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Marketers, Talk to Your Customers

When was the last time you talked to your company’s customers or prospects? I mean you, personally, had a phone or in-person conversation with the people who are interested in or currently using your products?

Many marketers think they should be behind the scenes, unknown to the prospects and buyers that they are creating messages for. 

It makes no sense.

If you aren’t talking to your customers, how do you know what you should say to them? You are publishing articles, ads, emails, webinars, with theoretical messages in mind…”We think our customers want to know this.” Or, worse, company-focused topics ”We want our prospects to know this."

One of the first things the team at Think Better does when we start new work with a client is customer discovery. We hold a series of customer and prospect interviews. We don’t send a survey or an email or take second-hand information from our client. We get on a phone call with the humans who are looking to or have purchased our clients' products to hear how they talk, learn what they care about, and understand the functional, emotional, and social dimensions to the product choices that they make.

These conversations accelerate marketing impact. Direct customer insight is a marketer’s super-power.

But, about half the time, when we kick off a new client project, the client suggests that they “have already done customer research” They don’t want us to focus on more customer research. What we end up facing, after two or three months, is big gaps in the understanding of the customer. This shows up as average marketing performance results, a lack of direction and focus on content and content delivery, and constant redirection of efforts in an attempt to orient. Orient toward what?

There’s nothing to orient toward if you don’t know your destination, the customer. 

Ultimately, a marketer’s job is to communicate. And, to communicate well, you must truly, deeply, know the person you’re communicating with. To do that, you have to talk to your customers. You can't “hack” customer insights. 

Marketers should not hide behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz, trying to gather second-hand information from the product, sales, or customer support teams. Get out there with the rest of them! 

You have to see and hear, first-hand, in order to be seen and heard. 

MarketAndrea Steffes-Tuttle