Your Customers Are Smarter Than You

Posted on 27 February 2015

Have you heard of Sugru? It’s the name of a product, and of the company that makes it. I’m a customer and a fan (and they’re not paying me to say that!). I especially like that the name Sugru is inspired by the Gaelic word for “play”.

Sugru is mouldable, silicone-based glue, kind of like playdough, that turns into rubber after it’s exposed to the air. People use it in all sorts of ingenious ways to fix, adapt and improve their stuff rather than throw it away – on Sugru’s About page, watch the video (only 1m 29s), and scroll down to see examples.


I used Sugru to make a badly designed knife more comfortable to use

So why am I telling you this?

The folks at Sugru are very smart, yet they concede that they get their best ideas from their customers. Users around the world send emails, photos and videos, and post tweets and Facebook updates, about how they’ve used the product, and how they want it to be improved. They even get to vote on which colours of Sugru should be developed next.

All those stories guide the company’s R&D efforts, and also become compelling, educational and entertaining source material for its content marketing efforts.

The inventor of Sugru and the company’s founder and CEO, Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, said: “Our customers… do stuff with it that we couldn’t have dreamt of.”

Author Kevin Kelly had a similar message in his book, “New Rules for the New Economy – 10 ways the network economy is changing everything”:
“Expertise now resides in fanatical customers. The world’s best experts on your product or service don’t work for your company. They are your customers, or hobby tribe.”
(Thanks to my friend Stephen Barnes of the Hong Kong Visa Centre for recommending the book.)

So are your customers using your products or services in ways you didn’t expect and couldn’t have dreamt of? Asking for and paying attention to their stories might inspire you to develop some popular new products or services, lead to some profitable new revenue streams for you, and give you some terrific content to share.

Because as I always say, marketing isn’t just about advertising; it’s about understanding your customers’ behaviour, perceptions, motivations, expectations…

And because you’re smarter than me…

I’m asking for your help, so that I can better understand what you (and people like you) really want from someone like me.

Could you please take a couple of minutes to answer four short questions in my survey? No need to give your name or email address.


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