What your customers don’t care about
written by: Scott Flood
After six months of tireless effort, your company’s new website has been launched, and you’re
ready to announce it to the world. That’s probably a waste of your time.
Hey, I get it. Everyone’s worked hard, and you’ve invested a small fortune into the process. Your
new site is quite impressive, and you’re deservedly proud. But why should anyone outside your
A local company in an industry we could politely describe as staid flooded its social media feeds
for weeks with announcements about their exciting new website. The company doesn’t really do
business online, so the website’s role is to reinforce the company’s legitimacy among potential
What do your customers want?
If I stopped one of their customers on the street and asked, “Did you know they have a new
website?”, I’d wager the normal answer would be “Gee, that’s nice.” They wouldn’t respond by
running back to the office to bring the new site up on their computer. Would you?
I’m not picking on the company, which I hold in the highest regard. But their leadership is doing
what so many companies do — taking something that’s of importance internally and assuming
the outside world is every bit as interested. Put another way, what’s a big deal to you probably
isn’t all that exciting to your customers.
Another example? I’ve spent much of my career helping banks compete, and it’s amazing how
many bankers believe the secret to compelling advertising involves showing photos of their
buildings. (Funeral homes do the same, for some reason.) We all have relationships with
financial institutions. Did you choose yours because of the way the branch looks? “I’ve been
with First Community Savings for 20 years, but golly, Second Amalgamated Bank has a pretty
branch. I’d better transfer all my money right away.”
How to make a marketing blunder?
These are two of the most common ways companies make a big marketing mistake. They
promote things that may be important to the companies but are meaningless to their customers.
Nobody’s trying to ignore what matters to the customer. The companies making the mistake are
proud and want everyone to know it.
Most of the time, it comes down to ego. But customers aren’t interested in your ego. They want
to know what you’re going to do for them and why you’ll do it better than anyone else. You have
a limited number of opportunities and even less time to connect with them, so don’t waste it with
stuff they find meaningless.
I’m a salesman’s kid, and Dad worked straight commission throughout his career. Had he walked
into his customers’ offices and started telling them about the shiny new Buick he drove to the
call, or showed them photos of his secretary’s typewriter, our family would have gone hungry.
He didn’t get paid unless he made a sale, so he talked to them about their needs and how he
could solve their problems. That got their attention and their orders.
Dad knew the key to his success was focusing on what the customer wanted to know, not on
whatever his employer might be proud of. Did he engage in small talk? Absolutely, but his small
talk was about the customers, not about himself. So people listened when he spoke and took his
recommendations seriously. When something went wrong on their production line and they
needed help, they called him instead of one of his many competitors.
By all means, take pride in your accomplishments. Celebrate that new website with your team.
But before you choose to center your external messaging on those internal triumphs, take an
honest look in the mirror and ask if that’s what really matters to your customers. If the roles were
reversed and the company promoting their new website was your vendor, would you really care?
Originally published May 17, 2022 on Scott Flood Writing
Exclusively prepared for market-ting.com
by Scott Flood
Scott Flood established Scott Flood Writing in 1995 after 13 years with advertising agencies in Chicago and Indianapolis. The Chicago native is a frequent author on copywriting and marketing topics for business publications, has authored two books of local interest, Books for All the People: the First Century of the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library and A Guide to the Enabling Garden, and is also the author of 100 Years: The Story of the Western States Machine Company.