What Can Startups Learn from Fats Waller?”



I was recently at a most entertaining concert, and the band played this old Fats Waller standard that I hadn’t hard before:


“Find out what they like, and how they like it, and let him have it just that way.

Give them what they want, and when they want it, without a single word to say.”


Want Your Startup to Succeed? Don’t Be Afraid To Ask.


As a startup getting ready to bring your game-changing idea to the world, you can’t be afraid to ask the important questions. Your future is on the line! Understanding who your target market is and how to reach them should be a priority on your to-do list.


Too often, companies devise marketing strategies, advertising campaigns or branding initiatives without ever taking into account what the market actually wants. Instead, they scheme within the confines of a board room, or leave it to the devices of a small creative group holed up in an ad agency somewhere, and hope upon hope that what they come up with after a few hours of “brainstorming” will “resonate.”


Why not ask people what they like, and how they like it…and give them what they want and when they want it? Either we’re afraid to ask, or we think it will take too long and cost too much money, or we think we already know. Wouldn’t you rathe know for sure instead of putting the future of your entire startup on a hunch? We all know what happens when we make assumptions…don’t make that your business philosophy.Instead be smart. Be diligent. Be prepared.


The true science bubbling below the surface of any marketing magic is the simple task of surveying (not an actual survey, mind you) the landscape and finding out true motivators and de-motivators — having actual conversations with actual people who might be inclined to buy your product or service. You can’t market to everyone. Instead you need to find your audience and uncover the “why” and “what” that truly motivates them. Being able to form a connection is the first step to creating a lasting relationship between consumer and brand. Doing anything less is destined for disconnect. Launching a product or message into a market based on hunches seems insane to me. Yet countless brands are doing that very thing right now.


Be honest now. When’s the last time you asked? It can’t be that hard? Don’t add more barriers between yourself and success — work smarter, not harder.