Using Groundhog Day to grow your business


We all know the story of Groundhog Day. If you don't, why not!? This could be my favourite film. A story of a man reliving the same day - Groundhog Day, again and again.

But how does this teach us about client relationships and giving value to our audience?

When Phil (Bill Murray) focuses purely on what he wants, it doesn't work. Nobody cares about Phil when he is selfish and has his own interests at heart. Even when he tries to give them what he thinks they will like, he fails because his intention is wrong.

He is just faking it to get what he wants. This can be seen when he tries to convince Andie McDowell's character Rita, to fall in love with him.

It's only when he's patient enough to take the time to understand what people want and why does he get somewhere. He stops trying to force people to like him, but instead he puts them first.

When he talks about knowing everyone in the town, it's great. He has taken the time to get to know them, but it's only when he starts to do something to help them, does he start to use this knowledge effectively.

The ultimate payoff is when he gives them exactly what they want, exactly at the right time. He isn't forcing the situation, but instead he is picking the best moment to give it to them.

It's about content and context.

  • The guy choking
  • The boy falling from the tree
  • The women who have broken down
  • The man who needs a cigarette

He is able to give them what they need, just at the right time.

He is only able to do this because he takes the time to observe and listen to the people around him, by putting their needs ahead of his own and then acting upon what he has learned.

Everyone does this. It's natural to put our own needs first, but in business it won't help you grow.

In my previous articles I have talked about how a good designer puts the needs of the client ahead of their own. They help the client by solving their problems AND enabling them to achieve their goals. Too many designers please themselves and then wonder why they aren't attracting new and better clients.

  • Are you watching and listening to your audience?
  • Do you know what they want before they ask?
  • Can you give them something that they not only value, but need right at that exact moment?

The best example for me is when he gives the young newlywed couple a surprise gift of Wrestlemania tickets.

There is no better feeling than giving someone something that you know they will love. I always recommend getting to know your clients personally. Once I know what makes them tick, I can go about giving them something they will appreciate.

For example, I was offering advice to a client who is a wedding photographer recently. We were discussing what he could offer to his clients to make his service more memorable. We talked about his process during the wedding day shoot and I asked if he was able to print off any photos of the wedding on the same day whilst still at the venue.

He said that he never touched the photos until he had got home and backed them up.  I wanted him to be able to give the happy couple a memento of the day that they could take on honeymoon while he was processing the photos.

 Perfect for a wedding box.

Perfect for a wedding box.

I suggested that if he was able to get a nice small box in advance, he could fill it with memorabilia from the wedding - confetti, menus, placeholders, used champagne corks etc along with a series of photos that they could enjoy on honeymoon while they waited for him to process the full set.

He said that he could use a Polaroid camera and keep taking photos throughout the day with it when he was taking the main shots. Perfect!

But what about if he went even further.

What about if the groom was a huge Arsenal fan and he was able to get a video message from Ian Wright or Theirry Henry wishing the happy couple congratulations?

The shock, surprise and complete adoration that would happen if he was able to pull this off would be amazing. Not only is it a fantastic and sincere gesture, but the bond between them goes far deeper.

The quality of testimonial would be astounding. They would continually recommend him to others and everyone at the weeding would see it and would recommend him. One considered gesture could result in 10 bookings over the next few years. That's quite a return on a little bit of hard work and is surprisingly easy if the clip below is anything to go by!

Content & Context

So what sort of information should you be looking to find out?

Well, firstly it has to be positive. Nothing with bad memories or connotations. Stick to something straightforward that you can both relate to. As you get to know each other better there will be something more significant and emotive that you can use, but initially it's about paying attention.

Here is a list to get you started:

  • Teams they support
  • Music they enjoy
  • Actors and films they love
  • Books they've read
  • People they admire
  • Places they go regularly
  • Where they grew up
  • Hobbies
  • Holidays - places they've been to or want to visit.
  • Pets
  • Children
  • Childhood memories or nostalgia.
  • Clothing
  • Personal stories they may have told you

Where to find this info?

Social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Ask questions. When chatting just pay attention and make mental notes.

When to apply it?

Getting to know client or job interview.
When you are first getting to know someone it's always useful to have a few 'go to' topics up your sleeve in case the conversation dries up. Again, don't force in the fact you know something about them, just ask an open ended question that will bring the conversation round to that topic.

Writing articles with themes people are genuinely interested in.
Listening to your audience is key to creating content that is importantly to them. The more something resonates and speaks to their heart and head, the more chance of it being shared and recommended.

Offering advice - listening, then being helpful.
Not always giving the hard sell, but instead being genuine. Read comment on social media feeds and engage with them.

Wish people a nice day as they go out house hunting or recommend a local butcher or recipe to someone planning on having a BBQ.

They will not only appreciate the advice as it's relevant to what they are interested in, at a time when it's applicable (content & context) but they are more likely to click on your profile and then your website organically.

If they like what they find, they may sign up for your newsletter and could even turn into a potential customer.


Once you know what they like, give them what they value at the right time. Remember I mentioned this in the beginning with the ladies who break down, the man choking and the lady needing a cigarette?

I love burgers, but not for breakfast.

Timing is everything. Remember, you are gathering information so you can give the client something they appreciate, at the right time. It is so you can enhance your service and deepen your relationship with them.

Look at your process, what you do and try and think of when is a good time to make the gesture? Judgement of this gesture is huge. Don't come off as too keen or 'stalker-ish', just have confidence in what you are doing.

To Sum up

It doesn't have to be a huge gesture, just well timed and relevant to them.

If your intentions are sincere, then you'll be fine. The whole point of this advice is so that you can go above and beyond what your competitors offer, so you stand out and are able to grow your business through stronger, more meaningful connections.

Thad Cox2 Comments