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What “Mission Impossible” Teaches Us About Knowing Our Market

When you're obsessed with something, you start to see reminders of it everywhere

You become a public speaker, and all of a sudden, you see illustrations to add to your next talk everywhere you go.

Or, you becomes obsessed with movies, and find a way to shoehorn a movie quote—or five—into every conversation. It’s as though everything you hear triggers a memory of something you saw on the silver screen.

The same thing happens to me with marketing. Now that I’ve been doing this for over ten years, my brain sees connections to marketing everywhere, even when I’m supposed to be relaxing.

For example, the other day I kicked back and watched one of the Mission Impossible movies, and something one of the characters talked about stuck out to me.

Everyone has pressure points. You find what’s important to him and you squeeze.

It reminded me of…  marketing! Yes, marketing isn’t quite the same thing as global espionage…  but everyone has pain points that reveal their deeper values, including customers.

For marketers, it reveals the motivation behind buying decisions. The marketer who learns how to serve people at the place of their biggest irritations gets to write their own paycheck.

As you budget your paychecks, make sure to put profit first. My recent guest Rocky Lalvani explains why, here.

Why You Should Put the Cart Before the Horse When Developing Products

Most people think you need an amazing product or extremely useful skill to succeed in business. They think you need some idea of what you’re going to sell before going to market. This puts the horse before the cart, which is what you'd normally do.

In this case, however, the “conventional wisdom” is backward.

To succeed in business, you should put the cart before the horse. The first step is “Market,” not “Product, Skill or Idea.” My FREE E-Guide called the “M.I.L.K. It Method” explains this in more depth. 

To put it briefly, “M” stands for “Market,” and “I” stands for “Idea.” The little-known secret is, putting “Idea” before “Market” dooms you to failure. 

In fact, 80% of startups die, most of them within their first year. Here’s what happens:

They start with an amazing idea. They invest time and energy into making it the absolute best. They spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours getting their website, logo, business card, and all the trappings of a business. Then they launch their product, expecting people to bust the door down. What happens instead?

Tumbleweeds and crickets.

You need to start the other way around. Find a white-hot, hungry market known for spending gobs of money. Then, it’s time for some Mission Impossible music to play while you spy out what they like, don’t like, hate, and love. Learn what causes them to break out their wallets.

Then, and ONLY then, do you develop products that answer their questions and solve their problems.

You see, “Everyone has pressure points.” You find out what’s important to them, and you sell.

We all wish we had a “Mission Control” earpiece giving us instructions, but that only happens in movies. However, you can get the next best thing by joining a mastermind group. My podcast episode with guest Aaron Walker explains the details.

How to Identify Pain Points, Mission Impossible Style

Welcome to the Impossible Missions Force. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify the biggest pain points of your hungry market, then sell a bajillion of whatever helps them feel better. Here’s the plan:

  1. Go Into Deep Cover

The first step is to assume the identity of your ideal customer. Do what they do. Go where they go. If you’re thinking about selling cat accessories, join a Facebook group for cat owners. Sign up for a webinar about taking care of cats. Join an online forum for cat enthusiasts.

Learn how to think the way they think, talk like they talk, and breathe how they breathe. You’ll begin to form an understanding of what motivates their purchases.

(Disclaimer: if you are allergic to cats, find a different hot, hungry market … and why would you want to go into a business that could kill you anyway?)

  1. Read The Person, Not The Question

Good espionage requires learning how to speak in code, discerning the hidden meaning beneath what people say. Spies always have a moment where they realize their phones are being tapped, so they switch to speaking in code. Because the audience understands the context, they know exactly what’s being said.

The same goes for your undercover work learning about your market. Your potential customers also speak in code. When people ask questions and utter complaints, look a layer deeper. What issues and needs do these questions expose?

If only someone could connect the dots, and come along with a solution…

  1. Learn How to Ask the Right Questions

Every Mission Impossible movie has a scene where someone gets interrogated. Usually, the interrogators make no progress with the first few questions. The captured villain exclaims, “Ha! As if I’m really going to reveal the location of the codes!”

Then somebody asks the right question, and the reaction on the villain's face reveals all.

Becoming a good marketer means not just listening to the questions and complaints of your market, but also learning to ask the right questions. 

For starters, open-ended questions are better than yes/no questions. Questions that start with “what,” “why,” and “how” let the customer fill in the blank instead of being led. Here are examples:

“What’s important to you in a cat toy?”

“Why did you buy the gray 33.5-inch cat scratching post?”

“What annoys you about owning a cat?”

  1. Save The Day

The most gratifying scenes in Mission Impossible are when Ethan Hunt shows up to save the day. He outsmarts and outworks the bad guys, with a little help from his friends.

You get to do the same thing when you develop your product and show it to your market.

If you’ve done the hard work of learning about them, their questions, and their pain, they’ll think of you as a godsend when you bring the solution.

There you have it, the formula you need to identify your market’s pain points and start selling like crazy. This blog post will self-destruct in 30 seconds.

Before then, make sure to click here to discover more secrets the so-called “gurus” won’t tell you about building a 7-figure business online.

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

1 comment on “What “Mission Impossible” Teaches Us About Knowing Our Market

  1. Robbie Walsh says:

    Great article! Really like the advice on read the person not the question. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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