Where in the world is your customer?

26254565 A client sent me some initial web copy that she and her team had drafted.  It was copy for their home page and some other lead pages.  I read through their draft and sent a very short e-mail back.

"Where are your customers?"

This, of course, triggered a phone call with a "what do you mean, where are my customers?"

Technically, there was nothing wrong with their copy.  It was grammatically and factually correct.  But, the copy was all about my client’s business.  We were established in, we’ve got 4 offices in, our expertise is, our philosophy is, we believe…

You get the idea.  We, us, our, we.  But their customers were no where to be seen. 

How do you feel about a person who just talks about themselves?  Do you have a sense that they care about you?  Do you want to hang out with them?

The same goes for marketing.  Your copy needs to reach out and connect with the audience before you start talking about yourself.  You want them to demonstrate that you understand  who they are and what problems they are facing.  After you’ve established that — then and only then can you begin talking about yourself.

How did I fix the client’s copy?   I added four questions to the very beginning of their home page which asked:

Are you irritated when you…
Are you tired of having to pay for…
Does it grate on your nerves when….
What if it didn’t have to be that way?

And so on.  You get the idea.  I did some other tweaking of course…but started by adding the customer back into the copy.

You know what I am going to tell you to do next.  If you’re brave enough, go check out your own brochures, websites, print ads, etc.

Is your customer there at all?

Related posts:
Your big deal is no big deal
Do you have any idea what he’s selling?
You don’t know what you don’t know

Update:  Mark over at Really Practical Marketing has added to the conversation by offering some ideas on how you can make your copy more customer focused.

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14 comments on “Where in the world is your customer?

  1. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    Leads, prospects, clients are all tuned in to the WII-FM station: What’s In It For Me.
    Does being established for 45 years help ME, does having 4 offices help ME? What are the benefits of your expertise for ME? Does yous philosophy help ease MY pain, solve my problem?

    Strong copy focused on you the lead, you the prospect, you the clients wins miles ahead of the standard we are, we have, we do.
    Once you start to get the hang of this style of copy-writing is becomes easy and you start cringing when you read ‘standard’ copy anywhere 😉

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  2. Jay Ramirez says:

    It’s great to see other companies starting to change from older, “Look how great we are!” websites to a more customer-centric, “If this is your problem, here’s how we can help.”

    I think the next step will be more integrated with social networking and community so your questions are slightly tuned to say:

    What irritated you when…
    What are you tired of paying for…
    What grates on your nerves….
    Tell us what way it should be…

  3. Jeff Gwynne says:


    Right on (brother). In our market (high tech start-ups)this “about us” problem is particularly acute in presentations – prospect, partner and investor. We always advocate the problem/solution as the first two slides and the about us at the end. If you don’t get your audience with the opening gambit, you’re dead. As for the about us, they wouldn’t be listening if they didn’t already know about you.


  4. Karin,

    Ah yes, the WII-FM mantra. It’s human nature, even if some people don’t want to admit it.

    It’s really about forming a new writing habit, isn’t it? It reminds me of how smokers who have quit react to being around smoke. They’re hyper-sensitive to the smell.

    I think once you shift your writing, you are hyper-sensitive to self-centered writing.


  5. Jay,

    The world is a-changing! And you’re right, it is about time! I think the other change is that the language has gone from corporate speak to conversational English.

    Again, another good change.


  6. Karin H. says:

    And then next change in business concept should be:
    change the USP to UBP: Unique Buying Proposition – again more focused on the buyer not the seller.

    Karin H.

  7. Jeff,

    That is so true. There’s a guy who runs seminars for agencies on how to get more business. I will always remember one thing he said — if they ask you for a capabilities presentation, go in with 30 questions about them.

    Say “we’ll tell you all about us but first we have a few questions” and then begin asking your very smart questions and the follow ups that come from the answers.

    When you have used all the time…apologize for not getting to your capabilities but say that “you think the last 30 minutes (or whatever) probably told them all they need to know about you.

    Pretty smart.


  8. Michael,

    That’s a fine way to put it — caught up in our own hype.

    When you think about it, you wouldn’t walk up to someone at a party and just start talking about yourself. Or if you did, pretty soon you’d be standing alone!

    I wonder why we think it’s so different in marketing?


  9. Karin,

    Brilliant…UBP. And all it would take is a twist of the same message/language.

    How’d you get to be so smart??


  10. Karin H. says:

    LOL Drew

    You get ‘smart’ by surrounding yourself and learning from wise persons, who lead by example and are very generous in sharing their knowledge 😉

    Karin H.

  11. Great points. This concept is extrememly important if you’re wanting customers to “feel” you.

  12. Karin,

    You have chosen well! Their smarts have certainly rubbed off. And I suspect you brought quite a few to the party on your own!


  13. Scott,

    And since every purchase we make is an emotionally based purchase — our prospects being able to “feel” us is a vital element of the sales pitch.


  14. Becky,

    So true — if we can put ourselves in the prospect’s shoes, we’re going to have a much better change of speaking in their “native tongue.”

    Which makes communications on both sides so much easier and more effective. If only businesses would give it a shot…


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