How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

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In this Vlog Grant explains that if you don’t know your customers well enough, you’re bound to make mistakes.

I had one of the best marketing lessons of my life when I was 14 years old and I didn’t even know it.

My parents had some standby tickets for a Virgin flight, which my mother had been told not to pay money to solidify because the plane was empty. We got to Gatwick airport and it turned out the plane was now full and we were waiting to get on the flight, we weren’t sure we would. But who was walking around – Richard Branson. He could see something was going on and unlike most CEOs who’d run a mile, he walked straight towards us and spoke to my parents. It was a minor issue in the grand scheme of things. But how many CEOs would’ve even known it was going on. So many people try and run their businesses from an ivory tower, getting secondhand information over what’s going on with their customers, but he was at the coal face.

How well do you know your customers? The challenges they have, the things that concern them, the context in which they’re operating, the values that they adhere to. If you don’t know your customers well enough, you’re bound to make mistakes.

I was once asked by a fashion brand to help them on a new handbag launch. I walked into a department of 29 marketers. And one of the questions I asked was when did you last hang out with your customers? It turned out they hadn’t hung out with their customers at all – and I panicked! How we were going to make sensible decisions if we didn’t know the customer well enough? So I walked into the CEO’s office and quit before I started the job. He looked aghast and said, well, what do you need to do? I said, I need to learn about your customers. I ended up being paid for two weeks to hang out in the handbag department at Selfridges, talking to purchasers of handbags.

The frightening thing is, is after that two weeks, I knew more about their customers than they did. Don’t fall off your chair while you’re watching this… but 20% of a marketer’s time should be spent hanging out with prospects and customers, learning about them. It’s where your best ideas will come from and where you’ll really get to know your onions.

One of the biggest value adds a marketer can give you is by being the voice of the customer around the boardroom table. While operations is worrying about the business, and finance is worrying about the cash flow, it should be marketing that’s telling you what your customers think. Of course, the other thing you have to ….. [distracted] Richard! I’ve got another issue with my tickets….

There may be small changes to the spoken word in this transcript in order to facilitate the readability of the written English

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