to inform everybody, not everybody thought they’ve been informed adequately.
We learned that we needed to overcommunicate to our customers. Talking and writing about our process and thoughts way more often and in more detail. It felt like too much. And at this point, people stopped complaining and said: “Thank you.” They finally had the feeling of being integrated and informed.
What can you learn from this for your business? When it comes to transparency with your customers - you can’t communicate too much. I’d even say if you write so often about what’s happening and what they can expect and when that you feel “This is annoying. They will ask me to stop sending them anything anymore” then you are in the right way. In this case, you can’t overcommunicate – of course as long as your information is adding value without b****hit.
Understand your user.
Your user is critical, especially after delivery. For our comic book, we established multiple levels of tests and proof-steps to ensure we’re creating the best possible comic book for our readers - the kids! Because when it’s fun for the kids, the parents will like it too. Not the other way around.
To ensure that our story works and the comic is engaging and fun to read as well as the learning parts are understandable, we used lots of different proofreaders and testers.
1. Alex and my kids as first proofreaders
2. Alex nephew and nice
3. My team
4. Multiple families with kids in the right age
6. Native English Editor
7. The network of ~100 co-creators
8. Workshops with real kids
The first 7 are more or less all people who read the stories and gave feedback on understanding, enjoyment, and visual design.
But especially the group of co-creators is interesting for you as a business leader. Who could help you get better in what you do? Who could be interested in developing the ideas you have further?
Co-creators have a shared motivation to get things done with you together. They can be your sounding board. They are like the first reader of your book. Bringing ideas to the table you would not have. Seeing flaws you didn’t imagine would exist. And last but not least they will be fans of your work, spread the word and help you get your message out there.
The workshops with the kids, on the other hand, are a crucial element for Biz4Kids primarily to ensure the learning part is working in combination with the comic story. Imagine a bunch of kids. A group between 20-60 of them.
We tell them the story of the comic, panel by panel like in a theatre. And then we play with them, build stuff and try to sell it. Understanding the Business Model Canvas and how a business really works.
By doing so, we’re exposing ourselves to our users. It’s an invaluable process to gain insights directly from our users. We get so much feedback explicitly and implicitly. Does the story work? Do they laugh? Do they interact with the material? Do they follow the course of the workshop?
These and more questions are on our mind while performing for them. It’s the best crowd you can get to get feedback. The ones who use your product or service later on.
When you think of your own business, how often do you get users or customer involved with your work? You could invite well-known customers to test your solutions by offering workshops or keynotes for free or low invest. Make it easy for them to say yes. Get them to participate and be creative to lure them in. You want to test your ideas and solutions with them. As they are most likely the best crowd you can have.
This will not only help you to improve your product. It will help you with your marketing efforts as they are potential first customers. And it will help you master your craft even better. Because the feedback you will get will help you do a better job next time.
If you missed Part 1/3 of this series, just read it here. And stay tuned for the last part, which will cover "Go for the long run" and how to set yourself up with enough stamina!
Holger is writing about his thoughts on how to create strategic clarity with visual tools. Especially with a focus on how we can work better together to solve our business challenges. As a Strategy Facilitator, he helps teams and leaders solving their strategic problems.
In his workshops and training, he has taught his approach to thousands of people. If you're interested, check out the next dates for his workshops or reach out to him directly.
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