Signs You’re Stuck In Your Customer Comfort Zone
Are you blocking your business’ growth by choosing customers you’re comfortable selling to?
Building a business is an intense act of vulnerability, so it’s no surprise that the additional step of moving out of your customer comfort zone feels like a layer of uneasiness you’d like to avoid.
To me, a customer comfort zone is a style of customer acquisition that feels comfortable because of its predictability and ease. Customer comfort zones include congregating family and friends as the majority of your customer base, heavily relying on referrals from said friends and family, and leaning on these channels to feed your business’ sales for the foreseeable future.
You eventually run out of friends and family to sell to and get forced out of your comfort zone. You’re left to face what it’s like to step out of your comfort zone and to find new customers who may be complete strangers to you.
Whether you see the end of your customer comfort tunnel quickly approaching, or you’re realizing that you’ll inevitably be pushed out of your comfort zone as your business grows, here are some signs that your business is in a customer comfort zone and what to do about it.
Most of your customers are friends and family
Friends and family are wonderful to sell to because they already know and trust you, are (likely) loyal to your brand, and will tell their friends and family about your brand for free. Brand trust, loyalty, and referral marketing are important milestones that brands spend a lot of money and time on to earn from their audience.
When you already have this locked down, it makes sense that you want to skip the stress of trying to earn these from strangers if you don’t have to. The rub here though is that it’s not a matter of if, but when you’ll run out of friends and family to sell to — as you grow and face customer attrition, it’s inevitable that you will have to replenish your customer pool with new people in order to stay in business.
To get ahead of this, you should start taking the steps to court new customers outside of your friends and family network. If a substantial chunk of your business’ revenue, >50% of your sales comes from friends and family, it’s time to start weaving in an audience-building strategy to find, connect with, and sell to new potential customers.
To learn more about audience-building, read my step-by-step guide here.
You don’t know how to introduce yourself to new people
If you’ve heavily relied on the friends and family card, you may be out of practice on how to actually pitch your business to people you don’t know. You may have tried to pitch your business to strangers before and were disappointed by the lack of traction there (which is probably why you continued to tap into your friends and family pool).
When pitching your business to those that are not linked to you in some way, your sales conversion rate is going to plummet from double digits to a single digit, (which is completely normal). You will no longer have the pull of history and reputation as you did with family and friends to pull an immediate yes.
As a result, you will have to think about your brand’s messaging very seriously, because how you communicate your brand externally will be what shoppers take at face value. If they see that you’re the brand for them, they’ll immediately latch on. If they don’t get your brand or feel that you’re not for them, they’ll forget you. You mostly won’t have a second chance to explain yourself like you would with friends or family, who usually show up even if your pitch sucks. If you miscommunicate who you are without clarity, your target customer won’t show.
To craft an enticing pitch to attract your target customer, start off by nailing down the characteristics that make you unique in comparison to your competitors and use that to be “known” for something. Are you the Warby Parker of sneakers? The Instacart for premium K-beauty products?
Shoppers who are actively looking to buy your product/service do so while looking at numerous competing options at once. They don’t want to know that you’re doing the same things as your competitors, they want to know what you’re the best at amongst your competitors (because that’s how they’re categorizing each competing option in their head). Start there and the rest of your brand messaging will follow.
You (unknowingly) reject growing
This is a big one if you’re stuck in your customer comfort zone — you reject all the customer acquisition moves your business would like to be doing and unknowingly create subjective objections or excuses for not prioritizing them.
Social media presence? Don’t want to do it because it’s too crowded on social platforms. Sales calls? It’s the last thing on my to-do list. Weekly emails? I don’t want to bother people on my list.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and breaking through another layer of vulnerability for the sake of your business is scary. I get it. It’s understandable why you avoid it and may unknowingly, create blocks for yourself in order to keep it out of the picture.
To demonstrate an example that may resonate with you — a common block I see business owners create for themselves is rejecting Instagram or email marketing to promote their business. These channels are commonly unloved because they require hard, consistent work and a premium strategy to keep it working well. They are hard channels to crack by yourself if you don’t have any experience mastering them.
Rarely do I hear someone reject one of these channels because of a solidly objective business reason. They usually reject them for subjective reasons of disinterest (which is totally fine as long as you have a solid replacement for what you reject).
Instead of outright rejecting certain strategies because they feel new, scary, and uncomfortable to you, asking yourself these questions to decipher whether your reluctance is objective or subjective to your fear is eye-opening:
- Are my competitors actively using this strategy and seemingly doing well with it?
- Is my reluctance to use this strategy a result of my assumption, or from expert advice and feedback?
I love writing thoughtful, personal Friday morning emails called The Crux to help entrepreneurs turn their startup chase into a victory lap. Join here to get my best musings in your inbox.