It was New Year’s Eve. I was in a tiny bar in Mexico, sitting at a cozy table by the fireplace, eating dinner, drinking margaritas and laughing with some good friends. Right across from us, the main bar was full of 19-year-old kids drinking and flirting and getting ready to get a little crazy. So we had dinner and a show.
There was one girl in particular you couldn’t help but notice. She was the birthday girl. I knew this because every 10 minutes she’d announce it to the whole bar. Loudly. Then she’d ask who was going to buy her a shot of tequila.
A guy at the end of the bar heard her and had a shot sent over. He seemed like a nice kid— he was a little chubby, a little awkward, a little eager to please, but you could tell that overall he was a pretty good guy. And man, he had googly eyes for the birthday girl in a major way.
After the bartender delivered her drink, he got up from his bar stool and walked over to her. He looked at her, smiling, expectantly. She looked at him…and told him he had shitty taste in booze. “This is rotgut.” she said. “I only drink good tequila.”
If at first you don’t succeed, try again
So he bought her a shot of good tequila. She threw it back, and without so much as a thank you got up and left the guy sitting there alone. She walked over and started flirting with his friend (a surfer with a killer smile and miles of game). When she needed another shot she went back to chat up the first kid, and he’d buy her another drink.
Every time he’d look hopeful that this time she’d notice how nice he was and sit down for a while. When the flower vendor came through he bought her a birthday rose. And a few more shots. She’d suck down her free booze and go right back to flirting with his friend.
The more he tried to convince her to sit with him for another free drink, or another compliment, or another rose, the more obvious it was that there was no way in hell this kid was getting her number, much less a midnight kiss. (In all probability she was going to end up smooching his surfer friend.).
She wasn’t interested in his good qualities; that he was kind, generous, and kicked ass at Mario Kart. She wasn’t buying what the kid was selling—and it was obvious she never would.
Watching this kid chasing after this girl made me think about the evolution of my brand strategy. A year and a half ago, if you’d asked me who my customers were, I would have told you “Anyone who needs a WordPress website”. I thought that my skill and passion for what I did could convince any client that WordPress is awesome. I mean, who wouldn’t love it?
I’ll tell you who didn’t like WordPress. That Guy. His business partner hired me to build a WordPress site for their soon-to-launch product. That Guy wasn’t going to be involved in the project. We had everything strategized and wireframed; we were ready to start development. And then That Guy called a meeting. He wanted to get involved in the project.
I hate WordPress
Those were the first words out of That Guy’s mouth. Since I’d been hired to build a WordPress site, his partner convinced That Guy to go ahead with the project so we didn’t have to start over. I decided that the site I built for That Guy would be so awesome that it would change his mind and he would fall madly in love with WordPress.
If he just gave it a chance, he’d see how great it is! Look at how much better your Google rankings are! Look how easy it is to build a landing page and update your own content! Look at how we can use plugins to build complex functionality!
Nothing I said or did or built changed his mind. He’d decided he hated WordPress. Nothing was going to change his mind.
He wasn’t buying what I was selling—and he never would.
That client was actually the kick in the ass I needed to work with a business coach. I needed to figure out how to stop working on projects that made everyone involved frustrated and miserable. My coach helped me come up with a lot of different ways to help me tell who’s interested in the qualities I’ll bring to our relationship, and who just isn’t that into me.
So I knew what that poor kid was going through
Nothing he ever did was going to get this girl to like him. As we were leaving the bar, I walked past the kid who was getting played. He stopped to wish us a (slightly drunk) “Happy New Year!” I smiled at him, patted him on the arm and gave him some New Year’s Eve advice as I was walking out the door: “Don’t get too wasted—and don’t waste your money on girls who don’t appreciate it”.
I have no idea if he listened to me. I hope that he did. I kind of like to think he started chatting up a different girl: one who appreciated his chivalry, thought his jokes were funny, got excited about her rose, and was a pretty kick ass Mario Kart competitor herself. One who appreciated him for his good qualities—who saw the value of what he brought to the table.
Are your customers buying what you’re selling?
Do they see your unique qualities? Do they value what you bring to the table? Do you laugh at each other’s jokes? Do they like you just the way you are? Or are you chasing after a client who’s never going to be interested in you, no matter how many drinks you buy them?