When I Don’t Know My Customer

I look stupid.

Really, really, really stupid.

I tried writing some copy for our customer base, and had someone in the industry take a look. They laughed and said, “I don’t think this guy knows what he is talking about or who he is talking to.” That stings, but it’s a good dose of humility.

Seth Godin says that the essence of marketing is “people like us do things like this.” But what happens if you *aren’t* one of those people? What happens where the culture and climate of who you are serving isn’t who you intrinsically are?

The first thing is to be patient. Falling in love, if done well, takes time. That’s why the liberal NPR host can marry the Trump-voting Afghanistan veteran, but maybe she wouldn’t think of him initially.

Second thing, is to realize that if you “aren’t” one of them by custom, you can become one of them by love. One of the most essential ways to love is to try to understand. If I try and understand something or someone, I begin to develop an appreciation or love for it.

There are basic ways to develop this love. For example: read the things they are reading, learn why they are doing what they are doing. Tell them you appreciate what they do. Figure out what things they need. Find out what their own “love languages” really are. This doesn’t mean you have to end up as one of them, but just that you have to seek them.

However, we cannot miss three essential points that will aid in understanding:

  • What does the customer want? No, what do they really want.
  • What is good about what they want? Think about it.
  • What is their internal motivation? Why do they want it personally / emotionally.
  • What is their external motivation? What functionally makes them want this.
  • What is their philosophical motivation? Why do they do it on a big picture? Can you speak to that?

If we don’t understand these things, then we cannot respond to their need. However, our understanding will be incomplete unless we have the motivation given by…..love.


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