I was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day and Ben Affleck was his guest. Ben’s new movie, in which he plays the lead role and directs, is called Argo and is based on a true story. The talked about what it takes to play a character based on a real person. Actors spend time learning mannerisms, accents, and what its like to walk a day in their shoes. They want to know the real person on such a level that they can anticipate every move. That’s when it clicked.
As entrepreneurs we all have heard a million times that we are not selling products to people; we are providing a solution to their problems. Who better to tell you about their problems than your customers? Pragmatic Marketing preaches NIHITO, Nothing Interesting Happens In The Office. Get out of the office, meet your customers, get to know them by name, they are a wealth of knowledge. And when you’re out there, do you best to leave you product at the office. This is not a sales trip. Your goal is to know your target audience so well you can anticipate their every move. You have to learn to think like them so you can build the best products to meet their needs. Get to know workflows, why things are done the way they are, and especially major pain points because those are what people are most quick to spend money to solve.
Intuit founder Scott Cook started the Follow Me Home Program in the early days of the company. He would wait outside office supply stores for customers who purchased Quicken and ask to follow them home and observe their interaction with the software. This program is alive and well, even today as Intuit generates over $4 billion per year in revenue. I would encourage every company to establish their own Follow Me Home Program. Document it, create metrics, and built it into your calendar. It is not by mistake that great products are created. Those that know their customers by name are building a sustainable business and success for the long term.