How do you gain momentum? What does momentum mean in business?
When someone asks you what you do, what do you say? People tend to give a top-level answer. They say, “I'm a lawyer, a real estate agent, a fitness trainer”. And while that information is descriptive, it's also extremely vague.
It doesn't necessarily get clients to want to work with you right away and often they're not curious enough to ask for more information.
How do you avoid being vague? You do so with the power of subsets. Subsets allow you to be extremely precise and in turn make the client want to know more, thus increasing the chances of working with you. Best of all, creating a subset is easy. Time to figure out how to create a subset and use it to your advantage, eh?
Think about a five-year-old waiting for his birthday to arrive.
That's me. I'm still very much five in my brain; hence I don't tend to have just a birthday. Instead, I have a birth month. And last year, for my birth month, we did the usual. In November, we put up the Christmas tree, had a party, and then we went off for a week to Hokianga, in the north of New Zealand.
There was one big surprise.
The luxury lodge owner where we were staying knew of my birthday, and we were treated to a fancy dinner. And, of course, a cake. Imagine a cake almost as wide as a pizza and stacked eight inches high. It was lovely, of course, for someone to bake the cake. However, it was too much for the two of us.
Approximately, this is what happens when we're trying to attract clients as well.
The client is drawn by what we're saying. They like our ideas, our concepts, but then we give them too much. Not surprisingly, we lose the client. Hence, the idea itself is not enough. What you need is a subset.
A subset is a slice of the cake. It's a small, doable, consumable portion that the client can understand and implement.
Let's take an example. Let's take the topic of “marketing”.
If you tell a prospect he needs to improve his marketing, he gets the idea. He knows he has to promote his business somehow, but “marketing” is merely a concept. It's very vague.
What should he do first?
And more importantly, what should you do as someone who's selling the product or service? You know that you have to get the prospect to know that they should use your services, but the term “marketing” is too abstract.
When I started in marketing, I, too, was quite fuzzy about what I did.
I didn't know how to get the idea of “marketing across”. If I told people I was in marketing, they would nod their heads as though they understood—and they probably did. Yet, the abstract idea wasn't getting me any business.
Luckily I stumbled onto the “subset” quite by mistake.
I had just moved to New Zealand and was keen to network, both for work and make new friends. That led me to be curious about what others did for a living.
When I went to my networking meeting, I'd ask the person: what do you do? They would say something equally vague. e.g. I'm in real estate. Or “I'm a physical trainer”. That's probably as helpful as saying, “I'm a Martian”.
I understand the title, but I am unsure what to do next.
If my cousin wants to sell her house, should I send her to the real estate agent? And what if the agent is not into residential but commercial real estate? Or what if the agent was into residential but only operated on the North Shore?
So many questions lay unanswered. Most of all, however, was the vague answer I'd get from people I'd meet. What they needed was some clarity. Hence, after a few rounds of questions, I'd get to a point.
e.g. I sell houses to people who want polished taps.
What does that mean?
For one, a concept like that gets instant attention because it's a curious statement. On prying further, you realise that there are many types of buyers. Me, I'm a polished tap kind of guy. I have barely used a hammer in my life, and if you ask me to do any fixing around the house, well, I'll get to it in about 10 years.
Hence, if I'm the property buyer, I'm keen to purchase a shiny new house: no fixing, DIY, and certainly no patching up. And yes, that means that the taps will be gleaming too.
The real estate agent wasn't just a real estate agent any more. With my help, they had a line and then an explanation. In turn, I realised that I wasn't selling the vague, oversized concept of “marketing”. Instead, I was giving them a slice of the cake: a tiny subset. My job was to make their marketing statement clear and curious.
Small and doable is what makes the subset powerful.
Let's take another few subsets.
Main concept: Article writing
Subset: Writing headlines that are curious (without sounding like clickbait).
Main concept: Article writing
Subset: How to get engaging subsets when writing an article
Main concept: Article writing:
Subset: How to write a show-stopping “first line” for any article.
Main concept: Cartooning
Subset: How to draw a cartoon whale in just a few minutes
Main concept: Cooking Indian food
Subset: How to make a tasty dal in under 7 minutes
When the “slice of cake” is small, it's more tangible and easier to eat.
Every business is vague, and when we bring up the concept, we don't always understand why the client's eyes glaze over. However, when you chop the idea down to itty-bitty pieces, you immediately see their eyes light up.
Here are the steps:
You start with the broad, vague topic:
Step 1: I sell coffee
Step 2: I show how to tell premium from cheap beans instantly.
Step 3: You expand Step 2 to explain a little bit of the idea so that the client wants to know more.
By the time the client has gone to Step 3, they must want you to show them how to get to the next stage. You must have a system or training in the coffee example that demonstrates how to pick the most suitable coffee.
Your subset may be a free service or a paid one and will depend on your strategy. Sometimes you can do it to draw in the client. At other times, it's a big chunk of your business, and clients will expect to pay for it.
Can a subset be too small?
Usually, no. Drawing a cartoon whale takes a few minutes. However, the moment a client goes through that tiny subset, they want more. One cake slice, second cake slice and so on, if you know what I mean. It's the sheer size—or the lack of it—that makes the task doable.
How will you create your subset today?