Do your customers see things the same way as you?

My children have watched the same episode of their current favourite cartoon on Netflix every day for a week. Happy Hearts Day is pretty self-explanatory. One day a year in the Rainbow Kingdom pink happy hearts are given out. Star of the show True, who is the girl with blue hair, together with Bartleby, her sassy ninja cat, love it! via GIPHY

They want to share Happy Hearts Day with everyone, even the Rainbow King’s gloomy cousin, Glummy Glooma, who never joins in. They have the best of intentions, are being generous and genuinely want to be friendly.

Glummy tells them: “Happy’s not really my thing.” The duo are taken aback. “Really? Happy is everyone’s thing!” They reply.

Glummy tries to join in with inevitable consequences: the happy hearts become miserable.


True saves the day (that’s what she does) by empathising with Glummy Glooma and seeing things from his point of view.

Often things fall flat because we don’t see how our actions or viewpoint might play out from where others are standing.

This week a school apologised after children were asked to nominate classmates for awards including best looking female, biggest poser, most irritating habit and biggest strop.

It might have seemed like harmless fun when someone came up with the idea but the kids nominated for some of those awards would not have felt good about it and others who didn’t win would have been upset too.

Before you launch something think about how it will play out from another person’s point of view. What stories will they tell about it? Do those stories dovetail with the story you want to tell?

You can’t please all the people all of the time. But having a very clear idea about who your ideal customer is and how that person (you do need to have a single person in mind) would respond to your product, service or message, is important if your efforts are going to be well received. Glummy Glooma was not the ideal client for Happy Hearts Day. A class of 13 and 14-year-olds, and their families, were not the ideal clients for the awards suggested for that assembly. 

You should also consider the PR implications of your messaging. The key test is whether you would be happy for your company name and the message you have put out being splashed across the front page of a newspaper. 

Not everyone wants the same thing. Be sure you know what your ideal customer wants, rather than giving them something you like and assuming they’ll be into it too.

Rachel Extance (photo by Jemima Willcox)

Rachel Extance helps business tell their stories so they can reach a wider audience for their work and ideas. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. If you would like help to get your message across, need someone who can write articles for you regularly, or you would like actionable ideas for how to tell more people about what you do, get in touch by emailing or contact her on social media.

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Rachel Extance

Award-winning journalist and blogger. I help service-based business owners communicate who they are, what they do, and why. If you struggle to talk about yourself on your website or your content marketing, get in touch with me.

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3 Responses

  1. I love how you’ve used everyday examples to make to raise our awareness about the importance of empathy, Rachel.

    “Often things fall flat because we don’t see how our actions or viewpoint might play out from where others are standing.”

    Great point & a good post to remind us to consider the worldview of others

  2. Really enjoyed reading this ! I like how you weave in stories about your children, cartoons, troubling events on social media and tie it all together – the end point you make brings it home- Not everyone wants the same thing. Be sure you know what your ideal customer wants, rather than giving them something you like and assuming they’ll be into it too.- How would you teach decision makers in corporations this skill? I see a lot of empathy in this last statement! Very thoughtful.

  3. Thanks Rachel! My little one loves True too! I also was struck by the way Glummy’s sadness was “allowed” and respected. What a novel idea…it’s not necessary to cheer everyone up all the time!

    It’s so hard to believe that survey could happen in this day in age, but I remember a similar one in high school just a couple decades ago and didn’t think twice about it at the time. (But what’s a “strop”??)

    So here’s what I’m wondering…how can you ever ensure you’re giving the customer what they really want instead of what you assume they’ll want. We can do our best to empathize, but ultimately, we can’t get it right every time. In the high school survey example, if everyone who was in the room when the survey was made assumed their ideal “customer” wanted it and saw no issue with it (due to their own worldview and perhaps lack of exposure to other perspectives), how do you get past the limitations of one’s ability to empathize fully/accurately? Maybe it’s a matter of having the right people in the room, or at least checking in with them before hitting “post.” 🙂

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