Five ways you are not your customer…

You are not your customer. This may sound a strange thing to say, but one reason business owners, founders – and even marketers – sometimes struggle to articulate what they do (and why it’s needed) is because they use themselves as a proxy for their clients and customers. 

So they say things like: “Well I wouldn’t be interested in that.” Or: “Well, I think the minute detail of my product is interesting…”

Which means they end up building an offer that makes sense to them, but doesn’t to the people they want to do business with. So their website is overly technical, they talk about the technology or clever thinking behind a product – and not what that translates to for customers. 

And if your customer doesn’t get what’s in it for them, you’re going to find it difficult to get them interested in you.

So here are some things to remember if you find yourself falling into thinking that starts with: “Well I…”

1. You are conscious of the gap you’re filling. Your customer isn’t, necessarily.

You looked at a situation and identified something that could be done better. Then you created a business to deliver it. Your customer may not know that the gap exists – which means your thinking is ahead of theirs, and may remain ahead of theirs. Don’t assume your customer knows they need your thing. Don’t think because the need is obvious to you that it is to them.

2. Your focus is different from your customer’s.

Like a proofreader who is more interested in typos on the menu than what’s being cooked in the kitchen, business owners and founders can focus on very different things than their customers.

3. You have spent months and years understanding your offer. Your customer might give you a couple of minutes, if you’re lucky.

So don’t make it hard. Don’t try to show how clever you are. Make it easy to understand the relevance of your offer in seconds.

4. To you, your company is your life – or a big part of it. For your customer, it’s just something else to fit into the day.

So be memorable. Become useful with valuable content, ideas, reminders and inspiration. Create a philosophy that customers identify with and want to be a part of.

5. Of course your customer will want the details before they enter into a big contract with you. But to get them interested in the first place, tell them what your thing will help them to do or have.

Shiny hair, more customers, greater efficiencies, an easy way to cut out a middleman. Talk to them about benefits rather than features.

If you’re looking for customer insight – ask them. Talk to them, send surveys, hang out in communities where you know they’ll be. Build debriefing sessions into your process. Just don’t ever assume you have the same needs and views as the people you want to be your customers.

You might also find these posts and FAQs useful:

Why is it important to know your customers?

Start-up branding: The challenges new companies can face

Customers and commercial environments