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When was the Last Time You Visited a Customer?

I mean in person. Like--sat next to, found out their name, how old their kids where, where they went on vacation this summer?

When was the last time you watched someone actually use your product? Not talk to you about what they like and don't like, but where you saw the order they pushed buttons, which screens they accessed or colors they chose?

Do you know why they keep going back to the home page instead of using that nifty tab you had the product team build for you? Is there a reason they don't use the new feature the way it was designed? Do you know or do you think you know? And why is that fancy welcome kit you mailed them still unboxed over there in the corner?

Do they know what the acronym "ROI" actually is? Do they even think of what they do as generating a return on investment? Do they know--or better yet--do they actually care about how you and your team positioned the product to them? Are they aware of the benefit statements you toiled over for days to get just right?

Sorry, what did you say you were using these for?

What role does your product actually play among all the other products they use? How many people in the company actually use it? Are they able to handle an upgrade or the new and improved version every quarter? And why are they using this one feature in a way your product team never envisioned?

These questions, and hundreds of others, are waiting to be answered. As marketers in today's environment we're tasked with sifting through fields of data to find the proverbial needle in the haystack that will deliver an insight to win the day for us. But most times there is no needle, just a ton of hay. And it's in doing the work in the field, visiting the customer, walking a mile in their shoes, that we'll actually glean the insights as to how to do our jobs better.

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