Know Thy Customer, Know Thyself
"Success is when you have enough money and you love what you're doing... it's not about becoming a millionaire, it's about loving what I'm doing." - Lisa Bobb
This week for Female Founders, Lisa Bobb, the owner of Squash Blossom Boutique in Decatur, Georgia and Grant Park in Atlanta, Georgia, shared her experience as a business owner. Lisa conducted customer discovery to create archetypes of her customers that informed all significant business decisions from product selection to pricing. A great listener, many of Lisa’s sentences started with, “I heard…”. By listening to her customers, Lisa was able to expand her business and successfully pivot during Covid-19 shutdowns.
Lisa’s positive energy took over the virtual screen as her passion for her business stakeholders showed with every sentence. A refugee from an IT role in corporate America, Lisa Bobb was laid off in 2015 and turned this into an opportunity to pursue her own dream. She bought Squash Blossom in Decatur and became a CEO of everything, aka a small business owner.
Lisa had a dream of buying right off the runway and bringing high fashion to the boutique. However, she immediately realized that Decatur is a more casual crowd and that’s not what people would buy. Lisa wanted to get to know her customers to identify how she could fill their needs and grow her business. Facebook identified 800,000 “audience members” in her defined demographic in the Atlanta area, and Lisa has been able to grow her customer list to 8,000 email addresses. Additionally, Lisa spent 3-4 years interacting with customers in her stores so she could get to know them. Over this time, Lisa developed 80 client relationships on a first name basis where she could recognize customers on sight and understand who are the people behind the names.
Based on her knowledge gleaned from spending time with her customers, Lisa identified 4-6 archetypes. She now makes business decisions based on these archetypes. These decisions include product selection, comms channel, price point, size ranges, and incentive plans. Each time Lisa goes to purchase products or do marketing, she thinks of one or multiple of her customer archetypes.
Boutiques are special, intimate places where women come in to try on clothes and end up sharing stories about their life. Because Lisa talks to her customers she said, “I know exactly where to take them in the store when they arrive so they can feel like, ‘oh yeah, this is for me.’” Lisa stated that every business could invite customers behind the scenes by creating a VIP customer group, engaging on social media, collaborating, or having human to human conversations.
When Covid-19 hit and took the country by surprise, Lisa was able to pivot because of her deep knowledge of customers. She knew they wouldn’t go online to buy notepads or other products that she had sitting in her store inventory, so she instead bundled them and created cute Squash Boxes that people could send to their loved ones to show they’re thinking of them even when they are not able to be physically together. The Squash Boxes were a hit and Lisa had to restock her inventory to meet demand!
At the conclusion of her presentation, participants engaged in a conversation with Lisa from everything on how she delegates responsibilities to how she chose a second store location. Lisa’s intention in getting to know her customers and meet their needs where they are is inspiring—and through her presentation she motivated early entrepreneurs to do the same.
You can visit Lisa’s Atlanta stores in Decatur Square or Grant Park, and follow her on Instagram @squashblossomboutique.
“I love a challenge and secretly feel like I can do anything.” Lisa Bobb left us with a message from which we can all learn.