Call us
020 8906 6768

Learning from your customers

Most businesses fail and  most new products fail to sell or make a profit.

When it comes to small businesses the main reason for the failure is a lack of understanding of EXACTLY what the customer wants and how much they are prepared to pay.

The key cause of this lack of understanding is the mindset of the business owner. They maintain the employee mentality of if they put the time and effort in they will get paid.

The typical approach is to launch a business or product that the business owner wants, or believes is good for the target market. They may be right but that approach doesn’t guarantee the market will find the offer interesting, let alone compelling.

But, it doesn’t need to be that way; you can test before you bet the business. And, the fastest way to test is to talk with prospective customers.  Nothing will get you up to speed as quick as talking to real people who have real needs.

The truth is that most of us sit in our Ivory Towers behind our computers and telephones thinking. However, as it turns out our prospective customers will tell us for free what they want and how much they are willing to pay.

The key is asking questions like:

  • What is your biggest fear or frustration?
  • What effect is that having on the business and you?
  • What is your dream result?
  • What would you be prepared to pay to get the result you want?


The key is to listen carefully and make lots of notes. The words used by the market are the words you should use to market.

The problem is this requires two things:

First, we need to acceptance that we do not have all the answers, our customers do.

Second, we need to face our internal fears of rejection and shyness.

Everyone of us has deep seated fears and apprehensions. We have fear of confrontation and do not want to annoy or upset anyone. We think it is best to sit on our own and figure things out ourselves because we are not brought up to go and ask people these types of questions.

That may be good social behaviour but that is not going to get anyone motivated enough to pay you money.

So, the first thing to do is to get over our internal issues and we can do this by reading books, listening to audio programmes and attending networking events.  We need to be comfortable outside our comfort zone.

The trick is to understand that our long-term success depends on this. And, understand that doing this now is much easier than waiting because the fear will grow.

We absolutely must understand exactly what is driving our customers and what they want. When we know this “word for word” our marketing will be very powerful.

The answers we get from the questions we ask may not be what we expect and are likely to be irrational. But, you will start to see things more clearly.

For example, a lawyer can say “I help people with divorce” or they can say “I help women who are going through a divorce get their husband back and save their marriage”.

I do not say “I help people with their accounts”, instead I say that “I help business owners gain financial independence”.

Keep in mind that our negative feelings of asking questions are because we have been taught it is rude. That is great in the sense you are playing the role of a good member of society but you are robbing yourself of the knowledge you need to help people.

If people think they will get what they want they will answer questions and be very open. However, they won’t talk about their biggest fears and frustrations if they don’t think talking with you will get them closer to what they want.

People will do anything to get what they really want. They will be glad to answer your questions. They will be pleased that someone is listening to them.

So, talk to at least one person a day, preferably three.