In this letter:
  • 4 indicators that a new business direction is working (or not)
  • the “first tiny sign” concept, and what Kelly Parkinson taught me about the art of genuine persuasion
  • the thing we’re actually selling that is nowhere on our website
  • my calendar link, if you’re in a role responsible for growth in your organization and would like to say hi and/or answer some interview questions for my Gather the People research

Hey everyone,

I’m feeling really encouraged as I write this today. It’s been 91 days since we publicly committed to our new direction and started setting up systems to apply the customer relationship framework we use with our clients (one I’ve developed and used in past client work for 15 years). We’re starting to see tiny signs that it’s working, which is very exciting to me.

Even though growth through building strong, collaborative customer relationships takes patience and commitment to the long view, there are short-term indicators that let you know you’re on the right path (“right” being the path that aligns with your customer’s needs as well as your team’s strengths and resources.) 

I’ve pivoted so many times in businesses I’ve owned, and between my past work and the work we’ve done at &yet, we’ve helped over 100 clients imagine, build, gather people, and ultimately reach their goals around their new endeavors. Over and over again I’ve learned to depend on a few clues that indicate that a new direction has legs:
  • within 30-60 days of announcing it and talking about it in a collaborative, customer-focused way, you should start to hear from some customers about how they feel and are impacted by it
  • within 60-90 days, you should start to get unsolicited questions about what you’re offering
  • within 90-120 days, you should be closing new, unsolicited business
  • from there, it’s a matter of building on what you’ve started and iterating based on what you learn from your customers
That sounds simplistic, but it’s always risky to commit yourself in a single direction, and there’s a ton of foundational work that goes into setting yourself up to be able to see those indicators. And of course, sometimes you won’t see them. Sometimes your new direction isn’t in alignment, and you begin again.

• • •

The “first tiny sign that it's working” concept is one I learned years ago from my copywriting hero Kelly Parkinson. Although, to my knowledge, she no longer works in that space, I’m indebted to her for teaching me the art of genuine persuasion.

She taught me that even though it’s great to talk about the ultimate outcome you want for your customers, what is really going to make the difference for them is being able to anticipate that first tiny sign. Whether it’s “within an hour, you will be able to read the menu of an authentic Italian restaurant” or “within two weeks, you’ll be able to interpret data from 10 customer interviews”, focusing on the next small victory is the surest way to help people believe you can get them where they want to go (and to actually help them get there, which is the most important part).

• • •

It’s funny that the service we’ve actually been selling isn’t even one we have on our website. It's called a cold read assessment, where we have a team of strategy, UX, design, and/or dev experts look at your problems, goals, future plans, brand assets, customers, competition, inbound and outbound marketing systems, sales systems, and metrics that are meaningful to your organization. We then give you a “cold read” report on what we see from as objective a perspective as possible. After we deliver that, we have a conversation and listen to how that aligns with what you see. We then flesh out the report to give a more complete view, including our observations on your greatest opportunities and priorities for growth in reaching your goals. After that, we help you actually implement them.

The reason this is so funny to me is that the process of selling a new offering always seems to happen this way. We launch with something we think is going to be the right solution, but when we get to talking to folks, the needs are different and we adjust. We learn way faster than we can implement. Sometimes it takes a while for the website to catch up.

• • •

I’ve had some great conversations with a few of you over the past week about similar experiences you’re having and ways you’re approaching growth in a customer-focused way. If you’re in a role responsible for growth in your organization, I’d love to interview you as research for the upcoming (completely revised) edition of Gather the People. Here's my calendar to set up a time.

As always, if you need help with this stuff and have questions about our approach to building strong customer relationships through creative technology, just reply back.


Sarah Avenir
CEO, &yet