disbelief bride

Today I find myself cursing Steve Jobs again.

Don’t get me wrong…Steve Jobs was a brilliant man. I have tremendous admiration for his accomplishments, his creativity, his brazen independence. The world would be a less wonderful place without him.

Except. He made a statement that holds entrepreneurs back. Wedding vendors swarm over it like rats aboard a sinking ship.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

I love you, Steve, but how I wish you’d never said that!

This one statement is too often used as proof that the customer knows nothing. They don’t know what they want, so why bother asking them?
It reinforces that Us vs. Them mentality: it’s Us, the hard working wedding vendors feeding our businesses with our sweat and the very blood from our veins, struggling to get Them, those clueless brides and grooms, to “get” why they need us.

When the couples don’t buy, when they choose over our competitors instead of us, it’s not our fault. They just don’t know what they want because they don’t have the sense to listen to us.

How his words have been twisted! Just today I came across a new product for the wedding industry. Sure, it’s cool, it could be useful, but is it filling a need in the market? NO. And it sure isn’t innovative enough to create a need where one doesn’t exist. It’s obvious that this company did not ask its customers what they wanted.

And because of this, the business is doomed to fail.

Steve Jobs Mis-quoted

Steve Jobs wasn’t telling us not to give our customers what they want. He wasn’t telling us not to ask them what they want and need.

He was explaining that our customers don’t know the features they want in a product or service until they’ve seen it. They simply don’t have the knowledge and experience to know what will solve their problem. For a company like Apple, if they’d waited until their customers figured it out, they’d never be able to outpace the competition.

Ever notice how when you ask a bride or groom what they want in a DJ, a florist, a photographer, a planner, most of the time they don’t know?

Steve Jobs was right; your customers don’t know what features they want. There’s no use asking them if they prefer Package A or Package B, Price 1 or Price 2, Shiny Object X or Shiny Object Y. They don’t have a clue.

But there is one thing your customers DO know, and you need to understand it intimately to make sure that your wedding business is giving them exactly what they want makes them open their wallets…

Your customer knows her pain. She knows her underlying need. She knows that burning emotional WANT deep inside.

For brides, it isn’t our photography, our music or our flowers that she wants. That’s why she can’t tell you which features she’s interested in.

What does she want? She wants to feel special. She wants an unforgettable wedding day. She wants her guests to talk about how awesome it was for years to come.

Start With the Customer

Steve Jobs also said this:

“You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Steve Jobs was intimately connected to his customers. He’d climbed inside their heads. He knew what they really wanted underneath it all.

Jobs wasn’t just coming up with brilliant products and then brainwashing his clueless customers into buying them. He knew his customer well enough to create products that made an immediate connection.

Everything was always about the customer. The focus of design is the customer interface. An intimate understanding of the customer is what inspires Apple’s legendary customer service experience.

Too many wedding entrepreneurs hear quotes warning against heeding the opinion of “fickle customers” and use that as an excuse to stop listening. It’s the biggest mistake you could possibly make.

The best way to create a wedding business that is irresistibly attractive to brides and grooms is to understand exactly what they REALLY want and to communicate it better than they can.

Jobs was right; your customers can’t tell you what they really want in your product or service. But you can figure it out. And when you do, that knowledge will make you unstoppable.

What do you think about asking your customers what they want?

Photo Credit cropped