For anyone doing marketing, the only thing that really matters is the customer.

And I’m not talking about customers as the people buy products or services. I’m talking about marketing focused on a customer’s needs, interests, problems, pains and aspirations. It is marketing that resonates with customers because it’s about them and the experiences that a product delivers. On the flipside, marketing about a brand’s product, platform, technology, features or price will likely fail to make an impact.

At the Marketing Leap conference yesterday in Waterloo, it was interesting to hear panelists (including the storytelling panel that I participated in) talk about serving the needs and interests of customers. It was like we – as marketers – had to be reminded about who matters at a time when we’re crazy-busy creating content and being active on social media.

Amid this marketing busyness, it is easy to forget about the customer. Marketers are so focused on feeding the machine that customers can get lost in the process. This is a huge mistake because if you don’t know your customers, your marketing isn’t going to be effective.

One of the keys to marketing success is talking to your customers on a regular basis. It’s how brands get valuable insight about how their products can better serve customers. If they’re approached, customers will happily talk as long as you let them. They will offer up information about how your product has to be improved or why it sucks.

And, most important, they will be happy to be asked. Given all the benefits, brands should be talking to their customers all the time. Ideally, there should be playbooks or frameworks that make customer interviews an integral part of how the business operates. The number of customer interviews should be a key metric to determine if a business is operating efficiently and intelligently.

There are many ways to talk with customers. It can happen at conferences, meet-ups, coffee shops, user groups, lunches, dinners…and the list goes on. It doesn’t matter where and when it happens, it just matters that it happens. 

Are you talking to your customers? If so, how does it happen?

If you’re looking to jump-start your startup marketing, I can help you make it happen – everything from messaging and brand positioning to strategic planning and content development. I published a book, Storytelling for Startups, that provides strategic and tactical guidance to entrepreneurs looking to embrace the power of story-driven marketing.