What Is It You Want From Or For Your Customer?


Sunday, 8.38pm

Sheffield, U.K.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care – Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing and he has a very nice lime just hidden away on page 75.

It reads: “… what people want is to be understood and to be served, not merely to witness whatever you feel like doing in a given moment.”

I think that line is useful enough to stop and reflect on it for a minute.

Use it to think about how you execute your marketing strategy, for example.

If you’re putting out content is it because what you want is for your customers to give you their undivided attention?

In your head are the flows of attention coming from your customers to you?

I suppose if you run a successful YouTube channel that’s exactly what’s happening.

Or if you’re a celebrity that already has attention flowing in then it’s a logical enough approach.

If you’re not, however, if you sell electrical services or drainage or carpet cleaning does that make any sense?

Or are you better off focusing your attention on the customer and working with partners to meet the customer’s needs more effectively?

You’ve already worked this out but in the picture above Y is for you, C is for customer and P is for partner.

I think this simple model can actually go a long way towards helping us plan modern marketing, especially since everything is so focused on content.

How much of your content is about you – about your history, your products and your skills?

And how much of your content is about helping the customer with what they need.

After all, before you can help them you need to understand what they need in the first place.

And to do that you need to study them.

And I’m not sure it’s as simple as using segmentation and words ending in graphics – like demographics, psychographics and infographics.

And I’m not sure it’s just about personas either like smart susan and joker joe, which are thin stereotypes – carboard masks stuck onto cartoon personalities – that completely miss the real people they try to represent.

When it comes down to it understanding is about going deeper than that, doing research that is in-depth and thoughtful.

Because here’s the thing – the end result, the holy grail for marketers is having empathy with the customer.

And empathy comes from understanding.

Now, you can shortcut your way to empathy if you are the customer – after all, you would hope you understand yourself.

But it’s not really that easy to understand someone else – not for those of us with a technical background and fewer social skills anyway.

For us, we need to work at it.

Two papers from my collection that might help if you’re interested in doing this are How to study an organisation and Studying Organisations Using Soft Systems Methodology.

Both of these papers are about methods to have deep conversations with customers – and figure out what would make their lives better.

Because once you know that you can build a business around serving them.

And that’s probably a better strategy than waiting for them to realise how magnificent you are and follow you in droves.


Karthik Suresh

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