If you’re a Friends fan like I am, any mention of the word ‘lobster’ immediately conjures up images of Phoebe Buffay. In one episode during the second season of the TV show, Phoebe shared her theory about lobsters which—according to her at least—mate for life.
She then proceeded to demonstrate how two lobsters, who find each other in blissful lobster love, walk together on the sea bed holding ‘hands.’
Phoebe used lobsters to explain the connection shared by Ross and Rachel, who had circled each other for years. Like lobsters, which mate for life, they were simply meant to be. Phoebe turned out to be spot-on regarding Ross and Rachel. But, as it turns out, her lobster theory doesn’t hold up so well.
I hate to break it to you, Friends fans, but lobsters don’t mate for life. They share a monogamous bond, but it only lasts for about two weeks. Still, lobsters do remain a powerful symbol and metaphor for those special, elusive people whom you wish to attract—and hold on to.
Whether in love or in business, we each have our ‘lobsters,’ which are the reasons we do what we do and who we do it for. Hunting lobsters is one of my favorite things to do, both figuratively and literally!
It’s exciting. It’s adventurous and a little dangerous. It makes me feel alive.
I live in California, where I love going diving for lobsters. West Coast lobsters are rather spiny creatures that don’t have pinchers or ‘claws’ like those found on the East Coast. In fact, they are called California Spiny Lobsters. Sadly, Friends fans, this pokes another hole in Phoebe’s lobster theory. Lobsters don’t hold hands, either, even if they have them.
Hunting for these spiny sea creatures has taught me some valuable lessons—for land and sea. When it comes to business, we each have our own ‘lobsters’— our ideal customer with whom we know we can form a meaningful connection. Like with real-life lobsters, attracting and acquiring your ideal customers can be a little tricky.
Here are three things that you can learn about finding the right customer that I have learned while trying to find lobster 10-20 feet underwater. I hope they help you in your approach to getting the clients that you want and deserve!
1. Timing is Everything
The first lesson I’ve learned is that timing is everything.
Lobsters are nocturnal and come out at night. If you’re in the water trying to catch lobsters during the day, you may very well spot them back in the cave – but it’s very hard to grab them.
For lobsters, their day starts at night, and that is when they come out of the caves to look for food and socialize. For your customers, it may be at 2:30 in the morning when they wake up, stressed out because they have a problem they need to solve.
Being available to respond, answer questions, or provide solutions to your customers at the right time is key. If you look at when people need your service, your coaching, or your help, it’s because they have a certain problem that you can solve.
How do you get the timing just right, to ensure you are an available option as a solution precisely when somebody has the problem?
To achieve this, make sure you are creating constant content online.
So you will see me Tweet my thoughts throughout the day, and you will also see me Tweeting examples of my speaking.
You don’t have to be on all platforms, but you do have to create content.
For you, the content could come in the form of tweets, blogs, videos or various other forms.
Whatever you choose, timing is everything.
The ‘lobsters’ you’re trying to find maybe around the clock, 24/7. This doesn’t mean, however, that you must post around the clock. It simply means your content needs to be out there and available, at any given time.
This is why it’s important to have things like a website, a blog, and various places where your content lives, 24/7. This is where you can put your answers and your solutions to the problems people are having so that they can find you at the right time – for them.
If you don’t have a website yet, consider it a 24/7 digital storefront for people to find you when they need you the most!
2. You Can See It and Still Not Get It
The second lesson and parallel between hunting lobsters and acquiring customers are that just because you see them doesn’t mean that you’re going to get them.
If you think to yourself, “Well, my customers are online, they are on social media, they’re on this one specific platform” and that means you’re going to get them – think again.
The reality is that there are billions of people who are leveraging social media on a constant basis. They’re present, active and engaging their audience on possibly multiple networks. Looking at the entire world, at all of the oceans, and saying, “I know there’s lobster in there somewhere” is just the beginning.
You have to figure out where exactly you’re going to go diving and understand that your service may not be for everyone. You cannot service billions of people, nor should you want to! I don’t know how many lobsters there are, but I know for sure there is no way that I can set out to get them all and grab them all.
It is key you understand the market that you serve. Not the market potential, but your target market. Think of those core target customers, whom you actually want to get and grab. It doesn’t mean everyone or anyone. In fact, I often share that if your product or service is for everyone or anyone, then it really is for no one!
No one wants to hire a generalist. They want a specialist. And if you cater to everyone or anyone, you don’t look like a specialist.
Like with lobsters, spotting someone online who looks like your target customer does not mean you’re going to get them. You may manage to get close and connect to a potential customer, through your content, or by messaging and talking with them. Heck, your content might really connect with them and ‘grab’ them – but they still might get away.
The more you prepare yourself for customer acquisition that is realistic, the more you can choose the right beaches, and the right time, to make sure that you get in front of the right customers.
Not all customers are created equally. You must find the right customers for you and your business.
The best way to achieve this is to narrow down those targets that you’re looking for. Narrow down the type of lobster/customer that you’re after. For me, the ideal ‘lobster’ is an executive of a high growth company that wants to not only build his or her personal brand but wants to empower their employees to do the same … what’s yours?
3. Double Check How You Keep Your Lobsters
The third lesson I’ve learned is to make sure that your bag is zipped.
Now, when I say bag, I’m really talking about a game bag. This is a type of bag divers carry with them underwater so that once they do find and grab their lobster, they can safely store it.
I recall a time I went on a beach dive with my buddy off of Dana Point, in Southern California.
We set out at night to catch our lobsters, knowing that’s when we would have the best chances.
Armed with lighting to help us find our way, we ended up having a great hunt. We saw a bunch and managed to grab a few really big lobsters. As we were coming back into the beach, we found ourselves fighting the waves to make it safely back to shore.
When a big wave would approach us, whoever saw it first is supposed to yell out ‘Wave!’
Then the other person can look out for it and get prepared.
This time, however, I heard not “Wave!,” but a big, gut-curdling scream, “NoooooooOoOOoo!”
Immediately, I feared my buddy got hurt. I shouted in the darkness to find out what was wrong.
He then shouted, “They all got away!” And when I shined my dive light on him, I saw that he was holding up his game bag, and it was totally empty.
His game bag (where he puts lobsters that he catches) had a zipper on the end of it. The problem is that he forgot to check if it was zipped before we got in the ocean.
As a result every single lobster that he grabbed a lobster and put in the bag, it went right out the other end.
I was laughing so hard, but he was not so happy!
The valuable lesson here applies to both lobsters and customers: always have a bag ready, and always make sure it’s sealed properly.
When you set out to acquire new customers, it’s pretty important to ask yourself: Do I have a game bag at the ready? And is my bag sealed shut?
You could be giving an amazing talk at a conference, which has people coming up to shake your hand after your talk, all telling you how it deeply resonated with them. You then get home only to realize you forgot to add a slide with a call to action.
You didn’t offer them something special or tell them about your podcast.
Essentially, you never gave them a call to action, or a clear path to get in touch with you.
Instead, you just let them walk away. Just like my buddy had his lobsters swim right out of the unzipped bag. It takes so much of your time and effort to get your customers, so make sure that you don’t lose them!
Oftentimes, we may find ourselves at the moment so excited about being in the moment that we forget what it was we set out to achieve. We either don’t bring the right type of ‘bag’ to capture people’s attention, or lack a clear and significant followup process for them.
I’ve learned this the hard way. I’ve given tons of talks, after which I have found myself scratching my head wondering, “Gosh, how did I forget to give them an opportunity to take that next step?”
Whether in the form of a survey, texting to get more information, opt in to a funnel, an email campaign that you’ve prepared for attendees, your newsletter, or simply having a landing page for people to visit, get your bag ready.
The key here is in having the right ‘bag’ prepared and use it for capturing the moment and building relationships with your customers. Don’t put in all that effort, to simply let them get away!
In conclusion, the next time you see me tweeting about going lobster hunting, or when you set out to go hunting for your version of “lobsters” – literally or figuratively, these lessons are worth keeping in mind.
Whether you’re thinking about your customer acquisition strategy or the next time you eat lobster or the next time you’re thinking about your customer acquisition strategy while you eat lobster, don’t forget:
1 – Timing is everything. In today’s day and age, in order to be in front of your customers when the time is right, you must have content available to suit their needs and consume. Customers are out there. And they are searching for you, too. You just have to create the content for them to find!
2 – Just because you can see them doesn’t mean that you can get them. Not every lobster/customer you see is the right one. They need to be the right fit for your business and the right customer for you.
3 – Have the means to hold on to your ‘lobster’s and not to let them slip away. What is something you could do to make sure that, when you find the right customer and you bring them into your community, you don’t lose them without even knowing? Are you maintaining and growing an email list? Are you creating lists on Twitter? Are you building a Facebook group?
I hope you take this underwater knowledge, bring it to the shore, and have it help you find and hold onto your ideal ‘lobsters.’
And always remember that your customers are unique, valuable people, who are in some way looking for you, too.
When you focus on acquiring not merely any customers, or more customers, but the right kind of customers for you and your business, you can partner together and stay together (no matter what Phoebe Buffay says!).
Ryan Foland is a high energy speaker, podcast host, and consultant who teaches executives how to build their personal brands. His 3-1-3® Method uncovers core brand messaging to guide bespoke content marketing strategies. Ryan has given 4 TEDx talks and has been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, and more. His award-winning book, Ditch the Act, teaches you how to get ahead in business by simply being human. For fun, Ryan sails, draws stick figures, and raps. Learn more at https://ryan.online