In the language of sales and marketing - we are constantly referring to 'the customer'.

We spend a lot of time trying to understanding 'the customer'.

We put together elaborate plans to speak to 'the customer'.

We trust and have a lot of faith in the right decisions, made by 'the customer'.

But for many businesses - who the customer / or customers are...is hazy.

Although we wish we could - simply thinking of 'the customer' as a singular entity is extremely limiting and potentially disastrous.

This past weekend - I bought a pram from a shop in Somerset West; we have a new member of the family joining us that the end of the year.

I did my research, weighed up the pros and cons of the various brands and options and finally made the decision to go with the pram that we selected as best suited to our needs from a portfolio of various options.

The person getting the most benefit from the new pram will be the baby. The main user of the product will be myself - who will be pushing it up hills and folding it up into the back of a car. The final decision on which pram we bought was made by my wife and I ended up paying for it.

So in all of that - who is 'the customer'?

What might be more useful is to critically thinking rather about:

  1. Who is the user of your product / service?
  2. Who gets to pay for the product / service?
  3. Who gets to benefit from the product / service?
  4. Who get to decide on whether or not to buy the product / service?

In the case of this pram, there are indeed multiple customers that one would need to consider and have a keen understanding of in the successful marketing of the product.

It wouldn't be sufficient to focus on just one of them.

Each of these 'customers' have different needs, requirements and carry their own partial perspectives on what success (as it relates to a pram) looks like.

The point is - that you might think that you're doing a great job of marketing a product, based on a limited understanding of who your customer is, but in reality it might actually be better to focus your efforts on one of the other, less-considered customers in the mix.

It's worth the effort to spend time critically assessing where the most useful customer leverage-point might then be.