Archive for October, 2009

Who’s Educating Who?

October 16, 2009


Why do marketers use the phrase “educating the customer” so often? I can think of a few possibilities:

  • Customers aren’t buying. If they don’t know that our solution is what they need, they must need education so they can become as smart as us.
  • Our solution isn’t complete. Customers need to be educated in order to know that we sell computers, but they’re on their own in terms of finding a monitor.
  • Our solution isn’t meeting customer expectations. The data we sell is the best we can produce, but when customers look at it they say “there are errors in this data.” We need to teach them that their standards are too high. (Would a restaurant with this attitude last a second?)

None of these scenarios are flattering to the marketer. And they’re all, frankly, a bit arrogant. They start from the precept that we know more than the customer. Our job is to smarten the customer up. School is in session. Because our solutions are complex.

Customers’ problems, on the other hand, are quite simple. Even in the technical realm, they just want the network to be up or the software to do whatever it is they bought it to do. B2B buyers want to get on with business, and consumers want to get on with their life. A solution that does that will be welcomed.

And a marketer who assumes the role of pupil and says “customers, please educate me” will do very well indeed.