My 10-year-old daughter (M) and her 11-year-old best friend (K) want to start a business. (They’re both Shark Tank fans). They decided the best idea was a party-planning business.
So the two got the parental units to give advice. K’s dad is in finance and mom is in real estate sales and, of course, M’s dad is in marketing – so they had a decent team of advisors to start.
They met with finance and sales to figure out budgets and how they could leverage (“take advantage of” were their words) the video marketing that K’s mom was doing. Then they scheduled a meeting with me to talk about marketing.
My daughter knows I help other businesses get their name out, but that’s about as deep as our conversation about “marketing” has ever gone. So M and K scheduled a meeting with me to discuss marketing. And they opened the meeting with the question, “So what can you do for us?” (… out of the mouth of babes).
In many ways, this meeting felt like several others I’ve had with established businesses that have gotten where they are through connections and the luck of having the wind at their back (plus attention to detail and delivery by the owner).
We started at the beginning. I asked, “Who’s going to want to buy your party-planning service?” Their answer: “Anybody having a party.” Wrong answer. We talked it through until we decided that they were well-suited to helping parents of kids ages four to nine plan and run birthday parties for the kids. In this “segment,” the parents are so busy both entertaining the parents of guests and making sure all the kids have fun that it’s a ton of work and they don’t enjoy the party. (I speak from deep experience here.)
We talked about helping plan the party theme and decorations, choosing games to keep kids entertained, and how that would help the parents because kids are good at keeping other kids entertained.
Then I asked them if they’d named their company; they said they’d talked about using their initials but hadn’t made up their minds yet. So we talked about why it would good for others to hire them. What did they think was unique or different about them? As we talked, an actual name resulted from the conversation (and the URL was available – very important). We also brainstormed ideas for the logo.
Next was pricing. They thought they should charge one price for the planning and then it would be an additional cost if the parents wanted them to stay and help during the party. We debated whether the fact that they were staying and helping was maybe the most important part. In the end, we agreed that planning and staying to make it all go well was the package.
So, they thought they had it all figured out – until I told them to validate the idea and the plan. I sent them to talk to two neighbors who have kids in the age range we discussed … and sure enough, not only was it a good idea, they got feedback for two other parts of the services that could be important: taking pictures (since parents are always busy and forget to) and staying to help clean up.
In 45 minutes, my daughter and her best friend managed to:
- Narrow their target market
- Package their services
- Find and validate a difference that was meaningful to their market
- Do basic branding
It comes down to knowing which questions to ask and answer.
Just imagine what we can do for your business.