Want To Embrace a Buyer-Focused Mindset for Your Startup? Learn to Think Like a DJ

In my day gig as a provider of sales support services to startups, it’s fascinating to hear which factors are believed to be the most important when trying to attract new customers.

Where a company’s founders attended uni, who’s on their Board of Directors, which awards they’ve won, how spectacular their offices look - there’s hella delusion out there about what inspires prospective purchasers to open their wallets.  But the most important contributor to startup success is rarely considered, barely understood, and almost always overlooked:  building and maintaining a relentless buyer-focused mindset.

According to business analytics firm CB Insights, nine of the top 20 reasons [why startups fail], and five out of the top 10, were related to customers:  not meeting customers’ needs, not listening to them, or even ignoring them.”

Investopedia believes that startup failure is due to “lack of research about customers:  too many would-be entrepreneurs go into the market thinking they have a great service or product to offer, but they fail to realise that nobody wants that service or product.”

And as Inc. sees it, startups crater because “most startup founders get stuck on their original idea and refuse to pivot” or adapt to what their customers want.

Stuff like where the execs went to school, etc. are a company’s features.  They’re the details that may be of passing interest to prospective buyers, but they’ll never close the deal.  Thinking that they will is a classic newbie mistake that’s potentially fatal to a startup’s survival.

To properly align their minds, business owners need to slow their features-obsessed rolls and instead promote the proven benefits that their products/services offer to their target clients or customers.  While a startup’s features capture the elements of “we we we” and “us us us”, the benefits emphasise the unique needs/goals/tastes of “you you you”.

Endlessly harping on your features will repel your prospects.  Clearly explaining and validating the benefits of your offerings will convert them into loyal purchasers. 

An easy way to illustrate the difference between features and benefits, as well as demonstrate the efficacy of a buyer-focused mindset, is by sharing the 411 about my side gig:  producing, hosting, and DJing a livestream mix show called “Danceteria REWIND”.

I launched the show at the high point of omicron in early 2022.  My days were spent working, cleaning my apartment, and trying not to die - so I desperately needed a hobby that would be a fun diversion from the dark meh of my daily routine.  After pondering options, I decided to pursue DJing (which I did professionally in a previous career) but I had no idea of what to spin or where to spin it.

I discovered Twitch, which offers a convenient platform for turntablists who want to reach and entertain audiences.  When figuring out a musical direction for my new hobby, I remembered how much I enjoyed clubbing in NYC as a teen, and one nightspot stood out:  Danceteria.

Described as a "supermarket of style" by its original owner Rudolf Piper, Danceteria was a megaspace that was the go-to destination for fans of the bustling nightlife scene of lower Manhattan.  The club existed from 1979 through 1986, and was famous for introducing groundbreaking art, video, fashion, and most importantly, music.  It's also where Sade, Keith Haring, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, and Madonna worked early in their careers before they became superstars.

With five floors of DJs and live bands, Danceteria served up the coolest sounds in the city - including reggae/dub, mutant disco, early electro/rap/hip hop, pre-industrial/EDM, dancefloor punk, B-side new wave, nu salsa/boogaloo/Latin soul, UK club funk, old school crate digger burners, and more.  All of these genres merged into an irresistible soundtrack that got bodies moving, heads bobbing, and colorful crowds lining up on W.21st Street to get inside and be a part of the action.

My strategy was to take a typical night at Danceteria and turn it into a weekly, two-hour journey that coalesced all of the rhythmic genres that were explored during the club’s heyday.  To assemble my library, I analysed original playlists of some of the premier downtown DJs, researched underground tracks that were popular in the early 80s, and digitized cuts that were in my collection of vinyl and CDs.

The features of “Danceteria REWIND” include my background as a DJ, how I select the songs, and the techniques that I use to seamlessly beatmatch them from track to track.  While these features initially got my audience’s attention, it’s the benefit that the show delivers that motivates them to tune in every Thursday night:

“Danceteria REWIND” brings my listeners tremendous joy and consistently improves the quality of their lives.

In terms of the buyer-focused mindset that allows me to serve up this particular benefit (which is one of three key triggers that author/consultant Lee Boyan identified as being necessary to successfully close a sale), my mission is that no matter how much I rock the house each week, I endeavour to rock it even harder - and thrill my listeners even more - the week after.  And the week after that.  And on and on ‘til the break of dawn.

Thanks to the chat function on Twitch, I gain real time feedback that influences what I spin and lets me know how well I’m serving my “customers”.  Club and event DJs also get this kind of instant feedback by monitoring and then responding to the tracks that fill the floor, generate yelps of delight, and whip the crowds into a sweaty frenzy.

The methodical buyer-focused mindset that I employ with “Danceteria REWIND” is yielding results:  the show has attracted 37,000 Twitch followers, including club music fans, mix show devotees, 80s heads, and fitness buffs.  It has generated significant press coverage that converts into instant audience growth.  And major U.S. sponsors are buying ads that run when viewers access the stream.

Bill Gates famously said that “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”  I posit that tremendous insights can also be gained from your happiest customers - specifically, understanding what they love about your offerings, giving it to them in abundance, and consistently dazzling them.  Borrowing this simple yet highly effective approach, which is what savvy DJs use to exhilarate their “buyers”, will differentiate you from your competitors, build interest in the marketplace, and allow your startup to get paid in full.