Posted by Becky Carroll on June 25, 2007
We humans see everything through our own personal prisms (experiences, preferences, prejudices, moods, hormonal fluctuations). That means everything – life, business, religion, politics…someone’s choice of socks…
Customers are always wearing a different “hat”, or looking through a personal prism. I may be a businesswoman and blogger now, but in 30 minutes, I may be picking up the kids with my “mom” hat on my head and trying to decide what is for dinner.
How I perceive what someone has to offer is based on my point of view, prism, or customer lens. Marketing is most effective when it looks past our demographics, even our behaviors, and looks to showing us how a product or service can meet our needs. When I am wearing my business hat, I am not going to be interested in the email from a retailer who has an online sale (at that moment). When I am trying to get my DSL line up and running again, I am not going to be interested in a discussion about getting my cell phone switched over to that carrier.
Valeria Maltoni of Conversation Agent has a good example of understanding others from the world of photography. In her post on what we can learn from the Italian photographer Guido Harari, she shares this insight about his portraits, which applies equally well to understanding customers:
It’s about the subject, the person in the photograph, not about the photographer. When we approach a project, are we patient enough to look at it from a natural angle? In other words, can we let go of our opinions and biases and immerse ourselves into the question, the problem posed? Are we in listening mode?
If you are listening to your customers, you will begin to understand them. When you really understand them, you understand these things:
- The lenses they are currently using to view your offer
- Their needs in this situation
- What they are trying to accomplish
Listen, don’t talk.
Focus on their needs, not yours.
Care for others, and they’ll care about you.
Provide value, and you’ll be valued.
I couldn’t agree more.
(Photo credit: nruboc)