Business is not about persuasion, it’s about provision.

brown donut on white table

“It’s easier to make products and services for the customers you seek to serve than it is to find customers for your products and services.” Words of wisdom from the book This Is Marketing by Seth Godin.

This is all about being curious and listening. If we don’t know our customers, we cannot serve them. And we cannot know them sitting in an ivory tower reading survey results on a spreadsheet. Numbers lack whimsy and nuance. People, on the other hand, are all about whimsy and nuance.

To create solutions, to make things and develop services that benefit people—that’s what businesses are supposed to do by the way—requires asking those people what their problems are and what they want to do and listening hard to their responses. Business needs to be a giving game not a getting one. To paraphrase Zig Ziglar, you get what you need only when you give others what they need.

Too many though, try to persuade people to buy things they want them to have instead of providing things that solve problems, help them do what they want to do, and make their lives better.

While data may say people are trying to be healthier and that kale juice is super healthy, it would most likely not be a great seller for people walking across a park on a hot day. To move product, you’d have to sell them on the benefits of health, etc. In other words, persuasion. However, if you just listened, you would probably hear, “We want to cool off.” Then you’d set about making lemonade. No persuasion, instead, provision, service.

Be curious. Listen. Help people. That’s service. That’s business—or at least what business should be.

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