Learn How to Better Communicate and Connect with Your Real Customers with Monica Sharma-Patnekar
In this episode of the Product Powerhouse podcast, Monica Sharma Patnekar from Business with Monica, and I chat about how you can better communicate and connect with your real customers.
She discusses the importance of understanding your customer's desires, actions, and demographics, and what delights them as buyers, and how to use this information to create effective messaging and marketing strategies.
We talk about how a lot of businesses are struggling to create the right messages to actually connect with the customers and how that dictates how you should be marketing your business.
We also talk about how important it is to lean into your intuition and look inward for answers in your business, rather than always searching for the next course or program that promises to deliver the secret to success.
Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, take a screenshot of the episode to post in your stories and tag me! And don’t forget to follow, rate and review the podcast and tell me your key takeaways!
Hello, and welcome to a new episode of the product powerhouse podcast. I am so happy you are tuning in here today. I have a very fun guest. Today. I am chatting with Monica Sharma, pat Dakar, who is just an incredible. Woman. I had such a great conversation with her talking about how to really hone in on your messaging to talk to your customers.
And we covered talking to real people as opposed to ideal client avatars that we make up. And I think that there's a really good distinction between the two and Monica provides some great questions. And suggestions for how you can really get to know your. Customers, the real people who have purchased from you or who are on your email list.
We also talk about looking inward when things get a little bit tough in your business and realizing that you. have the answers and you have the ability to be successful, to do whatever it is that your heart desires. And we just have to remember that, which is something that I am often reminding myself.
I am always telling myself like Erin, you have the answers. You don't need to look elsewhere. I really loved that part of our conversation. So let's chat with monica Hi Monica. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. How are you?
Monica: Hi, Erin. I'm good. Thank you for having me on.
Erin Alexander: I'm excited. This is the second time we gotta talk, so it's really fun. I am so excited to introduce you to everyone listening. Why don't we start by telling everyone who you are and what.
Monica: Hey, so I'm Monica. I'm from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I am an e-commerce and product-based brand mentor and coach, and helping conscious and creative business owners to better communicate and connect with the real audience so that they can let go of spinning their wheels on those messaging tactics and actions that just never seem to convert.
I'm a mom of two girls. Absolute chai fanatic. I'm Dutch by Berth and Indian by Heritage, and I always love saying global through choice in education.
Erin Alexander: That's so fun. I have another friend who is Dutch, Sandra Vander Lee, and I've had her on the podcast too, and she's just phenomenal. I love her.
Monica: I know her as well.
Erin Alexander: Yes. Awesome. What a small business world, even though we are global . Yes. So today we're gonna talk about your roadmap for helping clients scale their e-commerce store.
And I love this because you have it narrowed down to very specific strategies. I love the phrase roadmap it's so fun. So why don't we just talk about your business. What do you help clients do in the e-commerce?
Monica: Like literally, I help them better communicate and connect with their real audience.
And one thing I've seen a lot happening that. Yes, everybody's out there getting the traffic to their store, putting out the content, or everybody's doing all the right actions, but somehow they reach this plateau or they're still not seeing the kind of level of engagement they want for the level of their business.
And one of the biggest things I. Time and time again is they often don't know who they're really speaking to and why people buy it from them and what the brand really stands for and what value they bring to the customer's life. It's remembering that, people buy from you because of how you make them feel, even when you sell products.
And, that needs to translate consistently into all the messaging, the content, the ads, even the channels or collaborations you choose to do. Usually I see an often missing piece where people are just out there taking all those actions, but maybe we need, take a step back and look at the fundamentals of their business.
Erin Alexander: Yeah. Because you could be posting and emailing and whatever, but if you're not reaching the right people, they're still not gonna be buying.
Monica: Not reaching the right people with the right message. You may be reading the right people, but the message is completely off and for the stage of journey as well that they are on with you.
And that's one of the biggest things I've noticed time and time again with people is that is just the missing piece.
Erin Alexander: right? So how do you figure out who are your real customers? Like where do you find this inform?
Monica: That's one thing I love saying is, we already started that real customer, it's real over ideal.
Ideal is, again, it's something from the imagination. People are making up these ideal customer after hours from their thought and processes or maybe a few bits of communication they've had. But what you really need to do is really get to know who your real audiences. And it goes beyond just sending surveys because surveys, yes.
You should still be doing them, but it doesn't allow you to go deeper into their motivations. So you need to actually get, have one-on-one conversations or small focus groups with your real customers and your real audience.
Erin Alexander: Oh, that sounds scary. That feels very scary. ,
Monica: yes, I get that very often. Most people are scared of it.
I have clients who fight me on it. But this is an absolutely non-negotiable piece when I work with my clients, because how, how can you track more people to your store or ask them to even come back and buy more from you when you don't even know who they really are? It's as simple as that for me.
I know it's scary and there's, because, there's this fear of, what will they say? Will they have the time? It's also this criticism that people worry about. But I one, it's better to know now than later so that you can pivot and make tweaks. But I've rare ever had anyone where the customers told them things that they didn't want a hair.
And people are they love helping people. People love helping people. It's, our business is based on humans. It's a connection and you reach out to people, they actually think, oh my God, this business owner really cares about me. How many corporates and bigger businesses that you're competing with are really doing this with their customers and are able to build that customer connection?
You have that opportunity as a small business owner, and I see this time and time again that sometimes people, they interview and actually speak to become loyal customers, which is not the reason you should be doing it. , it's the bonus piece out of it. So it's, it is scary, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Erin Alexander: That totally makes sense. I think we're, for me at least, I'm afraid like someone's gonna say, oh, I don't need you. But then why would they sign up to do an interview?
Monica: why would they sign up? Why would they be in your audience? Why will they be buying from you anyways, right? Yeah. And it's better to hear you know, what they love about you and maybe what's not working so that you can make those tweaks right now instead of trying to keep guessing and after one year think, oh my God, why isn't it working?
Erin Alexander: Yes. I actually, I just got feedback from one of my clients who wanted more face-to-face time, and I've been working really hard. Away from face-to-face time, because I'm a mom of two. Right now I work in my dining room. It's just, I take a lot of calls for podcasting and teaching and so like little short calls are hard and I didn't know that people would want face-to-face time. I didn't think they wanted to talk to me.
They just want their website. But no, they want, they'll tell you what they want. Yes.
Monica: They'll tell you but also I think it's a great opportunity for you to find out why they want the FaceTime. Cause maybe there's another way to solve it.
They can tell you what their needs are, what the gaps are, what's not working. But they may not be able to give this solution. So this is figuring out, okay, what does that FaceTime add for them? And maybe there's another way you can solve it without you actually having to get. Many calls.
Erin Alexander: That was another piece that I was thinking of maybe they do want this, and that's okay because you don't want to deliver that or you don't want to offer it, and that's good to know that your messaging maybe needs tweaked a little bit so that you can, get those people out of your audience.
For lack of a better way of saying that, because if you don't want to be providing this type of product, then you don't want those types of people in your audience.
Monica: Exactly. So it could be change of product, it could be change in your, in the messaging. Often there's just a gap in the messaging I noticed even more than the product I've noticed, the people I work with intuitively they've you really narrowed down and gotten the right products that people actually love. They even have customers coming back for more, but it's harder for them to take it to the next level. And so there is usually that gap in the messaging.
It's understanding why those people are really buying. Most business owners, they start a business and go but I'm might do a customer. So there should be more of me. The thing is, nobody's gonna be like just like you, right? And we need to start figuring out when you wanna really grow and scale, what is it that those actual people are buying?
Why are they buying? Because they're not gonna be just like you. The exact reasons are not gonna be the same. And you need to figure out who that audience really.
Erin Alexander: Yeah, I think I see that a lot too when I do coaching or when I do audits or things like that, I notice that you do have great products.
Like I have yet to find a business owner where they just have crap products, but it's the messaging, like they're not quite there, they're not quite able to Get the words right
Monica: they're not able to convey, like I say, why should I buy from you, right? , what's the value you're really offering through your products in my life and what makes you unique and different?
It's so easy to just click away your website nowadays. So why should I be hanging around? And there's so much research, again showing that most purchases are subconscious. So there's also research by professor Cole, Gerald Zaltman from Harvard Business. It is again and again. The 95% of purchases are subconscious, especially when you're in higher price products or conscious, you're conscious business.
You care about the ethics of sustainability, and it means you're competing at different product level. You're not just trying to sell the cheapest with maximizing profit at any cost. And when you are in that area, people buy because of how it makes them. How does that product make me feel?
What does that product do for me in my life? And I also love saying, you're not really solving problems. You're fulfilling desires at that level. I, I didn't need to get a new bag. I still did cause I just really loved it. not really a problem I had, but there was a desire I had that I wanted fulfilling.
So what is that desire? And really figure out and go deeper into, move away from your products and features to more that emotional messaging.
Erin Alexander: Yeah. And I think that's something that a lot of business owners that I, encounter struggle with because I feel like the online gurus in the world has told us you have to solve someone's problem.
And they will say whatever I make jewelry doesn't solve a problem. Or maybe they make handmade soap and they don't solve a problem cuz you can buy soap anywhere. And so it's not, maybe it's not a life changing problem, but there's still something someone is craving and that's why they're buying from you as opposed from picking up the plain soap at the store.
Like there is a reason they're choosing to buy with you.
Monica: Yeah, and I think that problem messaging has come from both, more technology driven products that we know we have a lot of, the. The SaaS and tech industries. Okay. As well as if you look at service-based or coaching, maybe then the word problem can still fit.
But I've noticed with product-based businesses, and especially when you're in the lifestyles kind of space it's really a want a desire that you're fulfilling. Whether it's home accessories in your house if I take another cushion cover, Hey I, it can be semantics. Am I solving a problem while making my house look better?
But it's more a desire. It's a want. It's something that makes me feel better and my family feel better, and my life and my house look better.
Erin Alexander: I love that. Okay, so besides focus groups, interviews, how do you really define your niche? You talk about real over ideal, and to engage with a real person.
Do you have any like tips to help someone narrow that down to a real person as opposed to this, fake person? , this imaginary friend we've dreamed up.
Monica: Yes. So there, there are two things to this actually. Well, Three, so one I like saying is that you have your over customer segments, right?
That's the. Traits of people that you're, that within that you have that, who's that one real person? And a lot of people stop there and they're looking at things like, where, what are they eating? What are they drinking? What are they watching on Netflix today?
But I like to go to what I call as the customer desire insights. So it's really what is happening in their life right now. It's not the solution that you're offering right now, but what's the kind of end, state and solution they're looking for? So that is one. And the second part is how do you get to that is really, I love using my four Ds, which is the desires over demographics framework.
So there's the four types of questions you can ask your customer. We start with first D, which is purely the demographic. You do need that. It just helps create that base and foundation and things like targeting, if you do ads and things like that. So demographics can be age, it can be gender, ethnicity careers, whether they're buying or renting a house, what, whatever that is or some of their hobbies they're doing. But then the second one, which is one I filed, most people miss actually try to skip on, or they don't realize, which is called the desires, what's really going on in their life right now.
What could they be struggling with, but what also makes them just happy? And how can they have more of those moments or what can, what, what needs to happen in their life to have less of those struggles? So what's really going on in their life at this moment and what really makes them happy?
Then you have the third D, so which is due. How do they behave within your category? So here we start narrowing it down to really how do they find you or your competitors? What are their triggers or barriers to purchase? What really makes them, what makes somebody say yes and somebody else say no but also remembering how they find you and what influences them in their purchase.
And then the final one is delight. So what really makes them happy? When they're making that purchase. The whole, not just, when they receive your product, but also the whole shopping experience, from finding on your website or if you have a brick and mortar store in your store to actually rere receiving the product and what happens after that as well.
So it's really demographics, desire, due and delight. So those are the four types of questions to ask them.
Erin Alexander: I love that. I love how you've narrowed it down into these like buckets that you can really hone in on what makes them unique and what makes your business provide that. Like when you talked about the do what are they going through that's making them take action?
And that is a crucial part of business that I think we don't always think about. Like it's easy to think about demographics, it's easy to think about what maybe they want, but why are they taking action? Why are they purchasing your product now? A couple years ago went through this phase where I was all about decorating my living room cuz I wanted it to feel cozy.
And it was like during C O V I D right? So my actions were a response to something. And that is usually how it goes. Sometimes they're impulsively buying, because we see an ad , but ultimately it's what does that lead to?
Monica: And that leads to complete different strategies because I'm working with a client right now who sends sells fragrance oils.
Now her clients are actually finding her, either they smell this particular thing on a friend or an acquaintance, whether they see it in some niche stores that she is in, or a couple of markets that she was in. But then they do go purchase it online. So her strategy is, I can't tell her go and run Facebook ads now, because that's not how people are finding her.
And there's, they're, people need to. get a taste of this and smell. So we are gonna have to look at a strategy very differently versus somebody else who actually does all their searching online and comes to your website and is comparing you with other websites and reading reviews and then making that purchase.
So I've had other clients where, there's selling baby carriers where people really just wanna help and guidance in terms of which carrier is right for them at the stage they're in, but they're making and finding all that online only, and their, the strategy is completely different, and Facebook ads or Google ads could actually work really well.
So it's so important to know these things, to be able to come up with the right strategy as well.
Erin Alexander: Yes I'm just thinking of all these scenarios in my head of like, when I've seen this in action, like for example, a personal example, but I went through a phase where I was trying to find like a natural deodorant.
That one didn't make me stink and that actually worked. And I also ha sweat a lot. So I needed something that actually worked. And it was like, it was the recommendations from friends, not the research I did online that got. To, try these different things. And so those are very different strategies, and that doesn't mean that all of your customers are finding you from that one strategy, but knowing, the different ways that people are finding you is critical to knowing what to include on your website, what to Say in emails and types of things. Like the actions you take to get sales starts by knowing where they, how they're finding you, or why they're looking for you in the first place.
Monica: Yes. And what could be stopping some of them from buying? What makes them the rest go through and what that product then also means in their life, right?
Because there is always a deeper meaning and that's what's going to keep them coming back for more . So it's the how they're finding you will help you get them to make those initial purchases. but what it means in their life is the connection. You keep going after purchase to keep them coming back for more and making sure that they become your advocate.
Erin Alexander: Yes, absolutely. I do think one thing that's really cool is with social media, we are able to have these conversations with our customers in a way that other businesses, like before social media haven't. No one's asking Walmart, Walmart isn't having these conversations with their bus their customers, but it, in the small business world and with social media, we are able to have these conversations.
In a way that's just incredibly different than previous generations of business owners.
Monica: Absolutely. I think it's open doorways that have just never existed for us. Yes, it's can be exhausting with the constant algorithm changes and you don't know which channel's gonna start again, new thing is gonna come up.
But yes, it's been how we've best been able to connect with people one-on-one all around the world that we've never would've ha had access to otherwise.
Erin Alexander: I love that. This is a really great Process, that you've created your roadmap.
I can see this working in different phases of business owners. Like I've been creating marketing plans for business owners, and at the beginning of the workbook I give them, or the plan, I show them like different phases in a product-based business. And it's like, you are here, but this is gonna repeat.
You're gonna reach a new level, you're gonna have to do it again. You're gonna offer a new product, you have to do it again. You don't want to offer this product anymore. You have to do it again. and so it's something that we're gonna have to get really good at doing.
Monica: Yeah, and I always say getting to know your customer is like an ongoing process because what gets you to the first a hundred k to the first 500, to the first 1 million, it's not gonna be the same.
Your audience is gonna grow. The markets keep changing technology changes that we use, we as business owners, change in what we want as well. So it is a repeatable thing that you have to keep doing in your business and the more you make it as part of your process and making sure you do these regular.
More you'll be on the ball when things do happen and you will see that some of the businesses, even during say, the Pandemic, and now that we are heading into a recession, we're not sure. But , it's the businesses that are on point and know their customers and are able to pivot and make the changes that need it quickly are the ones that come out stronger afterwards.
Cause knowing your customer translate into a really strong brand and how you position yourself relative to others in their.
Erin Alexander: Yes. That's one of the things that I was so inspired by during the pandemic, at the start is like the w the businesses that were willing to adapt and be innovative and change in order to still provide their customers with a service.
Even though our way of providing that, not even a service, but products, anything, the way that we were able to provide suddenly was like, severe. . And so the businesses that were willing and able to change and adapt and find new rhythms were the ones that succeeded and are still around today.
And all of that comes from, being willing to provide your customers what they need in that moment. And you do that by knowing them really well.
Monica: Really well. And the thing is, no matter how much our life changes, right? Technology, markets, the one thing that has never changed is knowing your customer.
Yeah. Is just how we reach them. Changes, right? But the whole concept of just knowing your customer, knowing what your brand stands for, the value you offer, and having consistent messaging are fundamentals of a business that basically will never change. It's just how you maybe can do the research, how you reach those customers, how you deliver your products.
Those things do change.
Erin Alexander: Absolutely. Yeah. That's really cool. Monica, this is really enlightening. I loved on the podcast to give people an action step. So if someone is like, feeling like they need to really hone in on their messaging,
Monica: what's the first action step you give your clients, when they come to you, really getting to know your customer, get a few people lined up.
Look into your list. I would say start with your own email list what you have. Reach out to a few people who have you know, bought from you regularly. Some, regular customers. And reach out to people maybe on your email list who have been opening your email, been on there for a few months, maybe haven't been buying, that will already give you two different viewpoints.
just speaking to two, three of each of those groups itself is a nice way to get started and use those four Ds. I would say to get started and ask them those questions, that's the first place to start, and that's where I see. , the mindset shift happen as well. And I don't think we talk about that enough, but it also creates a mindset shift because of the clarity it gives you into your business, into your audience, and why you're doing what you're doing and why your customers are buying helps you gain that confidence to keep, with that consistent messaging and also the courage to keep going when things get tough.
Because business that get tough, but as long as. on point to your customers and then you can be able to communicate and connect with them and build that audience of a real community around your brand.
Erin Alexander: Yeah, I think that's really, Critical. I have a friend who reached out and just said, Hey, Erin, are you seeing that across the board people are having slow sales?
Because, my January has been so slow and I feel like giving up and I think that getting that feedback and, hearing what people want and even just knowing that you're on the right path. Having that conversation with a real customer or someone who really is interested could really help reignite some of that passion when you are feeling like, man, things are slow, things are down. I'm frustrated.
Monica: It's the biggest things I've heard from clients I've worked with. It was like I fell back in love with my business, or I started to trust my own self realizations. And some of them have been, they have grown their business to great level, but just like you just said, then they reach a point where they're like, am I going to be able to keep going or not?
And speaking to their customers, kind reignites that trust in themselves and their passion, cuz they realize why they're really doing what they're doing and that's what keeps them going as well.
Erin Alexander: Yeah, I can totally relate. In December I had, or like October, November, December, I had the worst client experience ever and in January I was pretty shy about trying to book a new client and someone had booked a discovery call and I've had to follow through cuz they'd already booked.
And having a conversation with them about what I offer and why I offer it, really helped me to feel more in love with my business after going through this really hard time. And yeah and so I'm fortunate that with discovery calls, I have a couple every month, so I get to have those conversations regularly.
But it really does help to reignite your passion and your fire for what you do. When you get to have those conversations with someone one-on-one.
Monica: It just tells you complete different angle versus, just really asking, so why did you choose me? That really just changes how I look at my business as.
Erin Alexander: Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you so much for providing an action step. I think that's really important. So everyone listening, you're gonna schedule, two calls with clients and you could incentivize them to, offer them a little discount or set them a free gift. It doesn't have to be a huge thing, but I think that can be fun.
Monica: I love positioning it as like a token to say thank you to them. Yes. They're giving you your time. Yes. Give them something back. It's more like being grateful and thank you versus saying, Hey, do this and you'll get this smudge off or something.
Absolutely. And a little discount, a little gift or something. Just being grateful for their time. I'll see that many people do it even without that, but it's just exchange. For that action step, we've provided the link for the four Ds so that you can easily get started.
Erin Alexander: Yes. So the link to Monica's four Ds are in the show notes so that you can absolutely find it. Monica, I love to ask everyone on the podcast the same question. And this is a little bit more about your business, but I'd like to just remind everyone that no matter what we do or how long we've been in business, we're all learning and growing and evolving because that is business.
So what is something you're currently learning and growing through in your own business?
Monica: Ooh, that's a big question
Erin Alexander: on this spot.
Monica: There is a lot, so I'm gonna be very upfront and honest. So I've been through, because of a lot of things in the personal front, I've been through a level of anxiety and panic on my own as well.
And I've been taking help over the last three months and really the biggest lesson I've been learning is what I do with my clients as well, but it's remembering that it's okay to slowed down. When I slowed down, it doesn't necessarily mean my business automatically slowed down.
That's what always scared me. You feel like you have to keep doing so much, so therefore taking more actions that are maybe longer term versus feeling like, I'm always on the social media hamster wheel, so I have example. I've been on more podcasts where it's less of me having to show up every single day to create content. Understanding that it's okay to slow down and it doesn't necessarily mean that the business automatically slows down. And really learning to trust myself again in many ways, and remembering that I do have the answers and I don't always need to go looking for another coach, another course, another thing.
And if I do take it, it is from a place of trusting myself versus I need somebody to give me the answers. Oh, those were two, two of my biggest lessons and I'm still learning even after so many years in business. Yeah, so it's, I've been really taking intense help and it's been a lot of reminders for.
Erin Alexander: That is so powerful. One of the mottos I'm always telling myself is I already have what it takes and I have to remind myself all the time because we don't remember, like when things feel hard and then we see this course that promises the secret. and I didn't know about you, but I've taken a lot of courses and none of them have had the secret yet.
Pretty sure that the secret is inside me, right?
Monica: I always say the keys to your business are right with you to your both to sustainable growth and impact are right with you. You just need to know where to look and what to do with those findings. We often forget that, that we each have the key and yes, taking the is important sometimes in certain parts of your business, but just knowing that the key's still with you. You have the control of your business still, and those people are there to guide you in the right direction. But you have the power to change your business, your life, and or anything else you want.
Erin Alexander: Yeah. If I could like cheer and clap for that, I would, that is so powerful. It's so important for everyone who has a business and everyone listening, especially when you feel like you're struggling because. We are so quick to look for the answers outside of us, or even to say I'm not good enough, but you really are. You really are.
Monica: But isn't it surprising? I've noticed as women, I've noticed with many of my, clients They're the ones who feel this more . I see this time and time again, whether it was a mom, you're worrying if you're struggling with your business and being a mom. Me being a woman of color as, and I work with people of color as well, and the struggles sometimes we've been through I've seen women in general, we are so much harder on ourselves in every respect.
And that's one thing I hope that changes and I hope to make play a role in that change.
Erin Alexander: Absolutely. Me too. Thank you so much for being here today. Before we sign off, why don't we tell everyone where they can find you in the best place to hang out with you online.
Monica: So you kept you can definitely check out my website business with monica.com.
You have all the details of everything I do over there. But on online you'll find me on Instagram and LinkedIn. I'm always hanging out there. And if you download The four Ds you can be on my email list where I'm always sharing a lot of stories and inspiration to help you grow your business.
Erin Alexander: I am so grateful for your time. We will have the link to your website, your Instagram, your LinkedIn, and your four Ds framework in the show notes so that they're easy to find. And I am just so grateful for your time. Thank you.