Your Audience is Selfish

Jen Dodson

by Jennifer Dodson

Chief Creative Officer

Your audience has needs. Those needs are not about your business, your service, or you at all. It’s about them.

For the sake of this article, let’s assume the person buying from you is happy with his/her job and general life. The basic needs are met and it’s a matter of reaching higher levels of satisfaction and fulfillment. Possibly they are just balancing too much and want some clarity. Perhaps they want a promotion. Maybe they need a more efficient method for freeing up time or just making things easier.

Your product needs to fit into their story

Feature and benefit lists should only exist to defend your value proposition. Your value proposition must align with their needs. Let’s look at some leading examples:

Google was built on the concept of making information more accessible. It applies to everything they are doing. The business model is significantly supported by ad sales. Those sales give us a strong search engine, Gmail accounts, and much more.

Asana, a project management tool, has the mission to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly. Customers can rely on them to make sure new features enhance their capabilities and won’t get in the way.

GoldieBlox is on a mission to correct the gender imbalance in engineering. From the products they sell to the content they produce and organizations they support, everything works towards this. Customers who share this pain make a point to buy those products, even when other products could accomplish the same thing.

Airbnb wants to connect people all over the world through a community marketplace. It says nothing about providing a place for people to stay, there are hotels for that. It goes deeper to the concept of “Belong Anywhere” and works in a way hotels can’t.

Think about your product. What are you helping customers accomplish? Why does that matter? Now, think about how to translate that to your marketing. Address the reason someone is buying instead of focusing on what they are buying.

You have to listen

You need to partner with your customers. Listen to them and engage.

To do this, you need to do more than grant your team permission to engage with customers on a personal level. Give them the responsibility to look out for the customer’s best interest to your sales, customer service, account teams, and anyone else who interacts with customers. Having everyone involved in this ensures opportunities don’t pass by without consideration.

Zappos did this by removing limits on sales calls and letting the team talk to customers without a script. Basecamp did this by focusing on making its core product as strong as possible for it’s defined customer. Chic-fil-a started a service where you can order in advance and have a table waiting for you, making it that much easier for a parent traveling alone to dine with children.

Some companies create an email account or drop box where ideas can be submitted, a few have formal meetings to pitch ideas, others do a wall so there is a strong visual. Figure out what system works best for your team and let leadership organize, prioritize, and inspire.

With your whole team listening to your customers and your leadership listening to your team, magic happens.

For your business

Start Small

I fully understand that not every company can implement things like a large corporation. I promise there are little things you can do. At Adashmore Creative we work with our clients on a Customer Experience Journey. We look through everything that happens from prospect to advocate and find opportunities for improvement. Think of it like a 50,000 mile inspection. Tightening a screw here and lubricating a thingamajig there improves performance without a major overhaul.

Explore multiple options with a diverse team

Just be careful where you invest. You’ve probably heard the engineering empty cardboard box story. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, involve people of all levels in the process. Put every possible idea on the board. Yes, I do mean write them down. Then sift through the ideas until you get a few that make sense from a time, money, and resource perspective. Give everyone a chance to implement and reward actions that make a difference.

Never Stop

Technology evolves and shifts expectations. People get sick of routine. Make sure you are regularly evaluating ways to keep up with your selfish customer. How often and how in-depth depends on your business model and sales cycle. We suggest smaller routine check-ins with substantial reviews at practical intervals. For one company that might mean weekly huddles with monthly team reviews and an annual retreat. For another it’s a quick monthly meeting and a twice-a-year deeper dive.