Understand The Customer – The Most Important Thing In Any Business

Graphic of an individual analyzing customers

Hey. I Have A Great Idea…..

Roughly 15 years ago I was involved in a project that was supposed to be a phenomenal hit.  We had it all figured out:

  • 12 Week Promotion
  • Offer Customers A Brand New Offer Every Week Featuring A Highly Desirable Item At An Insanely Low Price
  • Integrated Web based advertising strategy
  • “Paint” The Stores With Compelling Signs And Communication To Drive Customers To The Company Web Site To Take Advantage Of The Offer

It was the biggest investment in a promotion the company had ever made.  This was something we would tell our grand kids about-how we changed retailing with this incredible event.

Sometimes You Just Suck

Result? It Bombed. 

And when I say bombed, it just didn’t fail to achieve the anticipated results, it failed magnificently. 

It was so bad that the program was cancelled after only five weeks.  The marketing manager was fired and the rest of us hid under our desks for a month until it was safe to come out.

What Went Wrong?

As we dug through the promotional carnage the major error became embarrassingly clear: We simply failed to understand what our core customer wanted.

A Common Error

As bad as our error was, it was not uncommon.  Statistics show that 8 out of 10 new business will fail within the first 18 months.  Cash flow is usually cited as the main culprit; but another less talked about factor is the failure to understand one’s customer.

If more new businesses better understood their customer, they would often realize profits faster and running out of cash wouldn’t be as much of a worry. 

Don’t Be A Statistic

Regardless of whether you’re a major corporation selling B2B solutions, a small retailer filling a specific niche or an internet marketer just starting out,  dialing up U.P.S. can greatly increase your chance of success. 


Although not the same as that highly efficient shipping company, U.P.S. can deliver great business results.

U.P.S. is:

U=Understand The Customer

Too often businesses develop what they think is a great solution, pour tons of money into development, production and sales only to find it completely missed the mark (ever heard of new Coke?). 

Understanding your customer should come before putting one penny into the product itself.  Specifically, seek to understand things like:

  1. Who are they? Primarily men, women, teenagers?
  2. Employment: Do they have jobs? Are they business owners or unemployed?
  3. Do they have money to buy your product? What’s their average income?
  4. Are they college educated?
  5. Do they live in the city or in rural counties? 
  6. What do they generally do in their free time? 
  7. What type of web sites to they generally like to visit?
  8. What types of shows do they like to watch?

Does this seem a little overwhelming?  Then start with a simple target customer-you.  Focus on finding customers that are just like you.  What do you like/dislike, what are your hobbies, etc. This may seem overly simplistic, but you’ll know everything you need to know about your target customer.

The better you understand your customer, the better you’ll understand…


Once you understand your customer, you can begin to understand their pain. 

I once read that people are constantly trying to avoid some type of pain and discomfort.  Understanding your target demographics key pain point is crucial in developing the correct solution.  Failure to do this puts you in danger of solving the wrong problem.

There’s an old story about someone who shows up to fix a piano. When the owner comes downstairs, the person fixing the piano proudly states that he has perfectly tuned it.  The owner says, “that’s great, but I wanted it painted”.  Address the right pain point.

How do you find out what your target demographic’s pain points are?  The universal answer for everything: Google.  Simply type the question: “What are males 18 – 24 top pain points”.  You’ll be amazed at the great information you get.

For more information on using Google, as well as other internet sources, to discover pain points check out Ryan Battle’s post: ryanbattles.com/post/pain-points-of-your-target-audience


Once you understand the real pain your target demographic is experiencing, positioning your solution becomes easy.  Is your target constantly stressed about money?  Develop a 3 step program to financial security. 

This cannot be emphasized enough: people want to move away from their pain.  If you can draw a direct link between your solution and your target’s pain, you have significantly increased your chance of business success.

Remember, U.P.S. is your friend to avoid becoming another statistic in the wreckage of failed business promotions and initiatives. 

About Angelo

Angelo Lombardo is a Fortune 500 executive who is dedicated to giving other business people the mentality, motivation, tools and processes to “Go On The Offensive” to create the career and/or life they choose.

Get Free Career, Business and Success insights by signing up for my weekly newsletter at: www.angelolombardo.com

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

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