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How To Know What Your Customers Want (With Absolute Precision)

May 30, 2014
Dave ramsey mansion house cool springs tn

Photo courtesy of CoolSpring.com

There’s a story about Sam Walton making an executive from H-E-B wait to meet with him while he sold a woman in his store an ironing board cover. He then went on to sell over 1,000,000 ironing board covers.

Whether this story is true, I don’t know, but I do know it’s a great example of a powerful strategy you should be using in your business…

Know your customers.

How do you do this? Spend time with them, ask them questions, and listen.

That’s it.

It sounds easy and it is easy, but here’s what usually happens…

The Out-Of-Touch Boss

As you do better and better at business, you make more money and move “up the ranks” of your company. You stop doing things that can be handled by somebody else and start focusing on things only you can do.

All of this is great, except the byproduct that comes with this, which is losing touch with the people who made your success possible — your customers.

When you’re on the frontline of your business, you have the opportunity to interact with the people who directly spend money with you. And many entrepreneurs can relate very well to this, since they’re cut from the same cloth their customers are.

Take Dave Ramsey, for example.

In the early 1980s, Dave was a successful real estate investor with a portfolio worth over $4,000,000. He accomplished this by borrowing (and leveraging) large sums of money.

Then all hell broke loose. One of his largest creditors demanded he pay $1,200,000 of short-term notes in 90 days. He was so highly leveraged, he didn’t have the cash available, and he filed bankruptcy.

That’s when he started counseling people on their finances.

This new business worked because:

  • Dave had been in a similar situation as his customers.
  • He was working one-on-one with people and could personally get to know their needs.
  • The pain he had experienced was fresh.

Where Things Stand Today

Today, Ramsey’s syndicated radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show, is heard on more than 500 radio stations throughout the United States and Canada. He’s written four New York Times bestselling books. He’s worth an estimated $55,000,000 and pays for everything with cash.

He flies in a private jet.

His house (see photo above) is 13,307 square feet.

He speaks to thousands of people at once.

And good for him. Air travel is a bitch, you need a place to recharge, and you can’t reach more than a few people with your message when you do one-on-one work.

“Broadcast” and “replication” are the only ways to go when you want to reach the masses. But how do you stay connected with your core audience and its needs?

You can’t do it by living in a bubble, where the only “feedback” you get is from people on the payroll and the only time you have interaction with people who could actually use your product is through a filter of call screeners and ticketed events.

Can You Relate To Your Customers?

I know a well-known country music artist who actually stays with fans when he’s on the road. He hangs out with them before the show, he eats meals with them, and sleeps in their guest rooms.

He doesn’t have to do this. He could easily afford a nice hotel, where he could eat high-end food and not be bothered by anybody.

But would that let him understand the people listening to his music?

No way.

And because he puts in the time to get to know his fans, this guy is absolutely crushing it. When a fan hears a song he writes, she thinks it’s about her, because it is about her.

There is something similar that you can do to stay in touch with your customers. Put a system in place to make sure you do it. Otherwise, the powerful connection you’ve shared is fading away with every “success” you have.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Friday, I give tips on how to build the foundation needed to have a successful business and platformSee other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for me to cover something specific, let me know via Twitter.

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