Don’t assume yourself out of a market

I’ve blogged before about how dangerous it is to make assumptions about people, particularly when those people are your customers. 

A great example is seniors and computers. I’ve mentioned before about the fallacy of assuming over 55s are no good with computers and there’s many an arrogant computer superstore employee who’s found themselves belittled by a polite lady older than their grandmother.

So it’s not a good idea to stereotype your market or your customers.

We see this a lot in the tech sector. People make assumptions about users all the time – Mac users are skivvy wearing metrosexuals, MySpace users are giggly teenage girls, and anyone who can fix a computer is a spotty geek with a shirt pocket full of pens.

Almost all of these ideas are lazy, simplistic and wrong. Except maybe the bits about geeks, pens and metrosexuals.

This means businesses are missing out. For instance it’s easy to dismiss social media like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn as being for bored teenagers engaging in pointless gossip when they are really powerful marketing and communications tools being used by people of all ages.

Twitter in particular sees a lot of criticism from those who haven’t taken the time to understand it or why people find the medium useful. This is even more worrying when many of those critics are in the very industries where Twitter is now a valuable tool.

You need to understand customers and not rely on tired old stereotypes. If you just assume your customers are teenagers, retirees or yuppies, you might be in for a nasty shock.

Even if you are right about who your customers are, assuming their needs today are the same as they were two, five or 10 years ago is a risky game to be playing.

In the current market, you can’t assume anything about your clientele. It’s worthwhile getting online and having at look at the communications channels your customers use, and what they are saying about you and your competitors. You might find your assumptions are wrong.


Paul Wallbank has spent 15 years helping businesses with their technology issues. Over that time he also grew PC Rescue into a national IT company and set up the IT Queries website. Today Paul assists business facing the challenges of today’s market and believes entrepreneurs and new thinking is what will fix the global economy.

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