how deeply do you understand your customers?

story time…

a while back i was the guest speaker at a live networking event. the topic was building your business framework and we were focusing on knowing your target market and how to communicate the benefits of your product.

after my talk was over we were chatting and mingling, as you do at these sorts of events, and one of the attendees came up to me and passed me her flyer.

at the time i had just had a baby. i was probably feeling low on energy, definitely feeling like i was packing a few extra pounds, and i am pretty sure my hair had started falling out.

but i put on a pretty dress and some cute new shoes, layered on the makeup to hide my dark circles, and tried to ignore the fact that i wished i could have lost the baby weight before standing in front of a room of my peers to talk about biz.

anyhow, back to my story.

so the lady walked up to me and passed me her flyer. i barely had a moment to glance down and see that her little biz was personal training, nutrition, & fitness. before i even had a chance to say hello, she waved her finger at me in a large circle (as though to encompass the hot mess that i was that day) and said:

“you know… i could fix all of those issues for you.”

i. was. so. embarrassed.

(side note: just typing this out is making me feel all flushed and shaky, it’s just like i am back there in the moment.)

so here i am, attending an event as a guest of honour in a room full of people i would very much like to impress,  and with one little comment i felt like a complete pile of crap.

i am sure she had the best of intentions - she was neither unkind nor rude about it, and she likely genuinely believed she could help me - but she really didn’t go about this in the right way.

someone who deeply understood her ideal client would  know that i would be feeling completely self-conscious about the extra baby weight, especially having to stand on a stage in front of a group of people.

she would know that, though i am well aware that i am not looking my best, i would be horrified to have it pointed out to me so blatantly (even husbands understand this, no?)

and she would know that my secret fear was that i would never get my old body back, that i would never really feel like the old me again.

she would have known that all i desired was to feel cute and confident and that a good opener would have been to just compliment me on my shoes!

the irony of course is that we had just finished a big seminar on understanding our target market. but even if we hadn’t, even if we had just been at any other meet up, and even if i was just one of the regular attendees, i still would have felt horrified to be approached the way i was.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  -Maya Angelou

and that is just it. even if that biz owner goes on to become a world famous celebrity fitness trainer i will never purchase a product or service from her. i will never forget how she made me feel.

there are a number of reasons why understanding your clients deeply will help you build your biz. you can use that understanding to tailor the products you offer directly to their needs. you can communicate with them in a way that feels really authentic & genuine. and you can be more effective with your marketing and sales.

and of course you can build relationships based on a common understanding… you can show your most awesome people that they are not alone, that you ‘get them’ and that you can empathize.

marketing is all about communication. it doesn’t have to feel icky or pushy or salesy. as a micro business owner your greatest gift is connecting directly with the people you wish to serve. and real connection is forged through real understanding. (click here to tweet that!)

don’t just identify who your ideal customer is (so that you can spot her a mile away in a room full of people)  take the time to understand her deeply.

how you make her feel is one of the most important parts of your interaction.

p.s. for those of you wondering, my response to the ‘i can fix your issues’ comment was to just to laugh it off. i made a comment that unless she had a magic wand and could make my baby sleep through the night, my issues were a long way off of fixing. in hindsight, i sort of wish that i had the werewithall to point out that either she didn’t understand her ideal client at all, or else i certainly was not it. but then, i don’t think she knew how embarrassed i was, so it is likely that anything i said would have fallen on deaf ears.

i am not sharing this story now to shame and blame, in fact i have changed the details of the story to protect the parties involved. but i do feel it is a story worth sharing: when we know better we can do better. i think maya angelou said that one too.

to read more in this series on customer love:

would you like to build some extra customer love into your business? learn how find your one ideal client, understand her deeply, and make her the hero of your business? join the NEW online workshop – customer love. click here for all the details.