What Does “Focusing on the Customer” mean?

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Depending on your lens (engineer, designer, innovator, visionary, sales person, etc.), you may THINK you’re focusing on the customer, but going about it all wrong.  Making something your customers will LOVE comes down to a few simple things:

  • FOCUS – you can’t be everything to everyone.  Even Amazon and Facebook started with a clear, core group of customers, and you’ll have to similarly focus at the outset if you want to achieve greatness.  Find the right balance of a homogeneous group of buying behavior of customers, but big enough to be worth addressing and with potential follow-on markets.
  • Market research / interviews – the first step when you think you have a great idea isn’t to ask customers if they love it or if they’ll buy it, but to take a step back and ask them about their frustrations and needs in the area through customer interviews.  See if they align with what you were thinking, and sometimes they’ll even help you build an even better idea!
  • Customer personas – great companies have a crystal clear idea of who they are serving and what they can do for those customers, and are able to communicate it clearly inside and outside the organization.  It’s more than just a general profile of an age range and demographic.  Choose a specific person from your interviews who personifies your ideal customer – one with a large unmet need with the time and money to spend to adopt an offering you can develop.  Then you can refer back to this person to make decisions – about messaging, the product offering, marketing, everything!

Check out the videos of “Week 3: Customers” of the “Becoming an Entrepreneur” online course on MITx/edX:

This and more available for free at

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