Know and Value Your Customer: A Forgotten Rule

One of the hardest things to teach marketers is that our customers are everything and that our brands are–in the minds and lives of our customers–tiny, inconsequential things. That level of humility can be hard to achieve, but it’s necessary to be successful.

To start, which is easy if you have a properly-trained marketing team, is knowing who your customers are and the target audience from whence they come. Then, you have to understand the LTV of your customers and be able to assign the LTV by source. See my article from a few years ago about building a marketing whiffletree.

What happens if you don’t understand your customers and their value to your enterprise?

Chaos.

For example, you may start to focus on social media commenters1, full of grievances and bile. But they are short of the very necessary cash that enables your company to be a going concern. In turn, by focusing on the noise, we turn our focus away from the high LTV customer. Without the proper attention, they will shrug and send their custom elsewhere. Trading a focus on high LTV customers for a fixation on zero LTV social media trolls is an unpardonable sin. (Quick question: What is the real value of a social media follower? Do the math properly and you’ll get something that roughly rhymes with “hero.”)

And here’s the thing: Unless you are in FMCG, generally the better and more valuable your brand, the more polarizing it will be. Relatively few people like you and relatively more people either (mostly) ignore or hate you. If you really understand your customers and have de-averaged your LTV, it makes it easier to keep one’s eyes on the signal.

Somebody will always be outraged about what you do: Pricing, product assortment, promotional tactics, and so on will somewhere, someplace, drive a keyboard warrior crazy.

But if the LTV $0 keyboard warriors aren’t your customers, and your customers don’t care what they say, why should you?

Takeaway: Understand and focus on your target audience. Know where your LTV comes from. Ignore the rest. And win.

1 Internet rule #1, practiced by successful marketers: Never, ever, read the comments.

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