Confusing Selfishness With Service

When I am creating a new product or service, my thought process is pretty simple, I ask two questions:

“Does this thing offer value and solve a problem for my customers?”


“Can I sell this successfully?”

That seems pretty self-evident but you’d be surprised how so many people make a mess of this for purely selfish reasons.

It’s not uncommon online to watch people sell the same product with minor variations over and over again to their audience.  They justify it by a variety of stupid rationalisations – breaking big things up into smaller pieces so it’s “easier to consume” or rehashing the same rubbish with minor variations so that it’s “more specific to people’s needs”.

These people are confusing their own selfishness with service.

In the short term, people like this would see a small increase in their bottom line because they were selling their established trust.  More often than not this trust is being sold for pennies on the dollar which is not only stupid but almost embarrassing when you consider how hard it is to build trust with an audience.

In the medium and long term, customers will spot selfish motives and not really judge you by the quality of your work, but by the selfishness of your approach – that’s when you’re in real trouble.

I think the primary motivation for offering something in your business is that it has to be beneficial to your audience and customers, not just what’s in it for you.

So how do I do this?

First of all, when I’m thinking of offering something to my customers, I ask myself simply: “How does this move them ahead in their journey?”  If whatever I’m selling doesn’t positively answer that question, then I stop right there.  It doesn’t matter how quick it would be for me to create the product or how easily I could sell it.  If it doesn’t serve people, I don’t do it.

Secondly, once I’ve satisfied the service question I work out if I can deliver the product or service in a way that is financially advantageous to me.  When I started looking into creating the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter, this almost stopped me in my tracks with this project.

I was looking at having the product printed, assembled and shipped by a printing company.  The problem was that to make it economically viable using that kind of fulfilment model, I needed to have over 100 subscribers, which I didn’t have to start with.  To be honest, I probably needed 250.  I also wanted to be able to charge $49 – $79 per month for the newsletter, but to be honest, I would have needed to charge more for that model to work properly.

It took me a few days to get past this but I figured out that we could get it printed professionally, do the fulfilment ourselves at a much cheaper price and up to about 100 subscribers it wouldn’t be that logistically difficult.  So we were able to make the logistics and economics work and still serve people at a price point we were happy with.  In fact, we now know we can probably do 250 subscribers per month ourselves, which makes the whole thing more viable and allows us to keep our costs lower.

The subtle lesson there is, the whole process started off with establishing whether the product I was offering was going to help people.  Once I was comfortable that the newsletter would hit the mark for my audience then I worked on the economics and logistics to see if the business stacked up for me personally.

If you’re worried about how much you’re going to make or scheming to figure out how you can make more from your customers without considering whether the offer will help them or not, then you’ve got a serious problem.

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