Note: This was originally written as an assignment for the altMBA, which I completed this summer. I discovered that I enjoyed writing pieces like this at the same time that I began a long (and continuing) binge of nonfiction writing, so get ready for a new monthly feature: Book Club!
In July, I took myself on an executive retreat. It’s my twice-a-year solo trip to Palm Springs to read, plan, strategize, and work on my business away from doing the work of my business. This year, the first of the five books I read was The Transformational Consumer by Tara-Nicholle Nelson.
This thin hardback sat collecting dust for about a year. Once opened, I couldn’t put it down. I found it so relevant to my work and my clients’ work that it’s now completely warped from desert-melted glue and swimming pool splashes. C’est la vie.
Though it presents like a business book — Nelson talks about sales, product design, and competition, among other things — it’s really about the power of empathy and storytelling. I was already someone who champions empathetic, audience-focused marketing, but what makes her approach to these concepts so tremendously helpful is the way that they can be used to reframe our approach to understanding our audiences’ journeys.
Nelson defines a Transformational Consumer as individuals with an extreme growth mindset that is applied to many aspects of their lives. I myself am one, and it’s easy to assume that nearly everyone reading this can be categorized as a Transformational Consumer as well. We strive to expand our joy, health, wealth, and wisdom, which then pairs with our bias toward action to generate influence.
By Nelson’s data, 50% of U.S. consumers are Transformational. Her central thesis is that if we build our products and messaging around meeting the needs of the Transformational Consumer, we’ll earn deep loyalty as we help them to accomplish their goals.
Three ideas keep coming back to me when I’m lying awake at night imagining the tactical ways that this book will inform my practice:
- I’ll be better at marketing, selling, and delivering my services if I can clarify the patterns of resistance that prevent my customers from meeting their goals. Helping them overcome these patterns will inform the size, shape, and content of my services — to everyone’s benefit.
- Center my messaging on transformation by framing my clients as the protagonist in the hero’s journey, and myself as their guide. I will embrace the much-beloved Pixar storytelling formula in my approach to messaging.
- My competition is not those who provide similar services. My competition is anything that gets in the way of my clients meeting their goals. In my case, that means I don’t worry about online marketing courses, agencies, or other consultants. I worry about what prevents purpose-driven entrepreneurs from achieving consistent growth early in their endeavors.
It’s not about being the best at what I do, or even the best at selling it: Serving the Transformational Consumer means that my goals are to help them meet theirs. Guiding and empowering transformation for purpose-driven entrepreneurs is so much more exciting than being a marketing consultant, don’t you think? As the book’s subtitle declares: (I can) Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair with Your Customers by Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier, and Wiser.