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You are not your customer

It’s no secret that entrepreneurs build businesses to address a void in the market they felt as a consumer. Or in other cases they build enterprises around personal passions. But while you might be in the general target market for the product or service you offer, you are not your customer. At least not the only one. You’re an entrepreneur building a business. You might serve others seemingly just like you or completely different from you. Either way, it doesn’t matter. When it comes to your own business, you’re a business owner making business decisions, not a customer.

This is absolutely not to suggest that your opinion doesn’t matter or customer perspective doesn’t lie at the center of decision making. In fact just the opposite. It is the customer that should provide the foundation for nearly every marketing decision you make as a business owner.

Rather, we encourage business owners to throw out the notion of, “If I was a (insert your target market here), I would…” OR “Well, I’m a (insert target market here) and I…” as part of the rationale for making decisions. The fact is, you’re only one person with one opinion that is no more valuable than another customer’s. How the masses that fit the descriptor of your audience and comprise your target market evaluate marketing information, engage in purchasing processes, and make decisions is what really matters.

The self-imposed and unintentional blinders of personal perspective often cloud decisions surrounding where to advertise and how often to communicate. But they also impede thinking in less obvious ways including defining the in-store customer experience, outlining the process of working with professional service providers, and developing the volume of web content or other marketing materials. These marketing activities cannot be effective if guided by only one perspective.

So how can small business owners garner this critical understanding of their target market’s perspective? It’s simple – ask them. This doesn’t have to mean a lengthy online survey or yearlong commitment to focus groups and a customer advisory board (though these tactics do offer significant value). Securing these critical insights is as easy as asking the questions. Pick up the phone and call top customers. Or engage them in a conversation when they come in your store. Then, actually place value in their feedback and truly consider it in decision making.

With your customers at the center of your marketing, you’re empowering them to see themselves within your business, your products, and your services. You’re making yourself the obvious choice.


Hillary Berman’s business, Popcorn & Ice Cream provides small businesses a partner, coach, and consultant in their marketing so they can achieve “success” – no matter how they define it. 

Drawing on experience with branding, public relations, advertising, custom events, trade shows, market research, social media and corporate philanthropy, Hillary works with small businesses to create marketing programs that resonate with customers, achieve goals and reflect the personality of the business. 

You can view her profile HERE.

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