Be Your Own Customer

“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two-thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one-third thinking about what I want to say.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Think Like a Customer

It seems simple.

If you’re selling a product or service, you need to understand the consumer, especially your loyal customers, and give them exactly what they want.

Surprisingly, many businesses decide first what to sell, then decide how to sell it, and finally, automatically expect consumers to buy it.  Whether the consumer has their needs met or not often is not included anywhere in the process.

The basics of marketing will never change.  And although the addition of evolving technologies gives companies more avenues to use for selling, the important factors for successful selling requires companies to execute the same historical marketing basics:

  • getting to know customers better;
  • developing their trust.
  • Helping them in the buying process

As it has always been, the entire process requires you to think like the customer.

How to Think Like a Customer

Go to where your customer is. You should know who your ideal customer is (marketers might call this a target persona).  But where are these people? Which social networks do they use? What publications do they read? What communities are they part of? Where do they go for information?

How do you find this information? Ask, don’t assume. Survey folks on your e-mail or mailing list. Invite customers to a meal. Or, pick up the phone and ask.

Know what your customers will need.  In other words, be there before the sale. You can apply this concept (based loosely on Wayne Gretzky’s comment, “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been”) in numerous ways. I think of it as anticipating your customers’ needs and serving them before they even know they need you.

How do you do this? By answering both the questions they have and those they should have when they’re looking to buy.

Focus on quality customers.  While customers may vary and may lurk in many places around the web–Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, discussion groups–some customers are better than others. Most have constrained budgets and limited resources. So, focus your efforts on the membership groups and social media avenues that will benefit you the most.

The Bible

How we think and what we think about is important to God.  The problem is that our brains are not the most trustworthy source of good thoughts.

I know that is a hard concept to comprehend, but we are all guilty of allowing our minds to lead us astray, just like telling us what the customer wants instead of allowing the customer to tell us what they need.

Philippians 4:8 says.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

As business leaders and entrepreneurs, we need to make sure our thoughts are on the right things.

One of the most important things to think about is what our clients and customers need from us.  And along the way, we also need to make sure we always keep our thoughts on things that are true and honorable.