Here are three of many scenarios that result in you having no idea who your customer is or what they want.
1) You have a burst of growth from a one-time marketing hit or traction channel (e.g. media mention, went #1 on Product Hunt or landed a viral article). An unexpected influx of customers arrives, but there’s no time to get to know who they are and why they bought.
2) You have an ambiguous client profile, and an outsized percentage of your customer population doesn’t represent it. For example, “our customer is an SMB” isn’t quite specific enough when there are 30,000,000 SMBs in the US and your customers are part-time freelancers.
3) You don’t have a meaningful answer to the dreaded question of “What’s driving churn?”
Not knowing your customer leads you down the path of creating a fake model of who you would like your customer to be, instead of who they actually are.
Luckily, every founder goes through this at one stage or another.
Why does this happen?
It’s very comfortable to sit behind a computer. Technology makes it all too easy to depersonalize your customer by viewing them as a list of metrics, attributes and bits and bytes in a dashboard. I’ve done it.
So, how do you solve this problem? I guarantee, this answer is going to be ‘slap you in the face’ obvious and maybe even make you chuckle.
Go and meet with them.
In the early days of WP Curve, I was fortunate enough to meet up with one of our customers, Drew Sanocki. I learned a lot about his needs and how he used our service:
- When it came to WordPress problems, he valued his time more than money. He was adept enough to solve these problems himself but he would be wasting his time. I believed that we filled up a skill gap that our customer’s lacked. Over time, more and more evidence stacked up to the contrary.
- Drew was investing time and money in content marketing. He viewed his online presence as an investment in his business. His propensity to spend on one element of a marketing strategy meant he was willing to spend on another element, too. This helped with positioning and messaging to the right type of customer, instead of no-one at all.
- Drew didn’t need a whole lot of help, but when he did, he would need multiple problems solved, fast. This broke our ‘one task at a time’ rule, so we needed to figure out ways to be more flexible. Use cases like Drew’s helped to inform the launch of a higher-level plan which allowed customers to request three tasks at a time. It was 3x more expensive than the basic plan. This cohort of VIP customers ended up being worth 2X the LTV of a regular customer but wanted the same amount of work to be done. That cup of coffee had a pretty solid ROI!
Drew took a lot of my assumptions and up-ended them. What I ‘believed’ and ‘reality’ were miles apart.
As an added bonus, I also got to learn all about Drew, his business and the stress that comes along with New York City apartment hunting. We became friends, shared business connections and ended up sharing a handful of opportunities with each other. I’m not saying that every customer will be like him, (I mean, there’s only one Drew Sanocki!)… but each interaction can be just as valuable if you sit and listen to your customer.
So, you’ve decided to set a few customer meetings up. What should you talk about?
I recommend you take a keen interest in what’s happening in their business and life. Here are a few starter questions to get the conversation flowing:
- What made you decide to go with our offering?
- Who else did you consider?
- Is there any reason you could see yourself canceling?
- What’s your favorite thing about working with us?
- Where have we let you down?
- If you could have a new feature, what would it be?
- If we increased our prices by 30%, do you think our service would still be a good deal?
- What can I do to help you with your business?
If you end up meeting a few of your customers, shoot me an email at
Let me know what you learn.