As marketers, we sometimes forget that we have an unnatural perspective about our brands. We think about them every day. We consider in depth, our customer’s motivations to purchase, heuristic decision attributes, behavioural or emotional drivers. We think about how or why their use of our product seems to be evolving differently over time.
Here’s the thing, though: customers simply don’t have the same relationship with our products as we do. Sure, there are super-dedicated fans of our products out there, who like nothing better than to share their ideas and opinions with us. They’re even willing to evangelize to others. But at the end of the day, they have their own jobs to do, their own products to sell, or their own ideas to generate. They just can’t devote the depth of thought to our products that we can. What does that mean for customer research, or customer-listening projects? It means that sometimes they really don’t have a deep psychological or emotional reason for choosing our product over someone else’s. They buy it because it’s their only option to solve a particular problem. Or because they got to the store and they remembered our package, and not someone else’s. Or because they have a long-term contract with a channel that stocks our product, and not the competitor’s product.
So remember, it’s important, critical in fact, to listen to customers. But let’s speak plainly. Sometimes they can’t answer our questions effectively – not because they don’t know the answer, but because we’re asking about something that’s just not that important to their day to day world. Find the right questions, the ones that matter, and we’ll get a host of useful information – if only we’re courageous enough to give customers what they want, instead of trying to make them take what we’ve already got.
Megann & Steve