I was advising a new photographer friend this morning about how, even in the photography business, one must think about the target customer more than one's product, invention, (photographs), concept, etc.
All too often, we come up with a great idea (or a great photo) and then try to find people who want to buy it. Take it from me: that's really hard! It's much more efficient and effective to first identify your ideal customer, and get to know him/her so deeply that you understand the actual needs there.
I like to ask my customers a lot of questions, and I listen with determined focus, care, and empathy... a loving, listening ear. And then I strive to put what I learn into action, finding or building solutions to their problems. By asking questions, I get clear about my customers' needs.
Some people say this is stupid. They quote Henry Ford saying that people did not really want cars, they wanted faster horses. The (actual?) Henry Ford quote goes like this: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”But I did a search on this today and came across a very interesting blog on determining your customers' needs.
There is a good conversation going on in this blog... The main point is something I like very much: don't get misled by cute quotes. Use your head and intuition.
You won't get good answers if you ask your customers or prospects"
product would you like me to sell you?"
Instead ask many deeper questions (like "What is your greatest fear, frustration, or challenge?"). In this way, you can work to get a true understanding of the customer's needs.
(What's more, one person says that, in fact, this quote was not even actually said by Ford).
Who is your customer? Who do you love? What are they really struggling with? What are the problems they are trying to solve right now?