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SCI-FI Method: How To Grow Your Local Business with Local Lead Generation

Credit: Forbidden Planet 1956

Reading Time: 10 minutes

In business it is easy to cater to people that look, act and smell(perhaps) as we do. We’re going to talk about a scientific approach for dealing with this fiction and helping your business grow through psychographics.



“No, I didn’t do that.”


The most impactful phrases of your life are so extraordinarily cruel while remaining utterly efficient, aren’t they?


I was a junior in high school, feeling the future on the wind along with a number of yet-named desires.


Along with mentally cycling through my imaginings of college life, I was a lovelorn teenager, who entertained the idea I’d one day “go steady” with someone–anyone. I was on the football team, for God’s sakes — varsity no less. But nothing ever seemed to flow my way.


Then one day, one of my football teammates told me there was a note for me outside the locker room. I went to investigate.


Outside the men’s locker room was a note scribbled in White-Out. It was all about how amazing I was in the last game, how cute I was, and featured heart doodles. The most important fact, though, was that the author had apparently signed her name to it.


Is this for real”, I wondered at first. I mean, it looked like a girl’s handwriting. Once I began to entertain the idea this might indeed be the real article, my heart fluttered a bit.


I was stunned, carrying a smile with me for the rest of the day.


“Who is this girl?” I asked my fellow football players in the locker room, in class, and wherever I could catch them.


Most hadn’t a clue–until I found 1 or 2 who could point me in the right direction


“Oh, it’s that girl,” one fellow pointed out in the cafeteria. She was aglow, brown curly hair straight out of one of those commissioned royal paintings from the Renaissance–and she liked me–I couldn’t believe it.


This was going to be easy. This was going to be great. After checking my varsity jacket for lint, I strode to the lunch line where she stood waiting with a friend. I weaved my way around the tall metal beams meant to keep students flowing toward the cash register and caught her attention.


“I heard you were supportin’ me at the last football game,” I began clumsily.


I remember her friend squinting at me as though I were speaking a foreign language.


“What are you talking about?” asked her friend.


“He’s saying that I was cheering for him at the football game,” explained the glowing one.


She got it. She got it!


Then she said it.


“That wasn’t me. No, I didn’t do that.”


When I walked back, defeated, to my seated party, no one laughed or claimed responsibility. Just another disappointment in the irreverent rolodex of experience that was high school.


While it would never be totally sure what happened that day, one thing from that episode is clear: I allowed what appeared to be evidence lead me a fiction of my own making.


We do the same in business at such a regular clip, it’s become standardized.



The SCI-FI Method: The Fiction


Note: For honesty’s sake, I want to point out that you might find some contradictory material on this site regarding Buyer’s Personas. Marketing is both art and science and I am continually working through my understanding on the issue and will report back once I’ve tested out some assumptions regarding the subject.


Inside your business, there is a rampant fiction that’s been created. This business is mostly due to the business owner and the people they’ve attracted to this point (usually folks that are just like them).


I’ll use a real-life example here. Years ago, I was working with a coworking space owner on his marketing. We came up with the traditional buyer persona based upon what he knew about his best customers. It read


Buyer Persona: Remote Worker Richard


    • ·         4 year College-educated
    • ·         Mid-High level designer/marketer/software
    • ·         Slightly skews single/unmarried
    • ·         Short stint in corporate world <2 years


    • ·         Skews male, 25 to 35
    • ·         Income: $40K to 80K


    • ·         Podcast listeners
    • ·         Into humor writing
    • ·         Reads Reddit
    • ·         Up to date on current internet memes
    • ·         DIY Attitude
    • ·         Not into small talk, likes purposeful talk


    • ·         Feeling left out, neglected
    • ·         Working different time zones from teammates, really early mornings
    • ·         Might be concerned about job security

How I can help:

    • ·         Flexible scheduling, any time of day, 24/7 access
    • ·         Provide connection to a team and community
    • ·         Help them build network to improve security

Common Objectives:

    • ·         Don’t want to pay monthly expenses (but companies pay for it)
    • ·         Don’t want to deal with hassle of parking/driving
    • ·         People want to project the image of a remote professional office

Real Quotes

    •  “I have to travel a lot”
    • “Don’t see my teammates”


Note: To add some context, this was a traditional no-frills coworking space operating out of a twentieth century duplex. It had a downhome feel without any pompousness—the only events they had were potlucks and the owner was the kind of guy who believed McDonald’s and 7-Eleven were fine dining experiences.


We worked using this persona for a long time and had some success. However, in the back of our minds, I think we found it a bit odd that it never seemed  to reach any typical remote workers in the area. For some reason we just weren’t appealing.


I now believe Tony Robbins in his business mastery program when he notes that the limitations of a business reflects the limitations of its owner.  That is why understanding the best new customers in your area is critical to your growth; because if left unchecked, you will automatically create a business that fits your style and predilections– and not that of your new customers.


Looking at the buyer persona now, I can see it was almost an identical reflection of the guy who started the business: a male avid podcast listener with a passion for thrift and fondness for tech.


The SCI-FI Method: The Science


It wasn’t until years later  I would discover a set of amazing scientific tools that didn’t leave understanding potential local buyers to guesswork. The best thing is that many of these tools were free such as the ESRI Zip code Lookup tool using Tapestry Segmentation




By looking at the findings from this tool alone, I was able to discover a lifestyle group (based on psychographics)  that was most aligned with the space’s work goals, based on the zip code data.


Some Key Findings


This lifestyle group had the following general characteristics:


  • A median age is 32.5.
  • Found social status to be very important.
  • Were more likely to be from an ethnically diverse background.
  • Top earners in this group worked in computers, mathematics, finance, and management.
  • Were likely to enjoy wine bars.
  • Owned a Mac computer.
  • Shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • Were likely into yoga , Pilates, and skiing.


Can you see the opportunities for improvement?


Now, I’ll say it here and now–the reason most of us go into business is to express our unique values and creativity to the world. We want to create a space of belonging for us and others that didn’t originally exist–I get that and wouldn’t recommend that this business owner compromise on his vision.


But perhaps there are new avenues and growth opportunities here he would be willing to explore — those would be great places to start.

SCI-FI Method: How To Grow Your Local Business with Local Lead Generation


In the SCI-FI Method, I recommend you take the fictional current customer type that you’ve created within your business and place it at point A. Then take your scientific local lifestyle group and place it at point B and see if there is any common ground where they might meet to create growth.


A (Current Customer) → | Growth Opportunities | ← ( Local Lifestyle Group) B


What does it look like?


Imagine Mikhail owns a hamburger shop in town, he delivers the best double bacon cheeseburgers within 35 miles, hands-down. Review sights love him. Everything seems great. The problem is that when he looks at his numbers, they seem erratic. He wants to grow but doesn’t know how.


When he looks at his current customers, they tend to be


  • Between the ages of 40 and 55.
  • Discount shoppers who adore value and his 99 cent burgers.
  • Workers in transportation, construction and facilities services.


Now, for the sake of simplicity, say Mikhail’s best new customer was the lifestyle group we’d mentioned before. Remember they


  • Were likely to enjoy wine bars.
  • Owned a Mac computer.
  • Shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • Were likely into yoga , Pilates, and skiing.


What could Mikhail do?


He might decide to learn more about this type of person and get some groceries at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for 2 weeks. While he’s there,he could notice all the gluten-free options they have. And with this knowledge, he could offer to upcharge patrons for the option of gluten-free buns for their burgers. 


Presumably, Mikhail could run this small test and grow his business without turning off his current customers.

Note: depending on the business, building an expert presence could also help.