Customer Development, Customer Success

Don’t Make Your Business about You – Your New Mantra? Or the Worst Advice Ever? ft. @VioletaNedkova & @LincolnMurphy

dont-make-your-business-about-you

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

“Figure out what people want and give it to them. Excuse me? I’m supposed to be a robot? I want to see what I want, then see what they want, and then see what they want from me.”

Violeta Nedkova

To be fair, Violeta’s next words were:

“From there, you can build your groundwork and start giving value.”

But I’m a fan of the provoking, out of context soundbite. I just love how she neatly phrased the prevailing wisdom and then dashed it on the rocks.

I got into a debate with someone on Twitter recently about this – they posted an article about how your business is not about your customers, it’s about you. I posted a rant in response, essentially saying that they were clearly trying to make non-ideal customers happy instead of making ideal customers successful. My argument is: If you make your business about you instead of your customers, you’ll be your only customer – because you’re the one you’re attracting!

Think about it. If all of your copy is about you, written to appeal to you, who are you going to attract?

But, over time, cooler heads prevail. I realized that for some entrepreneurs, like Violeta for example, their ideal client really is them. Or people very much like them. People who hold the same values, want the same things, have the same aesthetic tastes. For business coaches and life coaches, there is a tremendous amount of mirroring that happens in marketing.

But then a friend told me about one of her clients, a middle-aged British guy who was VP of marketing for a major budget bridal-wear chain, who preferred high-end, luxury brands to the budget-friendly one he worked for. If he created marketing that appealed to himself, he couldn’t be further from his target market than if he built a billboard on Mars. His target market was the budget bride, and the things that are important to her weren’t even on his personal radar.

“Don’t make your business about you” should absolutely be that man’s mantra.

It absolutely should not be Violeta’s.

But what about you – the SaaS founder or marketer? Where does SaaS fit into this theory?

For the vast majority of products, unless yours is particularly personality-driven, I would recommend the “Don’t make your business about you” approach. Identify your ideal customers – the ones who have a severe problem you are uniquely able to solve (and who are willing to pay for it) – and get to know them.

In depth.

Understand what their day-to-day life looks like. Learn what they do all day at work. Find out what frustrates them, what wastes their time, what drives them crazy, and what inspires them. Discover what they wish for themselves as people and as employees. Then, make your product and your marketing all.about.them.

But if you skip this crucial step, well, I’ll let Lincoln Murphy tell it.

You see, either way, whether you are making your business about “you” or not – you’re still defining your ideal customer. Maybe that ideal customer is you (well, people similar to you). Maybe your ideal customer couldn’t possibly be more different.

I guess, in the end, it really is always about the customer.


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Violeta Nedkova March 10, 2016 at 6:12 am

    This is super insightful, Nikki! I agree that when you make yourself your ideal customer, you attract people much like yourself, and I’m doing that because I realized there are so many confused nuts out there like me. They say you can best help yourself two years ago, so these are the people I target.

    Thanks for quoting me and giving such helpful examples! Sometimes it really isn’t so smart to target yourself. Depends on the industry and your goals, I guess. 🙂

    Plus, my favorite piece of advice: It’s all about the balance, yo!!!

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