Here’s How You Gain Customers As You Grow Your Product Line

Be Visible, Be Focused


Mike and Larry (not their real names) had an idea. It was simple. When they came to me they had already figured out to enlist other folks by inviting them to be partners, experts, and heroes and their idea became a fabulous reality — a great first success. After their event, we talked about how to leverage their success into something longer and more lasting.

They had so many ideas! Their ideas were all over the place.


We stopped to take a strategic look at what was already at their door and where natural managed growth might go. We started with this model to guide the plan.


  • [top left box] What is your core product / service? Who is in your core customer base? What was the form of your first success? Who are the customer you reached with your first success?

    Mike and Larry had developed an online webinar that had gained a huge following of fans — a core group of online small business folks, particularly pr and marketing people. We named them “old product” and “old customers” to remind us that we were focused on expanding both the product line and the customer base. Doing the same thing for the same people only leads to slow death

  • [top right box] How can you offer that same product to new customers? To extend the circle of people that attended the original webinar, Mike and Larry are offering it as an mp3 and a transcript. They may also use some as newsletter content and possibly later put it in a paid content subscription site.
  • [bottom left box] How can you keep serving the customers you reached with your first success? Mike and Larry have already started a second webinar series on a new question. They’re looking at new forms of the webinar, text versions of the same idea, a book, and offline events.
  • [bottom right box] How can you keep to solid path? Once we discussed how much bandwidth and risk it takes to veer away from a core audience and product niche, Mike and Larry agreed that the lower right box isn’t for them.

Ideas are good, but it’s hard to choose which will take you to the place you want to be, if you don’t know where you want to go. On the other hand, knowing where you’re going is irresistibly attractive.

All you need to get started is two questions: Who’s in your core audience and what is the first thing you will offer them?

I can’t wait to hear.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!

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  1. says

    Hi Liz

    Great post, very well explained. I am wondering if I am going into the area of “dont go there” on the chart?

    I am starting a new blog with a new group of potential clients etc, It is more in line with the work I have been doing off line.

    It seems to me it is a new product & new clients. Any thoughts?

    • says

      I’d have to know more, but it doesn’t sound like it. If you’re still working with the clients you know then you’re not “putting shoes in a book catalog — where no one would be looking for them.” Stay away from things that make you learn something new, market in new ways, and find new customers all at once. :)

  2. says

    Hi Liz,
    Thanks for this post – I’m re-reading it so it will sink in. Still have not worked out these principles into tangible practice. We get so caught up in creating and tweeting that sometimes strategy gets lost in the shuffle.

  3. says

    I have seen many companies in client industries hovering in the upper left box. It is soooo hard to watch. And the body count from the recent recession is mounting, with acquisitions and mergers abounding.

    This is as easy visual to keep in mind as I look into new markets myself. Thanks!

    • says

      Yeah, Heidi,
      It almost amazing me how fear gets people to be so short sighted. I’m working on a keynote for industry that’s filled with that kind of thinking. I’m trying to work this idea into it. heh heh

  4. says

    Love the infographic. Sometimes it takes a combination of words and an image to drive a point home.

    I think one of the best ways to extend your product line in order to better serve your existing core audience is to engage in a dialog with that audience. Once you’ve established a rapport and fulfilled the initial need, it should be easy – through blog comments, polls, surveys, etc – to get some really clear direction about where to take your next steps. It’s all about collaboration. Talk about a win-win!

    • says

      Hi Jamie,
      Talking is offering a service, especially if you’re helping to answer questions and solve problems. I agree that what you’re saying works miracles in extending a customer base and a product line at the same time. All of it takes bandwidth. Choosing which is the tough part. :)

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