Media Centre

Saturday 19th January 2019 - Last update: November 13th, 2018.

Understanding your customers

April 19, 2018


Type: Advice for Businesses

‘If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck’. The duck test implies that we can identify something by observing its habitual characteristics. All too often we make our own grand assumptions, mentally label something or someone to short cut our conclusions, and none more so than businesses with their own customers.


Marketing is about understanding your customers needs and wants. Because customers have a choice and they are free to choose the best company to serve those requirements which means there is always a chance that they will choose your competitors over you if you are not meeting customer expectations.


Wants and needs are of course very different things. Needs are the things that people and firms must have to carry on with what they are doing, so meeting a basic need is fundamental to your proposition.


Wants are the extra things that make the difference. They address perhaps an emotional characteristic that is important to an individual, it could make their lives or job easier and fulfils much more than the basic every day need.


Linking together needs and wants is where the customer experience comes into play, moving on from the transactional aspects and making way for relationship building and loyalty.


If you don’t really understand your customers however, relying on experience and your own opinions of what you would want if you were a customer of yours, then you could quite easily be getting things which are at best not quite right; worse still you could be getting things completely wrong. Both scenarios leave customers wide open to be enticed towards your competition to the detriment of business performance because you are not effectively satisfying your customer’s requirements.


Successful marketing is about finding out what customers expect from their suppliers and then crafting your offering accordingly to meet those expectations as closely as possible. Understand how and why you are different, how people really see your business from a customer viewpoint and then improve your value proposition based on facts, then take the message to market through your communications. It’s a win/win for you and your customers.


As for the duck test – even if your gut feel tells you it is duck and indeed turns out to be the case then consider this; what if the duck actually wants to be treated like a swan? You’ll find yourself on the path to mediocrity.


Be curious; your business will feel the impact.


If you would like to discuss this blog in more detail, please email Cheryl Jones who is the Managing Director of  – [email protected]


Cheryl Jones – Managing Director,

Cheryl is a CIM qualified marketer with over 25 years’ experience. A director of the marketing and branding consultancy arm of nxo, she works with owner managers of small businesses, advising on their internal and customer communications at a strategic level. You can