Customers Don't Think Like Marketers

Ken Mueller Owner/Partner, Inkling Media

Posted on September 17th 2013

Customers Don't Think Like Marketers

2013 09 15 19.50.26 300x225 Customers Dont Think Like MarketersCustomers just don’t care.

They don’t care about which tools you are using, how often they are using them, where you are using them, or how you are using them. They just want you to be there when they need you.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the idea of marketing automation, particularly in relation to social media and the online space, as I prepare for a presentation I”m giving at the Marketing Automation seminar this week, sponsored by The Standard Group. As I’ve looked at a lot of studies and information, there are clearly two sides to the automation equation: those methods of automation that make the job easier for us, the marketers, and those that make the job easier for the customers. Sometimes they are one in the same, and in the end, all the customer cares about is their experience.

As marketers, we discuss and debate various tactics and strategies while throwing around terms like content marketing, context marketing, influence marketing, and the like. We get caught up in semantics and even get in arguments while making pronouncements as to what is right and wrong with marketing and social media. A new buzzword comes along, we all write about it, and then someone decides they are sick of writing about it or hearing about it, and they declare that it is over; and post passive aggressive comments on Facebook or Twitter about how they’ll scream, “the next time someone writes a post about yadda yadda yadda.”

But you see, our customers just don’t care. They don’t think like we do. They think like customers. All they care about is what you’ve done for them lately. They don’t think in terms of content marketing, context marketing, influence marketing, or whatever the next type of marketing will be before someone declares it invalid and throws it out the window. Those are all valid terms, whether they buzz or not, and the nuances and semantic differences make no difference for Sally Shopper and Colin Customer.

We may think that topics are being done to death, but that’s because we’re marketers living in Marketingland (which by the way, can be a rather boring and self-centered place). We need to take a vacation to the real world and understand that they really don’t care.

Customers don’t think like marketers — like us — and that’s a good thing.

So while you’re obsessing over what to call some concept, and which method works best, just remember: Your customers just don’t care.

All they want are great products and services delivered with great customer service. Period. Do that, and you’ll make them happy, regardless of how you do it, or what you call it.


Ken Mueller

Owner/Partner, Inkling Media

The founder of Inkling Media, where he does social media and marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. He also is an adjunct professor at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, teaching continuing education classes in social media and inbound marketing.
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Ava Cristi
Posted on September 17th 2013 at 9:54PM

I agree. Customers only expect results; they don’t care less how you do it. You think they’re fascinated by the latest tools your company uses, or what kind of paint your office has, but their satisfaction is a means to an end.

Posted on September 19th 2013 at 11:40AM

Great reminder, Ken. I think a lot of marketers all too often forget that the average customer doesn't understand content strategy, algorithms or ad retargeting. Looking at it from a more simplistic perspective alleviates pressure to write the most creative copy, or to create a better contest than a competitor. You truly just have to test and listen to see what resonates with your audience - and what doesn't! 

Jon Pietz
Posted on March 16th 2014 at 7:48PM

Well put, Ken.

Tell me, how do you go about defining "great products and services delivered with great customer service" for your customers? If one man's trash is another man's treasure, then what type of research or insight do you use to uncover what a particular set of customers treasure?

Curious, Jon