Looking for new business? Find it in a shopping list.

The Missus and I were shopping the other day for pillows in Bed, Bath & Beyond. While this alone isn’t quite all that newsworthy or interesting (though you’ll note I prefer extra firm, thank you), we came across something I thought was smart: a college dorm shopping list. I’m sure you’ve seen this kind of thing before. It was a simple, two-color form on a tear pad, listing out the stuff one might need as they prepare for college. A nice way for the store to increase their sale.

I wonder if this can’t get us thinking about the professions and how to get new business from existing clients.

Well, the obvious thing that leaps to mind is a template, right?

Some of you may feel this is a bit pedestrian and can’t possibly work. You, after all, are crafting something truly unique and special. One size can’t possibly fit all. You’re crafting special sauce, after all. Something built from deep immersion into a prospect’s company, their competitors and their consumers & customers. Or, if you’re not in the agency business, all the homework you’ve done that has led you to smart, brilliant thinking.

Today, you’re being spared the discussion of how truly special the sauce is. What struck me about this college shopping list was not the content, but the location. It was right smack dab in the middle of the store. Not at the cash register. Not online. Not in a newspaper insert. But right there as we were understanding the difference between firm and extra firm.

In the professions, including the advertising business, here’s how the idea of a shopping list found in the middle of the shopping experience can work:

  • In your discovery period, what have you learned that’s not related to your scope, but highlights another problem?
  • How does your current assignment relate to other needs?
  • Who are the different internal departments and stakeholders involved in your existing scope? What needs might they have that are related to your skill set? How might you need to connect with them in relation to this project?
  • What are you learning about the clients that have been your partners? What are they like as human beings? How do they make decisions? What are their professional goals? (And, how might you help?)

Hope this has given you a new appreciation for shopping lists. Or at least Bed, Bath & Beyond! As always, thanks for your time. And should you have any related thoughts, feel free to share them.