Know Your Customers

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It is hard to be logical in an emotional world. After decades of study, I have found out that logically figuring out what a group of people may need, and that group actually wanting the item are two completely different things. Thus, as an entrepreneur, I learned to become a people watcher.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I want to assure you this type of voyeurism has nothing to do with late nights or windows without shades. I watch what people purchase, and what they desire. The quandary I am trying to answer is, what drives them to spend their hard-earned money. And also, I look at what leads consumers to their purchases. I say this because the world of marketing is alive and very well. And I have found that knowing this truly helps the bottom line of any business or industry that you can imagine.

When my mom was young, she worked as an administrative person at a sock factory. The factory, made socks, package them, and sent them off to market. The socks were all made the same. When they came to the part of the assembly line where they were packaged, one of three things would happen.

Socks going for inexpensive and general sales would be paired and a label placed on them to hold them together. A certain percentage of the socks were put into a plastic bag, and those socks would sell for $.20 more. Some socks are placed into a fancy box with some tissue paper, these socks sold for two dollars more than the inexpensive socks with just a label. The socks would go to different stores to be sold.

The socks were really all the same. The only difference was the packaging. The packaging would determine where the socks were going to be sold. If you did not mind going to the five and dime store, you could get the socks for an excellent price. If you shopped department stores, you would get a plastic bag with the socks, but they would cost more. And if you only shopped at fine clothing stores, you got the same socks, and you got a fancy box and a tissue paper which made you feel terrific about the socks.

People want to feel good about what they get. Some people buy products because they remember the product from when they were younger, and the product reminds them of good times. Some people purchase the product because the advertising has convinced them they will receive high quality and good emotions from the product. Others purchase products because those who they wish to emulate purchase the products.

If you build anything or provide any service for others to use, understanding the buyer’s motives and desires will be a critical factor in your success or failure with that product. This is true whether you are an entrepreneur, a business leader, or someone in some part of the assembly process. Remember, anyone we get something from is our supplier. Anyone we give something to, whether it is a coworker, a purchaser, our boss, or the person who empties our trash can at night, is our customer.

Something to think about.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Author: Mike Balof

A retired Air Force Master Sergeant, Mike used to lay in bed at night and worry about what would happen if his plant closed or found himself without a job. One day his plant closed. Rather than panic and hysteria (OK, maybe a little) Mike found himself carried away on the adventure of his life. Mike started with the best job he ever had working at Home Depot. He spent 8 years working with job seekers at a local workforce center, helping them to find employment. He then started his own company developing courses, writing books and urging others to follow their own paths into the future. Mike holds a Master of Arts in Adult Education and Training and a Bachelor of Business Management, earned through the University of Phoenix and an AAS degree in Electronics Systems Technology from the Community College of the Air Force. Mike is a member of the Delta Mu Delta Business Honor Society.

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