The thing you have invented - it has to be better than the alternatives, it has to be different, it has to work so well that it turns one customer into two, then four, eight and so on.

But it also has to be packaged in a way that people recognize. That helps them overcome the fear of switching, the cost of making the wrong choice.

Because believing you are better isn’t enough. You also need to communicate why you are better in a way your customers are primed to hear.

Desire paths

A Desire Path refers to ‘traces of use or wear that indicate preferred methods of interaction’ - Universal Principles of Design

Desire paths (or desire lines) can be seen anywhere that humans and animals move. In urban design, they often show up as ad-hoc pathways formed between or around actual paths that are more efficient, in seeming defiance of authority.

It only takes one individual to choose the more direct route for the ground to become a little flatter, a little more worn, to indicate to others that this is a path they can also choose to take.

Often we set up pathways for our customers, only to find that they consistently choose a different route. At first, we might perceive it as willful disregard for the superior pathway we so meticulously created for them. A nonchalant attitude to our expertise and experience.

The challenge is to recognize when your clients repeatedly choose a new path and to meet them where they are. To zoom out and look for the patterns, for the desire lines. And accept these new paths as the democratically chosen way.

Adapt then improve upon them.

What do your clients really need?

What do your clients really need?

As a small business owner, I bet you spend countless hours thinking about the service you provide - what to name it, how to improve it, how to price it, how to promote it. All good and noble questions. 

Now consider how much time you spend thinking about your clients' problems. Like, really thinking about them. 

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