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Don’t listen to your customers (they’re wrong)

There’s a certain piece of bad advice peddled by gurus, HubSpot articles, and social media influencers that everyone accepts at face value. 

The advice? 

Well, there are several that fit under the same ballcap: 

* Write like your audience speaks 

* Your best content ideas come from your customers

* Before launching a new product or service, ask your audience and make sure they actually want your idea before investing your blood, sweat, tears, and dough into it 

* The customer is always right

Yada yada yada. 

But this advice is not only misguided, but it’s wrong. 

Now, there’s an obvious caveat here:

Sometimes, biz owners think their target audience is exactly like them. This is rarely the case. And if you think your target audience is exactly like you, then you can convince yourself that your new product or service is a good idea, pour your blood, sweat, tears, and dough into it, then become shocked when it falls of deaf ears and doesn’t even result in a single order. 

This happens all the time to biz owners who don’t have “no men” in their ear or they have a team that’s afraid to speak up. 

Case in point: 

Many moons ago, when I worked at a design agency, the CEO got all gung ho about the “cloud.” (This happened about the time that the “cloud” gained popularity as a term for… the… internet?... I don’t know - nobody uses this vernacular anymore and it still confuses me today.) 

And his big idea was to change every piece of our marketing to reflect the “graphic design cloud,” which makes even less than the “cloud.” 

We spent months eradicating any marketing that didn’t include these three confusing words. And everyone was confused by this shift: The team was confused, the customers were confused, and people who have never heard of our company were confused. 

It took months to fix everything he broke. 

So, in that specific case (which happens all the time in the wild world of online business where you can’t see your audience's faces or speak to them directly), the misguided advice makes sense. 

Problem is, biz owners also have a tendency to apply this advice where it doesn’t belong. 

Here’s an example: 

One of my clients today has a podcast and a Facebook group for his customers. Well, he recently had a relationship expert on his podcast, and since his audience is 90% male, I went with a title that “attacked” men—basically calling them out for being the reason relationships fail. 


When I checked our Facebook group, one of our customers shared the episode and praised it. 

And then, another customer commented under the post saying how the “attacking men” angle I used in the title triggered him. He then went on to say that he’s “never failed at a relationship” (and this was a downright lie from my distance, but correct, perspective). 

This is why you don’t listen to your customers: 

If I listened to him, I would’ve had to castrate the title, which means that a large portion of our audience wouldn’t have felt attacked enough to listen. 

It also wasn’t so much of an “attacking men” angle as it was a “getting men to accept responsibility” angle, which jives with the theme of the hour-long podcast.

Moral of the story? 

You don’t ask deer how to hunt them, you ask the hunters. 

And so it is in business and marketing and content. 


Need help writing more persuasive and profitable emails? Hit reply, and we’ll set up a quick chat to see if partnering on your email strategy makes sense. 


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