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It's an ages old tale in business:

“I asked my friends / mastermind group / Facebook fans / fellow forum users, and they all said they LOVED the idea for this product, but then when I released it, no one bought it!”

What happens between the “OMG, that is SUCH a good idea, I would LOVE a product like that!” encouragement and the total lack of actual purchases?

Is the general public full of pathological liars?

Are your friends secretly plotting against your success?

* insert menacing soap opera music here *

That would make for a juicy plot twist, sure. (And maybe you've got particularly evil-prone friends, in which case, you may want to consider a change of social groups. But let's assume that when we're hearing hoofbeats, it's horses, not zebras.)

Here's what's really going on.

“I LOVE this idea” is not the same thing as “I will PAY FOR this product”

This is the biggest reason for the gap between results predicted from surveys and actual money-in-the-bank numbers.

It's easy for people to enthuse about your idea. They have no skin in the game to do so.

It's not that they're being phony in their enthusiasm — they may genuinely be excited about your idea.

But someone's enthusiasm about your idea does not correlate with their likelihood of purchasing your product.

And that's a tough reality to grasp.

Because we all really want to believe that all of those well-meaning pals and masterminders who said, “OMG that is GENIUS! YES! I LOVE that! My business SO needs something like that!” are going to be the first in line to buy when our product hits the market.

But here's the universal truth you MUST understand:


The only thing that equals money on the table, is money on the table.

It's one thing for your mastermind pal to cheer you on about an idea that, in theory, sounds like something she'd buy. She might even envision herself paying for the proposed product and — in theory — be totally on board with that.

It's another thing entirely for her to actually go through the purchase process, get out her credit card, and commit to turning over a certain chunk of her own money to you for that product.

Enthusiasm for the idea is easy. No matter how pure the enthuser's intent, her enthusiasm exists only in the realm of theory.

Parting with actual money for the product is an entirely different thought process.

Which is why, and it bears repeating, enthusiasm does not equal money on the table.

Another universal truth that can save or sink your business — ignore at your peril:

Friends, masterminders, brainstormers, and forum users are NOT customers unless and until they pay for your products and services.

No matter how loudly they cheer, how enthusiastically they support, or how vehemently they insist that there WILL BE a market for whatever idea you've proposed.

Why is this true?

Refer to the first truth above: Because enthusiasm does not equal money on the table.

No matter its source. Period.

Enthuser does not equal customer.

Not even if the enthuser sends you nice emails.

Not even if the enthuser responds to all of the posts you write in your Facebook group.

Not even if the enthuser swears that she's TOTALLY going to be your first and most loyal client.

Enthuser does not equal customer unless and until she pays for your product or service.

Enthusiasm does not equal money on the table, and therefore, enthusiasm does not magically make someone a customer. Payment for your product or service makes someone a customer.

Gut Check: Who Are You Making Products For, Your Market Or Your Enthusers?

It's easy to make products for the people who cheer the loudest.

You're human, for goodness sake — and it feels really good to be told that you're brilliant, that your idea is awesomesauce, and that everyone in your mastermind or forum or Facebook group is going to be lining up to buy from you.

But everyone in your mastermind or forum or Facebook group IS NOT YOUR MARKET.

I guarantee it. (I don't even KNOW all of you reading this and I still guarantee it, so often have I seen this play out.)

Go back to your market's needs, their struggles, their problems, and create products and services that address them, relieve them, solve them.

You're in business to serve your market, not to collect enthusiasms.

Serving your market well and collecting the most vocal enthusiasms don't always coincide as well as we'd like.

And therein lies the gap between “I love that idea” and “I'll pay for your product.”

To enthusiastically serving your market,


image background credit: flickr user Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi via license CC BY-SA 2.0.