Small Business Advice from the Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat Gives Small Business Advice

Learn his tricks and apply them to your business

He seems innocent enough, that Cat in the Hat, with his crooked striped hat and necktie. But under the surface, he’s a very wily businessman. He knows “a lot of good tricks.” And we’ve come to blow his cover and “show them to you.” Ready?

Identify Your Market’s Need

I sat there with Sally.
We sat there, we two.
And I said, “How I wish
We had something to do!”

For any business to succeed, it has to be addressing a real need. Selling heaters in the Amazon rainforest just ain’t gonna fly. Selling heaters in Iceland where everyone feels entirely satisfied with their heaters also isn’t going to work. What need are you answering? What dissatisfaction with life, the universe, or everything are you satisfying? If you can’t answer that question, better pick another business. If you can, then move on…

Communicate Benefit Clearly

We looked!
And we saw him!
The Cat in the Hat!
And he said to us,
“Why do you sit there like that?”
“I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny.
But we can have
Lots of good fun that is funny!”

It’s not enough for you to know the need you’re filling. You need to be able to express it in a way that resonates with your target market, that makes them feel you understand their issues. If you are the most amazing diet coach ever, it’s not enough to have your marketing materials offer “Special Diet Coaching Packages with the Most Amazing Diet Coach Ever!” Nope. First thing you have to do is address the needs and pain points:

  • Tried all the diets out there and haven’t seen results?
  • Lose weight but keep putting it back on?
  • Feel like you’re doomed to be overweight forever but just can’t accept it?

Now they feel you get them. Now you can move on to how you solve the problem.

Address Stated and Unstated Objections

No matter how strong the need and how beautifully you paint your offer, there will always be objections:

But our fish said, “No! No!
Make that cat go away!
Tell that Cat in the Hat
You do NOT want to play.
He should not be here.
He should not be about.
He should not be here
When your mother is out!”

The wise small business owner will address his potential customer’s objections:

“Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!” said the cat.
“My tricks are not bad,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.

And when the ever-nervous fish objects to the game of choice:

“Put me down!” said the fish.
“I do NOT wish to fall!”

The cat addresses his concerns directly:

“Have no fear!” said the cat.
I will not let you fall.
I will hold you up high
As I stand on a ball.”

(This doesn’t reassure the fish too much, but putting that aside…)

Addressing objections is easy to do when you have a fish customer expressing them to you outright. As a savvy small business owner, the trick that puts you ahead of the game is anticipating in advance what the objections will be – and addressing them directly. What is your potential customer most likely to object to? How are they going to claim your product or service isn’t right for them? Address that in your marketing copy.

A minor example is the ubiquitous “We promise not to sell, rent or give your email address to any 3rd party” notices that you often see at the bottom of sign-up forms. Companies asking for your email address know that you’ll be nervous about the fate of your email if you hand it over. “All I want is your freebie download. I don’t want to get hit with a ton of spam,” is your unstated concern. They know that. They address it. You feel better. You give over your email address. Done.

What are your potential customers’ objections?

  • Are they concerned about being trapped in a long-term subscription? Cancel easily anytime.
  • Are they concerned about the product or service being hard to use and that they’ll be frustrated/won’t be able to take full advantage of what they paid for? Video tutorials/help section/support staff accessible by email/24-7 hotline.
  • Are they concerned that the product won’t fit/look good on them? Learn from clothing manufacturer Black Milk who encourages its fans (of all different shapes and sizes) to share photos of themselves wearing Black Milk tights – and tag them with the product size. If you can’t do that, try a 60 day return policy – we even pay for your return shipping!

Don’t Give Up – Give It Another Iteration

Sometimes the business idea you thought was amazing just doesn’t fly. You don’t get takers – or your takers aren’t thrilled with the results:

“Now look what you did!”
Said the fish to the cat.
“Now look at this house!
Look at this! Look at that!”…
“You SHOULD NOT be here
When our mother is not.
You get out of this house!”
Said the fish in the pot.

Should you give up? Just go back and get a day job? Forget about being a small business owner?

“I will NOT go away!
I do NOT wish to go!
And so,” said the cat,
“So so so…
I will show you
Another good trick
That I know.”

No, that doesn’t mean being a pushy salesperson and trying to push former clients into doing business with you again. It DOES mean trying again. If your first product is a sales dud, learn from your mistakes. Why didn’t it work? What went wrong? How could you fix it? Be like these 5 well-known billionaires who had some spectacular business fails before they finally hit upon the recipe for success.

Take Responsibility

Whatever you do, however, don’t leave a trail of unhappy customers behind you. If you made mistakes or under-delivered, don’t ignore the issues, don’t justify yourself, and don’t cover it up.

“Oh dear!” said the cat.
“You did not like our game…
Oh dear. What a shame!
What a shame! What a shame!”

In addition to ‘fessing up, make sure to put it right.

“And THEN!
Who was back in the house?
Why, the cat?
“Have no fear of this mess,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“I always pick up all my playthings
And so…
I will show you another
Good trick that I know!”
Then we saw him pick up
All the things that were down…

And he put them away.
Then he said, “That is that.”
And then he was gone
With a tip of his hat.

Own your messes. Clean them up.

The Cat in the Hat didn’t have to worry back in 1957 that “Sally and I” were going to tweet the world about what an annoying, irresponsible cat he was, crippling his ability to bring fun to other homes.

As a business owner in 2015, you do. Try to ignore or cover up customer complaints? They’ll bite you back. Hard. On the other hand, if you acknowledge, apologize and make things right for the customer, you’ll make things right for your business too. Check out these great examples and a few more about companies that turned customer unhappiness into growth opportunities.

That’s it. The Cat in the Hat is out of the bag. Take his tricks… and make them yours.

aviva-lgSubmitted by Aviva