Why My Son Wants to be Tall (and the Danger of Assumptions in marketing)

My 8-year old son recently developed an obsession with being tall.

"Mommy, look, I'm almost as high as your shoulders. I can't wait until I'm really tall."

"Mommy, I think I'm going to be even taller than Totty (Daddy)."

I was starting to get a little worried. Why this obsession with being tall?

I'm short (like, under 5 feet short) and my husband is not very tall either. The odds of him growing to be 6 feet are quite low.

And besides, I don't want him to be so focused on his externals.

I kept telling him, "There are so many special and even famous people who were really short, like the great sage the Chafetz Chaim." But nothing swayed him. He said, "I still want to be tall."

Finally, I asked him, "Why? Why do you so badly want to be tall?"

He answered, "I want to be able to help Bubby (grandma) take things down from high shelves, just like Uncle David does."

I was floored.

Here I was, assuming that HIS desire to be tall stemmed from the same value I placed on height - a physical value, a desire to be the biggest in the room.

But in reality, he wanted something completely different.

Businesses make this same mistake ALL THE TIME.

They assume they know why customers like them. That they understand why a certain product or service is popular.

Then they create marketing materials based on these assumptions. And when the marketing falls utterly flat, they’re left scratching their heads in confusion.

But the reason for these failures is very simple - businesses forget the one most important thing that must come before creating any marketing materials:

Voice of Customer research!

Never make assumptions about your customers.

Toss all preconceived notions.Then go out there and see what your customers are actually saying!

You may discover surprising things. They might care about things you really don’t care about. That’s why it’s super important to keep an open mind and listen to what they’re saying, not what you thought was true.


How do you find out what your customers are saying?

In this day and age, it’s easier than ever. Simply hop onto the online forums where they hang out. This includes:

  • Blogs

  • Facebook groups

  • Instagram - check relevant hashtags

  • Product reviews

  • Quora

  • Successful websites with the same target audience

  • Customer service chat logs/call records

Organize your findings as follows:

  • Create an Excel sheet with 4 columns

    • Words

    • Phrases

    • What people want

    • What people are mad about

  • Highlight the words and phrases that stand out most

Sample Voice of Customer research

Sample Voice of Customer research

Now take a look at everything you recorded. What surprising information did you find? Were you correct in your assumptions about your customers?

If you weren’t - go back to the off-target marketing collateral and revise it to speak to your audience’s real passions and concerns.

Don’t have the time to comb through hundreds of reviews? Brand Voice Guides are one of my specialties. Reach out here to get a customized, step-by-step guide on how to talk so you resonate with your customers.

Chavy Helfgott