“Customer Focused”: A Mindset Shift

Two people working at a desk on their laptops.
Gerson Petit Alva August 7, 2019

“Customer Focused”: A Mindset Shift

Is your marketing just not going anywhere? Maybe you’re doing everything you’re supposed to—posting on social media, writing blog posts, sending emails—but you’re not getting clients. By this point, you’re probably asking yourself, ”What’s wrong with my marketing?”

External Problems

If yours is like most businesses, then most of your marketing is geared towards solving your customers’ external problems. What are those?

Our clients’ external problems are the visible obstacles they face. On a surface level, we could say our clients hire us to solve their external problems, things like a leaky roof or an outdated website.

But to reach your customers’ hearts, you need to offer solutions for their internal problems. What are internal problems, and why should they matter to you?

Internal Problems

When customers reach out to you, they’re asking for more than a website update, for example. Things like frustration move your customers to seek help. In this case, their outdated website is turning away many of their potential customers. This frustration is your customer’s internal problem.

If you want to reach your customers’ hearts, you must appeal to their internal frustrations. Focus on how your customers feel. Empathize with them and show them you can help in real ways. Become customer-centric.

In his book Building a StoryBrand, New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller outlines a storytelling approach to marketing. In every story, there’s a hero. In marketing, the hero isn’t you. Your customer is the hero. Treating the customer as the hero will guarantee your success.

Becoming Customer-Centric

Many businesses will say they are “customer focused.” Maybe you have that on your own website.

But what does that mean? What does being customer focused actually look like in your business? Here are a couple of examples:

  • Listen to your customers. If possible, invite them to participate in the problem-solving process.
  • Engage in their lives. Remember—understanding your customers’ internal problems to later come up with solutions for these is key to getting new customers—and retaining them.

Apple’s Example

Apple has earned its position as one of the world’s most valuable companies. Focusing too much on its own products, Apple initially overwhelmed its customers with tech details about its products. The company’s impersonal marketing caused them to struggle.

But when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he launched a new marketing strategy. Instead of bombarding customers with information about Apple, he presented customers with images of happy, sophisticated people enjoying their user-friendly Apple products.

Apple’s marketing shifted from concentrating on external matters—like screen sizes and battery life— to focusing on internal ones like status, comfort, and a sense of belonging.

As a result, Apple’s sales skyrocketed. Currently, millions of people use and enjoy Apple products.

Do you want your customers to be as loyal to you as some are to Apple? Then follow their example.


Your company exists to solve your customers’ problems. Focus on solving internal problems. Don’t be so consumed with marketing your business that you actually alienate potential customers. Instead, focus on your customers and figure out how you can best serve them.