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What Your Customers Really Want

Not 1 business in 100 understands what they’re truly selling to customers…

What Your Customers Really Want

The things we truly want always run deeper than we allow ourselves to admit. Our motive for action hides beneath the superficial. It’s true for me, it’s true for you and it’s true for your customers. Understand this and you can influence your customers on a level you’ve never known before.

I love stories. I really do. Books, movies, TV shows. To me a good story is never a waste of time because it makes you feel something. It connects you to something within yourself on a deep, emotional level.

When you connect emotions with ideas you make decisions.

How one movie reminded me of an important marketing truth

I watched a movie I enjoyed last night and immediately began to write down some ideas because the movie reminded of an important marketing lesson.

The movie was called The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez with his dad Martin Sheen the main character.

I won’t tell you what happens but the premise of the film is that Martin Sheen’s character Tom walks the 800km pilgrimage ‘el camino de Santiago’ from Southern France through the pyrenees to the Atlantic east coast of Spain in Galicia.


These sign posts with the official shell of el camino lead the way throughout the 800km trek through Northern Spain

Along the way he meets three companions who are each walking ‘the way’ for their own unique reasons.

One wants to overcome writers block, another wants to lose weight and the last wants to give up smoking.

It wasn’t until the end of the movie though that the truth was revealed… a human truth valuable to any business owner trying to persuade new customers.

The greatest philosophers, influencers, leaders, kings, emperors and marketers of history have all known this one truth…

The true motive for action hides beneath the surface.

You see, humans make decisions with emotion first and try to back it up with logic. So we think our decisions are logical, but by the time logic kicks in we’ve already decided what we want.

And what we want is so personal that we feel too vulnerable admitting it even to ourselves. So we use the superficial, external, logic motive as the excuse we tell ourselves and the world.

We’ll buy a car we can’t afford and tell ourselves it’s economical, won’t break down, we deserve it and will make a good impression for the business but really it’s for status, social approval and a desire to feel worthy.

We care more about what the car says about us to other people than if it’s even a good idea to buy an expensive car in the first place.

So what does all this mean to your business and marketing?

It means that you’re probably failing to communicate to your customers properly and losing sales because of it.

If you dig deep enough into your product or service you’ll get to the real reason people buy what you sell. You’ll begin to understand what you really do for your customers.

I don’t care what business you’re in, you’re not selling what you think you are.

The landscape gardener isn’t selling beautiful gardens.

The clothes designer isn’t selling good looking clothes.

The artist isn’t selling a painting.

The restaurant isn’t selling tasty food.

What do I mean by this?

Look, every business solves the problem of a customer. But here’s where it gets difficult…

You see, there are two levels of the single same problem…

Every problem contains the superficial and the internal.

Here’s what I mean by this…

The superficial problem is what you think your business does for the customer. It’s the obvious. It’s the landscaper making the garden great, the designer designing great clothes, the artist painting on a canvas and the chef cooking through the heat.

But that’s not really why your customer is buying from you.

They’re buying from you to satisfy their deep-rooted internal problem.

People don’t buy your weight-loss product to lose weight. It’s rarely even to be healthier. They buy it to be loved. To feel worthy of love.

The house owner hires a landscape gardener not just to have beautiful grass, nice trees and an even surface to walk on. They hire a landscape gardner to create a place to enjoy, to feel at peace and gain the social approval of their friends and neighbours when hosting a summer barbecue.

The clothes designer isn’t just selling clothes, they’re selling status, power, confidence, sex appeal, attractiveness and the desire to feel worthy of romantic attention.

The artist sells more than a pretty picture, they’re selling a message that communicates to the buyer something they feel inside that they want to feel again and again.

The chef doesn’t just create tasty food, they create an environment the customer is happy to take a date or a client, a place they’re happy yo be associated with and to enjoy the experience of one of life’s most simple and rewarding pleasures.

There’s a Don Draper quote I love from Mad Men that tells you exactly what marketing truly is in one short paragraph…


Here’s why this quote is so profound…

The ultimate goal of human existence is happiness. The goal of your business, just like every other business out there, should be to make you and your customers happier.

And happiness is an inside job. Owning a car might make you happy for a moment but it won’t last long. But the freedom to go where you please? To no longer feel constrained to one place? To be able to take your kids to sports practice or on weekends trips and not have to wait for the bus? Now that’s more likely to make you happy.

Being able to have friends over for a barbecue and not be ashamed of your garden and what it says about you, that will make you happier than nice grass and trees.

What you think you sell is not what you really sell. You’re selling the solution to an internal problem that will make your customers happier. 

How to use this to make your customers (and you) happy

It’s simple but not easy. Take some time and think to yourself “Why do my customers really buy from me? What deep-rooted internal problem do I help them solve?”

When you have the answers you can use them in your marketing messages. On your website, emails, brochures, you name it.

When your customers feel like you really understand them and you communicate your value as a business to them that resonates not only with their head but with their heart, you’ll make more sales and price will be less of an issue. You’ll also get more satisfaction from what you do, knowing there’s a greater meaning and purpose to it all.

Understanding your customer will move you from commodity to leader and you’ll be competing in a market of one, a position in which  every business wants to be.

What about the characters in the movie?

 What the characters in the movie were truly looking for

They were all looking to be okay with themselves, their pasts and their present so they could get on with living their future happily.

The writer was looking to write the novel he’d always wanted to write but never got round to because he was too busy earning a living. He wanted to spend his time doing what would make him happy.

Joost, the fat man from Amsterdam wasn’t looking to lose weight so he could fit into his old suit for his brother’s wedding. He was looking to feel good about himself and confident that his wife would find him attractive again.

And the smoker? She was looking to forgive herself for her abortion and escape her abusive past with a free conscience to move forward with her life with less anger and bitterness.

Putting this information into practice

Imagine for a second you own a travel agency that organises trips for tourists to walk ‘el camino de Santiago’.

How much more powerful and effective would it be if, instead of selling beautiful scenery, health and exercise, you were to sell freedom from the past, the time to find yourself and the courage to live the life you’ve always wanted? You’d sell more, feel better about it and your customers would love you for it too.

It’s not grandiose to see the true value in what you do for a living. In fact, if you don’t realise what it is you truly do for your customers, you’re doing them and yourself a disservice.

What to do now

Take a look at your own business and think about what it is you really sell and how you can use that to improve how you communicate with your customers and prospects.

And let nothing, absolutely nothing, interfere with immediate action. A change for the better justifies no delay. Don’t watch your competitors win customers you could win. Take action now.

To your success however you define it,


Founder, Medici Marketing

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