The Power of the dumb question

I was talking to a plumber the other day - he wanted to promote his bathroom makeover business to the more afluent in his local area, but was not sure how to reach them.  I asked him who his ideal customer was and his immediate answer was the better off - they wanted a premium product.  Fine, I said, but how many rich people need new bathrooms?  Simple sums - say they upgrade every 4 years and they spend 2 weeks researching before making a buying decision that means 1 in 100 - not great odds.  I tried again - who is your ideal customer?

"Someone who needs a new bathroom" 

- great we are getting somewhere, I thought, but persisted - "put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer - what are your circumstances and where would you hang out?"

He thought for a moment and came out with a creditable list of when people are likely to be shopping for his type of products and where they were likely to be looking, but also commented that his competitors were likely to be present there too.

- better and better I thought - "so we need to get deeper into the niche - among your happiest customers, what was it that made them buy from you?"

His answer surprised me - he knew exactly, which saved me a big step in the process.  Suddenly the lightbulb went on - "and I know exactly how to reach them - why didn't I think of it sooner?"

I shrugged knowingly - "that is the incredible power of the dumb question"

Banner image © Mark Neild 2013  Dolphin in Bay of islands New Zealand taken shortly before we went swimming with them.