Could Your Marketers Recognize Your Customers?
I have been thinking a lot recently about how important it is to always (and yes, I’m pretty passionate about this) always always start with the customer perspective, but sadly, noticing how often we can forget to do so. Generally as marketers we are well-intentioned, we are not generally evil people! My experience has shown that with marketing in support of technology innovations, there can be a tendency to maniacal focus on extolling the features of our beloved products and how they work. We do so because it is something to be proud of – it is the essence of engineered innovation, but the down side is we lose site of what matters – value to the customer. When we are not customer centric in our approach, well…it shows, and it is often a waste of valuable marketing resource, and even worse – it can turn our prospective customers off because they perceive that we just do not “get them.”
I’m reading a recommendation by a friend, @cloudclint, titled The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. The book has a number of very intriguing ideas about how to approach product development, but the foundation is a concept that Ries calls starting with the “value hypothesis” test – whether a product or service really delivers value to the customer in their eyes once they are using it. My experience has been that this should be foundational to any marketing as well.
Do your marketeers (or you if you are one) really know what your “customer” looks like? By “customer,” I mean the human beings that are decision makers, supporters, beneficiaries of the businesses that you target to buy your stuff. Can you prototype their hopes, fears, career aspirations, educational background, and risk profiles accurately?
If you (or your marketing teams) fail the test to describe those customers, do not lose hope or give up on them – but do send them on a road trip! Put a marketer in the car/plane with a sales executive and let them meet the real thing – a buying customer! It can do wonders for your marketing effectiveness!