What keeps your customer up at night? (Why you need to know and how you can find out)


People don’t lie in bed thinking “if I just had more information” or “if I just knew more about product x.” 


My first marketing boss told me that you need to know what keeps your customer up at night and help them with that problem. If you can do that, you are providing true value and that will inspire and build loyalty with your ideal customer. Todd Lebo

“People worry about how they are going to meet a sales quota, meet a project deadline, pay for their kids education, etc. So step one in content marketing is pick the right map and that map is inside the mind of your ideal customer. Customer logic.” 

“ We’ve all been there before, you attend an event that sounds perfect and within the first two minutes you realize that it is just a sales pitch, thinly veiled as an educational event. We feel manipulated and betrayed and would never trust the source, let alone buy their product,” explains Todd. Reference: Forbes / Tech 

So what keeps your customers awake at night? Do you know? And if you don’t know how can you find out?

That is what this post is all about so if you want to know how read on.

The traditional solution is to create a customer persona, an avata that is crafted from the data available in your existing customer database.

You know age, position, number of children, suburb, likes dislikes etc. and then you write the avata based on that information.

But how real is it?. Can you relate to that fictional person. Even if you ad a photo of someone are you able to empathise with them?

My question is, is the traditional avatar the best way to go?

I think there is a better way!

So how can you find out what your keeps your customer awake at night? What are their concerns?

I guess the only sure way to get it right is to ask them. But how can you ask a fictional character? A character constructed from data?

That is the major flaw in this traditional method because the persona is still a created person. They only exist in your imagination.  The better way is to take a real ideal customer from your existing customer base and talk to them.

Introducing the Target Profile!

Persona’s and Avatars Vs Target Profiles

There’s an American Indian saying that goes something like this; “You can’t judge another person until you have walked two moons in their moccasins”. In other words, you have no idea as to what goes on in any one else’s mind. You can try, but you are still inside your head!

So when we create a persona based on a real person, say a Nigel or Jane, real people who have feelings that you can see and hear. You see and feel how they react as they respond to your questions.

Their frustrations, fears, overwhelm and uncertainty are in plain sight and you personally see how the issues they describe actually effect them.

As you listen to them, you get a sense of the extent of the problems they are facing.

This is real. You do not need to create your ideal customers persona in your imagination.

A target Profile is an accurate record of how a real living breathing human being is suffering from the problems that your product or service can solve for them.

And because Nigel or Jane are typical of your target market every person in their situation will ‘get it’. They will connect, relate to your message at an emotional level because it contains real emotions.

What have you got to lose?

Find your ‘Nigel’ or ‘Jane’ in your existing customer base or someone who fits the fictional persona you have created and talk to them. And then write the Target Profile based on the interview. You will be amazed at what you will learn and how much easier it is to write for them.

I struggled for years creating personas but failed. As soon as I create target profiles based on real people in my target market and interviewed them it all came together.

Right now you’re probably thinking But I don’t know what to questions to ask.

That isn’t a problem because there are only three simple questions you need to ask. How easy is that?

The purpose of the questions is to help them uncover all of their problems related to their business.

(when they pause ask them if there are any other issues that cause them difficulty? Do not attempt to solve the problem at that time. Move onto the next question.)

The three easy questions

What is your main problem?

Why is it a problem?

What will happen if the problem remains unresolved? 

Repeat this process until you have addressed all of the problems.

What one of those issues is the most urgent to solve?

These questions will give you a list of the most pressing problems your client is facing. Then you can write a crystal clear version of your customer profile, avatar or persona. Read more about Target Profiles


This is a technique called Negative Enquiry. The purpose of the technique is to keep drilling down until you get the the most pressing problem.

Get a lsit of as many porblems as you can uncover and do not attemt to solve or deal with the issues until all have been listed. When you are sure there are no other problems then start to address them. You will find that th last problem mentioned will be the most stressful for the client.

Alan Cox Perth WAMore information

For more information email me, Alan Cox, or give me a call on +61 (0)414 288 050 and we can catch up for a coffee or a chat on Skype.




About the author 

Alan Cox

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