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The Transformational Consumer

Tara-Nicholle Nelson hails from Oakland near San Francisco. She is founder and CEO of Transformational Consumer Insights. She has written a new business book called The Transformational Consumer.

Tara has a Masters Degree in Psychologist and a phd from the University of California. Tara has been both lawyer and marketing director. She is the archetypal Transformational Consumer. Tara-Nicholle has also worked for Trulia, a real-estate business and is on the board of a food justice non-profit, City Slicker Farms. Tara was the first marketing director for MyFitnessPal, whose fortunes she helped transform.

Who is the Transformational Consumer?

Transformational Consumer is the most valuable and least understood customer of our time. Collectively they buy $4 trillion in life-improving products and services every year in the US.

Transformational Consumers are a massive group of people who see life as a series of projects to change their lives to become healthier, wealthier and wiser. Examples:

  • Eating better
  • Exercising more
  • Losing weight
  • Saving more money
  • Investing more wisely
  • Career development
  • Being a better citizen of the world

The key is to think like these transformational consumers think – very broadly.

Tara has found that 50% of the US consumers identify as transformational products, inasmuch as they are using digital or real-world products several times a week in an effort to realise their transformational healthy, wealthy or wise goals.

It is not a niche.

Tara tells us that most entrepreneurs and most people who listen to podcasts are transformational consumers. Transformational consumers are people who believe they can transform almost anything about their lives, as long as they can get a handle on tools that will help trigger progress towards the goals they are trying to accomplish.

In the world of marketing we live in there is a lot of noise. We seem to be hitting peak content. The more content that is being published right now, the less people engage with it. Yet, most marketers are spending more and more on content.

The problem of human disengagement

Tara believes marketers are falling into the broken belief that digital is the way to solve these problems. i.e. if you have an app, people will care about you, if you’ve got lots of social media followers, or you post the coolest video – that is going to solve your problems. If you just do more digital advertising that will solve the problem. BUT, Tara points out that human disengagement is a human problem.

Disengagement is not a digital problem, it is a human problem, so the solution will not be something from the digital world, it will be a human solution.

Tara believes in digital, but says it is simply a tool. It is human dreams and fears that we must solve as marketers if we want people to care about the things we create.

The hero’s journey

In “The Transformational Consumer”, Tara stresses that we have to recognise that marketing is less about YOUR brand and more about the customer’s journey. Tara talks about a hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey is an archetypal story format resonates particularly well with the human brain. All the great stories follow along the hero’s journey arc. The Hero (your customer:

  • has a challenge or a quest to go on
  • receives a call to this adventure
  • leaves home (aka away from everything the Hero has ever known) and goes along a journey
  • is aided in the quest by mentors, guides, aids and tools
  • experiences battles, including failures and victories
  • returns home victorious with the bounty of their journey, literally bounty or personal changes.

Tara applies the Hero’s journey to advise brands to STOP publishing as much content ABOUT their brand, instead create their marketing and their content programming in a way that positions their customer as the Hero of their own journey.

This shifts perspective of your brand, to become the mentor, guide, aid or tool that facilitates the Hero’s journey, as they take on these quests to get healthier, wealthier and wiser.

What do you need to do?

Rethink. How you sell, market, how you research your customers. Visually map out and document what their real world journey that someone goes through that your brand or company helps solve. Then use that map of the journey to understand where your company can remove obstacles in the way of customers reaching their health, wealth and wiser goals.

The primary aim of the book is to help you fashion a NEW WAY of thinking about your customers. This means you should operate your business in a different way, and think about your competition in a different way and think about your company culture to serve in a different way.

The second aim of the book is to unlock transformational leadership in the people that read it. All the people who read the book are transformational consumers. Transformational brands are built at the interception with the transformational consumer’s journeys.

The book provides permission. There is a movement out there where people want to do good business. But there is not a lot of works out there that instructs that process. The book provides proven approaches as to HOW to build a positive for the world business.

Is this all West Coast of America liberal thinking? Is the book hard enough?

Tara answers this by saying, you can publish all the informative posts about your products as much as you want, but people won’t read them.

Tara references real-world examples of Trulia, the real-estate search engine, where she built the largest real-estate blog in the world. The reason these businesses are successful with content published in this way, is that IT WORKS!

Publishing content and marketing all about your brand all the tie is NOT what customers want. It’s not soft, it’s just the way it works. It is a way that works that is engaging. Employees get engaged too.

Most employees 2 out of 3 – I just don’t care/I hate my employer. They aren’t just making money for a company who is already making a lot of money. The softer approach works by helping to engage employees.

Applying this…

What is the real-world problem that rea people have that your company solves for customers? Focus on all the people who are trying to solve that problem. Zoom out from what you do now.

Tara worked at Trulia, a real estate search engine. The problem they exist to solve is to help customers find listings of homes for sale. But that was NOT how Tara thought of the problem. Tara saw this as helping people make wise choices with respect to the largest transaction they’ll ever make in their lives.

Once you zoom out and YOU see the problem through the same lens as your customers, then you are equipped to get a deep understanding of how they are approaching and solving that problem. That is a lens in which you will see all sorts of opportunities for re-jigging your marketing, developing resources that they will click on and care about. Even developing product features that they actually care about.

The age of companies creating a lot of products then finding a market, just doesn’t work anymore. There are too many companies in every space doing it the other way around.

In the book, Tara advises that companies shift from a PRODUCT FIRST perspective to a PROBLEM FIRST perspective. Every team in your company will need to be very focused on your customers real world problems. It is just fun too. To work against an actual problem.

Tara praises The Next 100 Days Podcast:

“Your podcast is a great example of transformational content. You have sifted and sorted through what the experience of an average leader or marketer or executive is, and you realise that people are scattered, people have a lot of stuff going on, very easy in the day to day lives of the people who listen to this podcast to get distracted, and focus on the things that are very urgent instead of things that are important. So, the idea of taking one thing and focusing deeply on it, for 100 days, is itself a content solution for a real transformational problem that your audience has. That is very different from a podcast that would position itself as say, hey, what we do is focus on a bunch of business stuff. The concept of your brand and your podcast is a perfect example of customer centric content”

Tara explains HUMAN.

HUMAN describes the 5 characteristics of a Transformational Consumer. Tara puts this into context. Transformational consumers see a series of change projects to get healthier, wealthier and wiser. They:

  • Are constantly looking for new things.
  • Tend to by early adopters.
  • Are taking a course, or trying things out.
  • Get asked for recommendations all the time.

If your products/services help them make the transformations they want to make, they will buy it and rave about it to others.

5 specific characteristics to help people understand more about the Transformational Consumer:

H = Healthier, wealthier and wiser. That’s the subject matter of their goals. Transformational consumers are 2-4X more likely to be working on a transformational goal than non-transformational consumers.

U = Unending. It never stops for The Transformational Consumer. 78% of Transformational Consumers set goals ALL the time. 82% of Transformational Consumers feel its important to reach their full potential before they die.

M = Mindset. The Transformational Consumer has an extreme growth mindset. Author, Carol Dweck says humans either have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Fixed people see themselves they are playing the set of cards life dealt them. TCs see growth potential everywhere.

A = Action. The Transformational Consumer has a solid bias to action. TCs are doing something about becoming healthier, wealthier and wiser.

N = Never ending. They aren’t a niche. They are on a never ending search for products and services that will help them transform. Behaviour change is hard and people know it.

Does this translate into the business world?

Definitely. B2B is not a thing. Every decision maker is a HUMAN. That’s why B2B marketing is so bad, they think it’s about communicating to businesses. Tara talked about Slack, an efficiency at work app.

In the next 100 days, what would we do to bring some meaningful change to their organisations.

#1             Get real. Are you truly a product first or problem first company? There are clues.

#2             Rethinking step – what do you do. Your customer rethinking step. This can get messy. Redefine in your own mind your customer any person that is trying to solve a high level problem for which you are a solution.

#3             Research your customers. You may only talk to 10 or 12 people. Ask them what their real world experience is like. Spot patterns and the stages. What gets them unstuck. Where do they go to get unstuck. Listen to their natural language patterns. Those words are probably very different to those you are using.

You sell a transformation to a solution. From having a problem to not having that problem. Document what their real world experience is. After 100 days you will be amazed at the opportunities this approach will provide you.

#4             Incorporate the customers natural language into your content.

e.g. NOT Knee injury BUT Bad knee.

Read Amazon reviews. A growth hack. Supplement your research. Go where your people are online. Reviews are a good place. Reddit, sub-directories, for example. Any big blog communities, online Facebook groups.

If you want to reach more people, don’t just listen to your existing customers. Technical SEO can help you to show up, natural can get people to click on it.

What’s next for Tara-Nicholle Nelson?

Transformational Consumer Insights is her company. She does research and marketing interventions for businesses.

Another goal is unlocking transformational growth experiences for leaders. One is a 30 day writing challenge. Getting a writing task done. There is a set of writing prompts she issues daily. Plus a sabbatical retreats.
Tara helps – One Quarter One Book.

How to get in touch with Tara

Use this link to get a chance of getting a copy of Tara’s book:

The Next 100 Days Podcast is brought to you by Graham Arrowsmith and Kevin Appleby