Customers Don’t Exist

customers don't exist

There is no such thing as Customers.

There are ‘your customers’, ‘not your customers’ and ‘possible customers’.  But there is no one customer. There is no single entity with a fixed set of attributes that is “the Customer.” That is a fallacy and a fiction that will frustrate you into oblivion.

If you have a quality focused product business such as Craft Coffee, Craft Beer, quality food, Chocolate or the like this is even more true. Specialty Coffee customers are not every human being on the planet. The pedal to the metal pursuit of “The Customer” is a fool’s errand at best. You can no more serve the customer than you can win an earthquake. Because:

I will prove it. Close your eyes right now. Do it. Close them.

Now imagine “The Customer.”

Build a picture of them in your mind. Imagine their clothing, their hair style, their height and weight. What do they look like? What color are they? How tall are they?How much do they spend? What do they like? What do they want?

specialty coffee customer

Now imagine some of YOUR Customers.

Build a picture of them in your mind. What do they look like? What color are they? How tall are they? How much do they spend? What do they like? What do they want?

Easier right? You can’t picture THE Customer because they don’t exist. But you can picture some of YOUR customers. Because they actually exist.

specialty coffee customer

Now to really mess with your mind let’s try the experiment again. Close your eyes and imagine not YOUR customer. Instead picture ‘NOT your customer.’ Imagine someone who will never buy your product or service. What do they look like? Sound like? What do they like? What do they dislike?

There is a hell of a lot of them right? Far more NOT Your Customers than Your Customers. (If this is not true then stop reading and retire, you already won.)

I am not confident on the origin of the myth of giving The Customer what they want. It makes a certain amount of folksy ‘common sense-ness’ to think that a specialty craft business is about giving ‘the customer’ what they want. After all they pay your bills right? Did they?

It sounds great. but It’s not true. The Customer does not pay your bills. Your Customers pay your bills. If that sounds like contrarian pedantic demagoguery then you are missing the point, it’s nuanced but extremely powerful. The only people who you deal with on a regular basis are your customers, not the customer in general, but actual, human beings who are interested in purchasing, or actually purchasing, your products or services. Actual people. Your Customers. These are the people who actually buy your products. People who come to your business, your website or your operation and exchange money for your goods and services.

specialty coffee customer

If a person did not exchange money for your goods or services they are NOT Your Customers. They are either NOT Your Customers, or Potential Customers. Specialty Coffee Customers are those people who buy your specialty coffee. Sounds obvious right? Clear as the day is long. (daylight savings time not withstanding) Then why do we spend so much time, money and energy talking about the customer and trying to give them what they want? If you spent as much time in your business thinking of creative, value added, unique to your business ways to give YOUR customers goods and services they want to exchange money for your business would skyrocket. You would be profitable, growing, successful and satisfied. Your employees and vendors would love you. Your customers would support you loyally and drag their friends in as well.

You know who wouldn’t support you? Who wouldn’t drag their friends and family into your business? Not your customers. Think about that for a minute. Let it permeate your membrane. If you are in a specialty or craft or quality focused business, the mind achingly large percentage of humans who are Not Your Customer is staggering. I don’t mean the percentage of humans who are not YET your customer; those are potential customers; I mean the vast majority of people who are specifically not your customers. Those people whose when given a chance to enjoy your product or service; don’t. They don’t enjoy it, they don’t like it and they actively don’t want it. They are not your customer and they never will be. Don’t waste your precious time and money on them, they don’t appreciate it and won’t respond, let alone exchange their money for your goods.

What about potential customers? Those people who have not yet exchanged their money for your goods. Those are a vast gold mine of untapped potential. They have some or all of the attributes of your customers and have the potential to buy your goods. But do not confuse potential customers of YOURS with the potential of ALL customers. Just because someone has money does not mean they are your customer. Not now, not ever.

The great heaving majority of the people on this planet do not want to be your customer. They don’t give a rat’s ass how much you “give them what they want.” They ain’t buying it. So why are you trying so hard to sell it to them? Don’t fritter away your resources chasing them.

Instead chase your customers and your potential customers. Put all your eggs in those baskets. Commit to your customers and your team. Don’t fall victim to the wishful fantasies of giving the customer what they want. Redouble your efforts on doing what you do best and to quote Walt Disney:

walt disney quote

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