Stop Talking to Yourself, Start Listening to Your Customers

Creating messaging, telling stories, and pulling concepts out of thin air based on nothing more than your own assumptions and personal views of the world sounds cool and creative but can be ineffective in business. 

I vividly remember sitting in a roundtable brainstorm for a Fortune 500 iconic brand attempting to share my ideas on how more sophisticated consumer insights could improve the business.

When it came time for me to offer up my two-cents I suggested we stop talking about what we think we know, start observing and listening to our consumers to gain clarity, and get serious about using insights to make more informed decisions.

Before I could complete my thought the colleague running the discussion interrupted me and mistakenly exclaimed that Apple didn't rely on consumer insights. He then went on to support his rebuff by regurgitating (and misusing) that famous "faster horse" quote.

His reaction was annoying but not surprising. It wasn't the first time, nor would be the last, that I would watch a brand allow arrogance, ignorance, and complacency to get in the way of developing a sound strategic vision.

It definitely wasn't the only time I'd have to endure someone trying to use the horse adage as a viable excuse for pushing back against consumer input.

Business owners, in particular, should be wary of falling into this trap. Going rogue with an anti-insight mentality could lead to a weak strategy and the execution of a disjointed series of tactics that are confusing and irrelevant to your consumer.

Witnessing these mishaps firsthand has led to my firm believe that if you aren't clear on what you want to say, who you want to say it to, and why they should care, then you risk wasting time and resources on elaborate productions only to end up launching them to an audience of one.

If you enjoy talking to yourself then cool, go at it. However, if you want your marketing efforts to have reach and resonate with your intended target then consider exercising consumer empathy and using the resulting insights wisely.

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