Finding the Octopus Toy: Why Understanding Your Customers Matters

by Jeremy Tang

Finding the Octopus Toy

My 3-year-old brought back a Mother’s Day card from preschool, consisting of some questions against which her answers were pure gold. Here’s a peek:

I love my Mummy because… “My mummy tickles me on my arm and cuddles me.”

How old is Mummy? “She’s ten.”

What is Mummy’s favorite food and drink? “Coffee and fruit.”

If you had all the money in the world, what would you buy your Mummy? “An octopus toy.”

As her father, I thought I knew her inside out. But some of these answers were surprising, and heartwarming ?.

This got me thinking about marketing. We love our data, performance metrics, and analytics. But sometimes, we forget to simply talk to our customers. Because, let’s face it, sometimes they want an octopus toy and not what we assume they do.

I’ve been guilty of this too. We often assume we know what our customers want based on numbers. But real insights come from real conversations.

Here’s a great example from our consulting work:

We were working with a national mobile IT help desk company trying to understand what drove customers to use their services. After speaking directly with over 100 of their customers, we discovered that a large proportion of those who bought their services were the adult children of older parents who needed help with their computers. The actual users of the services were the older parents, while the buyers were their adult children.

This was a segment they had never thought of targeting. Armed with this insight, we helped them create a highly successful marketing campaign focused on addressing the motivations of these adult children – ensuring their parents received the tech support they needed.

The result? A significant increase in engagement and service uptake, leading to substantial growth in their customer base. This success came directly from understanding the why behind the data, not just the what.

So, marketers, next time you’re deep in metrics, remember to also take time to talk. You might be surprised at what you learn.

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