Friday, February 12, 2010

Assume nothing about the customer

This blog is mostly about what happens when someone assumes something about the customer that turns out not to be true.  For example, that Sears photo customers will always need someone to make photo copies for them, or that the "change battery" light on a smoke detector needs only to be illuminated at the moment that the low battery is detected.

Here's another one.  It's from the weekly mailer of "Big Lots," a discount department store chain that sells items that manufacturers have overproduced is too expensive to keep in inventory:
The Cricut Create(TM) personal electronic cutter combines the portability of the original Cricut Machine with the functionality of the Cricut Expression(TM)! step up includes DonJuan cartridge over $50 value, 6" x 12" cutting mat, power adapter & instructional DVD, no computer needed
I don't know what a Cricut Machine does.  I don't know what a Cricut Expression does. I don't know what a DonJuan cartridge is supposed to be. If it's used for scrapbooking I might be interested in getting it for my wife who's into that (we actually buy quite a bit of her scrapbooking stuff at Big Lots), but I honestly have no idea why I should buy this. 

The value proposition statement for a product should be written up not just so that engineering understands what thye're trying to build, but so that customers understand that it will address their needs.  Since your engineers understand your core business, the marketing message used to attract customers probably will be different and should not assume the customer knows what you do.  If after all is said and done 3 out of 4 grandmas still don't understand why anyone would buy the product, perhaps it's time to bring in a creative marketing agency.

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