Image source: Den of Geek
In the wind-up to book launch day, I have been on scores of podcasts talking about the core concepts from The Widest Net. I have tried to find an easy metaphor to describe the concept of ecosystem marketing, a central theme in the book.
I have muddled through the “It is all the people, services, events, infrastructure, ideas, products and organizations that help your ideal customer completely solve their problem,” but that does not exactly roll off the tongue.
Last week, in the middle of answering the question in an interview, it came to me:
A quick way of thinking about the ecosystem that surrounds your ideal customer is to ask yourself:
If you had 30 minutes to save the world (with your work!), who would you assemble to help you?
The interviewer (sorry, I forget who it was since I recorded 10 last week!) said “Oh, kind of like The Justice League!”
“YES!,” I replied enthusiastically. “Like The Justice League, except for business” (or the Marvel equivalent — I don’t want to start a comic fan war in the comments!)
Start with the problem
A key to knowing whom to call on your red superhero rotary phone (the obvious choice) is to use Audience Audit’s method of describing your ideal customer by problem, challenge or aspiration.
So to use some specific business examples, here are some ideal customer descriptions:
Example 1: A web design firm:
“We help small businesses with no Internet presence gain customers by creating their first website.”
Potential Superhero partners: graphic designers, copywriters, web hosts, SaaS companies like Canva who can help them create graphics, camera makers, social media marketing agencies, virtual assistants and email service providers.
Example 2: A consulting company
“We help organizations reduce employee turnover and improve customer satisfaction scores”
Potential Superhero partners: office furniture makers, executive coaches, performance management software systems, books like The Power of Moments and Impact Players, podcasts like Dare to Lead, research projects like Black Womxn Thriving and apps like Glassdoor
What is your superpower?
In this metaphor, you, too, are a superhero. You have been gifted with unique skills, strengths, experiences and powers to help your clients solve their problem.
Knowing your strengths and superpowers will distinguish the exact other skills that you need to help save the Earth when you have a short timeline and great incentive to get it done quickly.
Who is in your Business Justice League?
With a ticking clock to solve an urgent problem, you would want to call the very best of the best experts to come to your aid.
Drawing on the examples above in the “Start with the business problem” section, you would know the very specific skills and superpowers also required to solve the problem that is central to the success of your ideal customers.
What if you don’t know who is in your Business Justice League?
You have some work to do.
What you discover when you need to solve an important problem quickly (like the plot for most action movies where there is a bomb embedded to an asteroid headed to the Earth and it will hit in 29 minutes unless you divert it), is that you need two important things:
1) The contact information of your own Justice League and a quick means to reach them.
2) Trust and credibility in the relationship so that they will answer your call before it is too late.
This means your ecosystem analysis and relationship building needs to start long before you have an immediate need.
Make it a practice to do three things:
- Clearly communicate the problems you are most passionate to solve in your business so that people know your own superhero powers and skills
- Bookmark amazing resources in specific “Justice League” categories
- Reach out and connect to people whom you consider to be the best of the best in your field. Get to know each other slowly, so that trust and awareness can build over time
With a strong crew of superheroes beside you, there are few problems you can’t solve. Or, as Batman said in Justice League:
“I don’t care how many demons he’s fought in how many hells. He’s never fought us. Not us united.”