Know Customer, or No Business

Rodney Swope

Rodney is VP of Learning & Development at OCEAN Programs.

A funny thing happened on the way to building my business. I was giddy with confidence that this idea was the next best mouse trap and was sure to sell like hotcakes! It was such a good idea. If you don’t believe me, just ask my family and friends!

Entrepreneurs are usually excited and passionate about their solution to a problem. Founders push hard to get their product launched into the market so that customers can solve a problem. History is filled with examples of products that passionate founders launched: The Edsel, New Coke, Google glasses. However, half of all new ventures will fail within the first year, with a leading cause being the product does not meet the needs of customers.

OH! I somehow forgot about the customer!
Your passion for the solution is a great asset. It fills you with energy. What is inherently more fundamental than the solution? It is the problem. Fall in love with the customer and his or her problem! Understand the problem by identifying, meeting, and deeply understanding your customers.

Who is your customer? How well do you know them and truly understand what they want and need?

“An Entrepreneur is Anyone who takes the risks to create something new for the sake of others.”

Jordan Raynor – Called to Create

The solution that you have created is not for you, nor your closest friends, but for others. What others? Who others? OCEAN believes that an intimate understanding of the customer, who he or she is, is paramount in solving their problem and meeting their needs in the market, which is the quintessential definition of a successful business.

In the practice of creating something new for the sake of others, we begin by profiling the customer with a customer avatar.

A customer avatar is a detailed profile of your ideal customer. It can be a ‘consumer’ or a ‘business’ It doesn’t make assumptions or categorize people into groups. The avatar focuses you on one persona and outlines everything about them. It goes into much greater depth than a regular marketing persona. It’s crucial that you create a customer avatar of your ideal customer, not your average buyer. This person would be one of your early adopters. Your ideal customer is somebody you really want to sell to; they’re high-spending, loyal, repeat buying, referral monsters. You’ve identified your ideal customer when you know… that you know… that you know that this person would accept your product or service today if you had it available.

Hopefully, some of you already have customers like this. If this is the case, use this person to build the foundations of your avatar. If not, it’s a clear sign that you’ve been targeting the wrong people.

A detailed customer avatar will also streamline your business at every level. When you have an avatar in your crosshairs, your solution will be better, your message will be clearer, and your potential rewards will be greater.

When you know who your ideal customer is, you can create the perfect experience for them beginning with their first interaction, web visit, and purchase. Perfect user experience makes that customer yours! Then they will help you create the solution that best meets their needs — or maybe even knocks their socks off — eventually leading you to others just like themselves.

Don’t blow by this fundamental step in building your business. If you don’t KNOW the CUSTOMER, then you will have NO BUSINESS.

The customer and his or her problem that you hope to solve is your “WHY”.

To love your customers is to KNOW THEM!

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. 1 John 4:7-8

For more information on this topic and other ways to know and care for your customers, check out Genesis Entrepreneurship Training here.

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