Would you read an article about yourself?

Of course you would. You would actually want to read it immediately. And your customers are no different from you.


Women contemplating what different beauty products will do for them. What woman would buy a product that she believes would make her look ugly?

What’s the main interest of a customer? Or let me re-phrase the question. What’s your main interest? You know the answer. Yourself. Sounds terrible I know, but all human beings have an interest in what happens in their lives. Be honest, so do you. That doesn’t mean that you are selfish. What would your life be like today if you hadn’t taken an interest in it? No need to say more, is there.

Your customers are also interested in what happens in their lives and how you, your products and services could have a positive impact on them and their lives. Still it is sometimes overlooked.

Marketing is about what your customer wants

If you can show your customer what you can do for them you will not have to do any selling. They will buy. In fact they want to feel they made a purchase, not that you have sold them something. In other words, let the customer feel that they had the idea.

Keep that in mind when you produce you promotional material. Focusing on the customer is, and always has been, the key to successful marketing. It does not matter what you need or want to tell them since the customers priority is what they, not you, need or want. Usually there is no need to tell them bluntly what you can do, there are more subtle ways to get the message across. Ideally they will get the impression that you are sympathetic with their ideas and desires and care about them. It’s not for nothing cosmetics companies sign up beautiful celebrities to promote their products.

Customers want you to care about them

They don’t care that you are very proud about your new office or that you have launched an exciting new product. However, if you invite them to a party at the new office or give them a sample of the new product, they will be interested. Even better if you can show them how your new product will make them more attractive to the opposite sex.

Customers don’t care if your company has had the most successful year ever, unless it has a positive impact on them. You get the drift. Your customers thinks about themselves when they read your advertisement. No need to tell them all the positive aspects of your company, just focus on what impact you can have on their lives and they will be interested. Make them feel happy doing what you would like them to do i.e. lead instead of command.

If they don’t see the positive impact you can have on them and their lives, you are on the wrong track . It’s time to adjust your promotional material to make them see the advantages and purchase. Needless to say, their purchase will be a one off if your products/services don’t have the impact on them that they would like. Or to re-phrase it, if you didn’t like the article written about you, would you be happy with the newspaper that published it?


(Photo: Nathan Branch – Flickr)

79 responses

  1. Selling is all about "What's in it for me?"
    The best approach to answering that eternal question lies in GQ's (Good Quality) and OB's (Owner Benefits).
    As a trained scientist, I had to find a scientific approach to help clients (ladies and gents) understand, that beauty products (cosmoceuticals) can be age defying, but only good customer education sells it the best.

    • Yes, educating your customers to enable them to see what's in it for them and consequently buy your products is a good way of making them feel you care. By doing so you show that you have spent a lot of time, effort and money developing products that will contribute to keeping them look young – which is what they want in the example you give.

  2. Great post Catarina. A wonderful reminder that without the customer, there is no viable business. It HAS to be about them. The more integrity given to them, the better.

  3. I’ve worked with a business consultant for years who always tells me that customers are tuned in to the WIIFM station – (What’s In It For Me) and that’s all they hear. Your headline goes to that point. We all care about our families and ourselves first.

  4. Well put, Catarina – sales people need to understand the concept of a customer's "Lifetime Value" and to focus on the customer's needs and wants, rather than their own…

  5. Good post Catarina and I like the point you made about focussing on the customer has always been important.

    I still think that there is too much emphasis today on the tactics and not having a deep understanding of customer as a priority. If you know how they think, feel and behave it makes marketing your products so services so much easier.

  6. I was thinking about WIIFM example also. Know your customer,know their needs and then meet their needs is the formula that works.

  7. If you can solve your customers problems with your service or problem they will buy. You just need to be tuned in enough to know what your customer needs.

  8. Very well said Catarina. Succinct and very clear. It's especially true that if you can demonstrate how they stand to benefit without going overboard with how great YOU think it is, the sale will take care of itself. When people are actionable, it is because they are primed by a need, desire, or feeling, and how well you can address this will make the difference.

  9. Totally agree with you ,I would like to share an interesting quote to add on the value of our customers "There is only one boss. The customer, and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else” Sam Wal-Mart

  10. Hi Catarina – I like to use William Glasser's reality therapy – comprised of three questions – to help my customers. The first question is "What do you want?" The second, "What are you doing to get what you want?" And, the third, "Is it working?"

  11. Great post Catarina. It's sometimes hard as business people to put ourselves in our customers shoes but in any part of business people are most interested in how things impact on them, it's human nature. The tricky thing sometimes is not everyone is the same so writing articles, creating products etc to suit everyone is the challenge.
    My recent post My top 3 SEO strategies and how I implement them

  12. Ah, yes, it's all about how to jump into the head of the client and think how they think. And then when working for the client, think how the client's clients think … and then do those write-ups accordingly. Of course, easier said than done.
    My recent post Local SEO: Optimizing SEO for central New Jersey

    • Yep, Leora. Not always easy, or fun for that matter. But essential. Sometimes we also have to try to get them to have a look at themselves from the outside. Does for instance a US company operating only in the States have any idea of how their brand is perceived outside the US? If they want to export, they have to have a look at that and be honest with themselves. If not they will fail. And we have to make them understand that:-)

  13. I was reading an article not long ago about the power of the elevator pitch. If you have just a few seconds to deliver your message to someone with the power to change your life, what do you say? People tend to scramble to what they care about most, but if they want to be effective, they should be thinking about what the important person cares about most. The audience is always the most important part of any marketing conversation.
    My recent post Does Being A Lefty Or A Righty Make You A Better Boss?

  14. Someone once said, "Any publicity is good…" but judging by the scandalous political scene in Canada lately, we all know that isn't true! As a writer, I love seeing my name in print. But I equally love writing profiles about others. To me, the story is in the personality of the individual. Everyone is interesting if you ask the right questions. Cheers!
    My recent post the birth of a book

  15. Yes I wood read and listen carefull to any thing about myself and my business. It is the feedback to adjust and improve. Our logion is still " customer confidence is our objective "

  16. Customer focus. It's all about the customer. Make them happy and you make yourself happy.
    My recent post Motivational Monday: iPad mini Giveaway

    • Yes Cheryl. But you also have to concentrate on getting across what interests them, not you. No matter how proud you are of your new producet, the iPad mini doesn't matter. Focus will be on an ordinary stationary computer, because that's what the customer is interested in:-)

  17. I believe it's human to enjoy seeing out name in print in a positive light. It's when it turn negative or nasty things get a bit squishy. I have personally seen both ways. when it pretty nasty it came be very stressful until it's sorted out. :-)

    How this applies to a product or service is relevant to how good the product and or service is. Great product usually garners great press and vice versa.
    My recent post Woodbridge Moscato Wine 2012

  18. This is absolutely spot on Catarina. It is about what the customer wants, not what you want to point out. What would be the point in that?
    My recent post Its been a bugger

  19. In my Baby Boomer blogger life, I'm surprised that my most successful blog posts (judged by level of engagement and page views) are ones that are somewhat personal. Admittedly, given the topic of my blog, perhaps that is because my Boomer experiences resonate for Baby Boomer readers.

    I am also a lawyer and when we recently re-did our firm website, we added a blog on relevant legal topics as a way to bring value to our clients and potential clients. I would think that adding blogs to product or professional services websites can provide information that is of interest to buyers—be it product reviews, technical info or even profiles of employees.
    (Found this post via BHB).
    My recent post Canadians — or at Least, Ontarioians? Ontariesquers? Ontarianites? People from Ontario

    • Yes Suzanne, adding blogs to professional web sites work very well. And has for a long time. The blog enables you to get higher up on SERPs. Do you put yourself in your clients shoes? Ask yourself what they would like from you?

  20. I think that for the most part the sales process is about getting to know the customer and showing them how a relationship with you will benefit them. On the other hand, I've always found that long term engagement and rapport is based on shared communications. Many of my customers are drawn in by my interest in them but ultimately stay connected because of what I'm willing to share with them also. I've had them say "you always ask about me, tell me what's happening with you". This is a sign that the rapport necessary to not only sell once but maintain a long term affiliation has been made!

    So, make it all about them up front and they will love you so much that at some point they make it about you!

    • Exactly, Stephanie. Good point about getting rapport and making them interested in what's happening on your side and building up a long term relationship. But that would not happen if you had only focused on yourself and not on them to start with.

  21. Who was it who said, "The most important sound to any one of us is our own name." In sales it is after all, about helping the potential customer to solve a problem or help a situation and to do that in a way that may help them to buy from you. So do your marketing in that way. I get your message. Thanks.
    My recent post You Put Me Into Your Google Circles, I’ll Add You to Mine – Not So Quick

  22. Catarina — you make the important point that it's about your customer, not you. We're all self-centered, but that doesn't necessarily mean we're selfish. Just getting up every morning and planning your day makes you self-centered. But you've got to get out of that mode when you start thinking about your customer, who is also self-centered and doesn't care much about what's going on your life.
    My recent post Should Booz Allen Use Social Media in Managing its Crisis?

  23. Many bloggers say that they started to write for themselves and their inner needs…but they forget about the relationship between them and their readers. Blogs are not like diaries, that's why attention for readers' expectations is recommended. We have to take care of their needs and do our best to have a positive impact on their life.
    Thank you for reminding us of this basic approach of any business!
    Greetings from Romania! :)

  24. I have heard the idea plenty of times before to let your customers believe they had the idea in the first place and I will always agree with it. It is important to allow them to feel in control and not like you are controlling them.
    My recent post 6 Reasons You Aren’t Reaching Your Fitness Goals

  25. You are so right that it's about your customer, not you. Knowing that you have been in business for a long and offer good service is comforting, but that is where it ends. In my business my customers want us to listen to their needs and act like they are our only customers. I tell my employees to take the cotton out of their eyes and listen to what the customer is saying. They don't care whether you are having a good or bad day. That is not why they contacted us in the first place. My background has always been, service, service and then more service.
    My recent post How to Travel With Your Dog in the Car, at the Airport and in Hotels

  26. Great article! But I think that's the very definition of sales…showing the customer how it can improve, enhance, change their business, their life, their world! Because, I think that by and large, it is indeed a what's in it for me, world. Not that it's a bad thing…but sometimes we go a little bit overboard with that:) And of course you are entirely correct….we would all read an article about ourselves mostly because we want to put our best foot forward to the world and we're hoping that someone captured our true view of ourselves! LOL Yep..ego:)

    • Thank you, Jacqueline. Pity that far too many companies often forget the "what's in it for me" aspect and go on about what they want to sa, isn't it. Would we be alive today if we didn't look after ourselves? Silly things like watching before you cross a street, move away if someone that looks dangerous approaches you and so forth is looking after ourselves at a basic level.

  27. Catrina – "if you can show the customer what you can do for them" says it all. It you show them how you can fulfill a need or a want, it's like you said. You won't have to really sell, they will want to buy.
    As for reading an article about yourself, of course. Your very last line is a good one. You would definitely be upset with the paper that published an article you didn't like. Very much "Don't shoot the messenger".

  28. Too many people talk on and on about the features of what they are offering rather than focusing on the benefits to the client or customer. People need to think, "Oh, she's talking to me," and self-identify as your ideal client. They are very interested in how your offerings will affect them positively.

  29. All of us, each of us, is regularly tuned into MMFI-AM – that AM station which resonates in what I am reading in your message. It stands for – Make Me Feel Important – About Myself. We're waiting for whoever is selling anything is really more interested in helping us buy. And that focus – YOU vs ME – is what will have that AM station broadcast clearly.
    My recent post 5 Top Weekly Blog posts, week 14, from #Introvert Inspirer

  30. When I read the title of the post, my first thought was “Of course I would”. That turned out to be the first line in your article! This was a very effective way to point out the importance of promoting your product or service by focusing on the customer and what it does for them.

  31. Yes, we do tend to think of ourselves first. I actively work at thinking of others.

    I agree with your opinion that customers are not interested in how wonderful our product/service is, but how it will benefit them. If they do not see any reason to use it, they will refrain from doing so, despite the fact that others find it amazing.

    The quote;
    "People do not care about what you know until they know that you care" rings true. Customers must feel that we care about them as individuals and not just a number.

  32. This is a really great way of saying it Catarina, I never thought about my message to my customers this way. This will help me as I’m crafting my posts and marketing material. Thanks!

  33. This is an interesting post,Catarina. I wonder if people really do know what they want. Usually when you ask someone, they’ll first tell you what they don’t want. And what they want may not be what they need. I think it’s important to understand and identify with your customers, their situations and problems. I find it helpful to know the, “person” I’m speaking with, not the “people”.

    • Thank you, Pamela. It's true that people often don't know what they want when it comes to the big issues such as what they want to achieve in life. But when it comes to small and basic things like losing weight and look good they usually do. If nothing else they know what they don't want in areas such as those. In other words say, a new make-up that don't make them feel they will look better is a non starter.

      • Yes you brought out a good point. People tend to be non-specific in what they want. For example, I want to Lose weight. What does that mean? How much weight? Do you need to weight or do you think you need to lose weight? If you’re thinking in terms of marketing there’s a big difference if your customer is a 27 year old who thinks she’s not meeting men because she’s 10 lb. over her ideal weight.And an unhealthy 27 year old isolated in her room because she is carrying 50-60 libs of extra weight. I think it’s helpful to know which 27 year old your marketing to.

        • Absolutely. Sorry but to me that goes without saying:-) Imagine though if a company selling a slimming product on their web site just talked about how much profit they made the last quarter instead of having say, pictures of people before and after losing weight with their product:-)

  34. Some great marketing advice Caterina. You should always be striving to produce what your customers want to hear, not what you want to say. Oh how many folks there are who need a reminder of that.

  35. I think it’s human nature to enjoy seeing our name in print when it is a positive thing. When it’s negative, it’s a little harder to take. Marketing should always focus on the client and what they are in need of instead of just a laundry list of everything we can provide. Customers really don’t care about all those other things we can do…just those things they are in need of.

  36. Lots of businesses would often claim of putting their customers first above all else. Unfortunately, their practices are further from the truth. In the words of John Maxwell, “people will only care when they see that you care.” If only business owners would be able to fully grasp this concept, they will be able to attract more people to patronize and recommend their businesses.

  37. I’ve seen lots of editors who are all about me, me, me and that’s a total turn-off to many writers. It’s great to tout abilities, but yes, the focus of services and products should be about what the product can do for the user and it’s well worth taking stock of that fact on a regular basis.

    • Not surprised because so many writers are trying to get published they feel they have the upper hand to put it mildly, Jeri. Can't help reflecting on what it would be like if editors of newspapers were like that. Glad we agree that the focus should be what a product/service can do for users.

  38. As an independent pro wrestler, I know this first hand. Wrestling is full of arrogant people, who come into the sport thinking no one is better than they are. In the old days, if you went to training that way, the training would break your leg during practice. This actually happened to Hulk Hogan.
    I had a bad time, because I am the opposite. The Martials Arts have instilled into me a sense of humility, and this was direct opposite of a cut throat world of wrestling.
    The solution I came up with was to be the best at what I do. I also was always putting the wrestling federation ahead of my booking status. Become a team player, and let the promoters see what you can accomplish, not just brag about it.
    This solution may take longer for you to reach goals, but those goals are solid, and you have a reputation that others respect. A good reputation is something that can only be earned, not bragged about.

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