If You Still Think The Customer Is King

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Marketing podcast with Aaron Shapiro (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Users Not Customers

You know the old adage – the customer is king, well there’s a new king and every business today must shift their focus to the much broader world of the user. A large segment of this user community may never buy from you, but in today’s increasingly digital world they do influence how your brand is perceived and, in the end, who does or does not become a customer.

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visit with Aaron Shapiro, author of Users, Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business

The trick is to become indispensable, through content and interaction to a large group of users, those that may never spend a dime with you, and your customers will naturally fall from this group. The larger the user group, the larger the customer pool.

Building products and adapting your business for users over customers takes a bit of a mind shift, but successful organizations are doing this in a variety of ways.

From my own experience, I can tell you that making your free products more valuable than your competitor’s paid products is one of the best ways to install this principle.

Shapiro also addresses one of my favorite topics – rapidly deploying new technology that benefits your users.

In one of the more telling moments in the interview Shapiro explains doing focus groups with millennials and when asked how much time they spent online they didn’t know how to answer the question. The next generation is so digital they can no longer distinguish moments when they aren’t online.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99)


Aaron Shapiro, Users Not Customers

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  1. John,
       My concern with constantly moving the bar up on “free” is that it, over time, will devalue nearly everything else. Follow where that path leads us too much further and I’m not sure that’s a place I’d want to live.

  2. John,

    I saw what you are talking about with my own eBook.  I’m an insurance agent that uses content / inbound marketing (don’t want to get  into the debate of which is which see TheSalesLion blog) to market my business.  I created an ebook on how I do that… Simple but useful and free.

    People love it… And though I would just consider them users now.  Many over time will become customers.  Love the concept.


    Ryan H.

  3. John – you make relevant and accurate points.  Perhaps the next stage of user-centric marketing is targeting searchers more acquiescent to becoming customers.  A good example of this is optimizing your website around “buyer” keywords.  By all means, provide your user base with free and beneficial products and information; however, internet marketers should also ensure that their sites and services are easily found by searchers seeking to buy. 

  4. Thank you for this broader perspective that I hadn’t thought of before. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to develop a free download or two.

  5. I totally agree!. Your free gifts must be more valuable than competitors.
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  6. We need to spread this message far and wide. There are still far too many business owners who think just by giving something away – opt-ins and sign-ups will come.

    That ‘giveaway’ is representing your brand and you…make it the best it can be. Never feel you are giving too much away!


  7. Providing huge levels of value to people in your chosen niche WILL, over time pay off by those people becoming leads, customers and long term business partners for your products or services.

    Great post

  8. Although it seems the concept of “freemium” has mixed results at this point in the evolution of business, supporting your service with a great product is not a new idea. Value, relative to your competitor, is judged solely by “users” and customers…despite what the stakeholders might perceive as valuable. The goal is to make consumers out of users. Since the single strongest influence in the buying decision is the opinion of your peers, that “users” group is your biggest marketing tool. I love how you point out the great importance of this group, relative to your sales. Thanks for the post.

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