How to Know What Exactly Your Customer Wants


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Photo by Tookapic, CC0 1.0

Everybody wants something. Your customers want something from you… even if they don’t know what that “something” is themselves. (Confusing, isn’t it?) However, they must obviously believe in you… enough to give you their money.

Sometimes, though, giving people what they want isn’t so easy. A frustration many of my marketing pals share is the fact that people don’t really know what they want. We have a hard time grasping what that is, exactly. But we know it’s something. (It’s there, right on the tip of the tongue. You can j-u-u-u-s-t feel it.)

Here are a few handy ways you can use, right now, to know what the heck it is your customer is looking for – and how to figure out what that is… and how to give it to them.

Use Opt-In Data

When you find useful info about your list, use it – or else it isn’t useful. Simple, right? There’s no limiting ceiling for this “revolutionary” method of info recon gathering.

Questions you can ask are:

  • What industry they’re in
  • How often do they browse Ebay, Amazon, etc.
  • What do they look for the most on those sites?

The more info you pump out of customers, the better prepared you’ll be when it’s time to hit them with another product. Or if you’re in the service industry, you’ll be more prepared to solve their problems. Because you know how their minds work, and you can find more efficient routes of solving their problems in a faster fashion.

For example, let’s say quite a few clients of yours are in the cleaning service industry. (This is a hypothetical.) Now, just the other day you “happened” to come across a vacuum cleaner that promises to suck up every single thing it comes across.

Your independent research has shown that producing vacuum cleaners is a booming, profitable venture – and decide to manufacture your own vacuum. Now you have a product that goes against the “best vacuum cleaner”… and prove how yours tears the best to smithereens.

Information is power. Use the power you gain from new customers.


Sometimes, it is as simple as asking your already-existing list what it is they want. Or, to retain your brand of authority, ask “your people” how they would like you to benefit them in the future.

This technique towards securing sales and helping people is as easy as asking them what it is they want. Then merely give them what they want! This is the purest form of marketing, and the time and effort towards this form of marketing pays off for itself in spades. In fact, it’s practically “cheating”, since people are telling you what you can do for them. All that’s left is a matter of actually giving them what they ask for.

There’s a downside to this, however. It requires a hefty amount of invested time and effort on your part. In fact, this method of asking customers what they want is so hard to do… only the 1% wealthiest people in the world even try it.

This impossible method of asking people what they want… is giving them a survey. Platforms that let you set up these surveys includes SurveyMonkey, Wufoo, PopSurvey, etc. Imagine a world where people tell businesses what they’re looking for – the abomination! The horror! Surely such a thing has never been done before.

Make Notes

All the information you gather from people – their likes, their dislikes, who they are as a human being… all of it is worthless if you don’t store it… and remember it. Just like how you remember your lover’s birthday. Or what flavor of ice cream your best friend enjoys. Keep (and refer to) a comprehensive list of your customer’s personality traits and interests.

Reviewing these lists about people helps you form an idea of what they’re looking for. If you’re a cashier and a customer puts seventeen cans of cat food on the belt… it’s reasonable to assume she/he has a cat, right? By reviewing the data, you can make reasonable assumptions of what they’re looking for in the future.

This is in the same ballpark of upselling. A long time ago (after a few glasses of wine) I was channel surfing. Surprise, nothing was on, so I was forced to zone out in front of infomercials. Fun stuff.

One thing caught my eye, though: a behind-the-scenes DVD of one of the Rolling Stones’ concerts. I picked up the phone and ordered. After the sale was made, the call-taker asked me if I wanted an autographed Stratocaster. She was able to make this upsell based on the reasonable assumption that I was a fan of music.

Look at the information your clients and customers hand you: these are powerful goldmines for untapped profit.

(I didn’t order the guitar, by the way. I LOVE music… but I’m handicapped when it comes to making it.)

Forget About Business

At the end of the day, it’s all about giving your customers value. Think about why they do business with you. What is it you have to offer that makes them come to you instead of the other guys and gals down the road?

Analyse your most popular products, packages and most popular items… and then throw them out the window. (Metaphorically speaking.)

Then remember this: people come to you because you solve customer problems. You focus on their needs and then deliver on those needs. Remember the reasons why you started a business in the first place.

Know Them Better Than They Know Themselves

Let’s go back in time for a bit. During the time of horses and stagecoaches being the only way to get out and about. Horses weren’t an incredibly effective way of getting somewhere. One legendary man named Henry Ford asked a handful of people what they wanted. (You probably know this story.)

What the majority of them asked for was… a faster horse.

Well, Henry Ford knew them better than that. He invented what we know now as the automobile. His invention was incredibly faster than horses. What Mr. Ford did was take what people wanted… but couldn’t quite articulate… and make something better. Faster. Stronger.

Last Thoughts

Listening to people is important. Providing them healthy feedback is important. Showing your customers that their thoughts aren’t being ignored is important. But what’s even more important is not letting them tell you what they want from you.

That is a recipe for disaster. People make judgments about products/services they’ve used – and how they felt about it. It is your job to know how they’ll feel about something before they do.

Himanshu Agarwal
Himanshu Agarwal is the Founder & CEO of a Digital Marketing firm SmartWeb. He is an online market analyst, startup strategist and a writer. He has written on several topics including content marketing and technology. When not writing or on laptop, he loves spending his time reading inspiration books and watching movies.


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