You Are Not Your Customer

by Jeremy Schoemaker on April 13, 2009 · 56 comments

How serious do you take a lot of these “marketing guru’s” advice? If they tell you to do something do you blindly do it? That could be a fatal mistake. A lot of “marketing guru’s” have made money by telling people what to do (especially on the internet) and zero experience actually doing it. I was talking with Brian Clark about his the other day about how people sit in their ivory towers and judge others when they have never been there themselves… anyway off track…

While I have quite a track record for building successful businesses, the last thing I want someone to do is read something that I wrote worked for me or take what I said in a email to them and blindly implement it in their site.

You know who knows exactly what your website needs? Its not me, Its not any online marketing guru… Its your customers.

Hell, odds are your un-savvy computer parents know exactly what your website needs. They are much your customer then you, or any “marketing guru”.

So how do you tap into this information. Invite them over and have them use your site. Watch where they are clicking. Ask them to tell you if they get stuck on the site.

The flow should be smooth and if its not then you need to look into that.

BUT again testing is key. What I do is take the guru’s advice with the layman and do some a/b split testing with Google Website Optimizer.

You may find your customers advice is worth 10x then a guru’s. But that’s just my experience.

full disclosure

About the author...

– who has written 2895 posts on

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of the ShoeMoney Blog, Elite Retreat Internet Conference, & the PAR Program. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 Amazon Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. Jeremy currently lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife and 2 daughters.

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1 Mr. School Fundraising Ideas

You are right you can have this million dollar site that you had a million dollar guru work on but unless the customer likes it, keeps coming back, and recommend it to others then you are S.O.L.

2 Steven-Sanders

I was the senior web developer & graphics designer for the previous company I worked for, and through-out the whole development of our product (both web & mobile) we would constantly have end users test the system.

We were building something for farmers, and we would have farmers test it that weren’t computer literate at all. When they could easily navigate the product, we knew it was where it needed to be and that it was going in the right direction.

3 Marketophile

I absolutely think that people pay too much money to be guided by a so called expert.

The people that are out there doing it and doing it well aren’t usually folks that dropped a ton of cash to have someone teach them how to do it.
The successful folks are usually the ones that had enough drive to find the information at a cheap price (usually free) and then they immersed themselves in it.

Once you build up a base of knowledge, it a game of testing the ideas for your specific needs….and then testing again.

Paying an expert that did something amazing in a different situation/location is usually going to pan out.

The information is out there guys….don’t be lazy….go find it!
Once you’re a success you can charge other people for your consulting services :)

4 Marketophile

Typing is awful today…. I meant to say…”isn’t usually going to pan out”

I say don’t be lazy and then I get lazy with my typing….lol

5 Tina Mammoser

So true. The best feedback I get when I design other sites is the “how do I …?” comment from a client who isn’t web-savvy. Proof that however clever the design might seem to me, it doesn’t work. Usability has to be #1.

6 @steveplunkett

Been making mistakes in web stuff since 1994, one of those we don’t make anymore is targeting keywords without having in-bound call logs of what people ask for for 2 weeks.

7 Dave

If you’ve never experienced the guru worship, check out the warrior forum. the gurus have led people to believe that
a) they need to learn (from them) to earn
b) that products need to be obscenly priced because they are limited.
c) That even if you don’t buy, you should stay subscribed to see their ‘marketing lessons” (email spam)
d) They are big fans of starting emails like “This guy’s the real deal. Even if you don’t buy, check out this free stuff”
e) Don’t cross them because you lose the chance of a JV with them. bwahha.

It would be funny if so many poeple didn’t go broke spending money on their stuff.

8 diabetic

Yes , I am agree….think what your visitor needed ….what visitor want…… good question for starting to build networking and business

9 Windows 7

Thanks, very interesting read, you should be commended on your website,
can see that you have put some effort into it, to many dud sites around these days.

Kind Regards

10 BeingAsha

All these so called marketing gurus,their lessons and hot deals, all looks so similar :)

I totally agree that you are your website’s guru and you should know what works best for you,provided you spend some time analyzing your stats and traffic sources and other optimization techniques.

11 Affiliate Failure

People are quick to forget about customers in favor of the latest marketing trends or webinar results. You are 100% right in that the customer should control every decision you make. Testing new ideas is a good, but use data to make the final decision. User experience is the only thing that really matters!

12 ZK@Internet Marketing Blog

Hey Jeremy …

Now you are targeting Guru’s as well. But however I do know few people who do such kind of thing by your self and than start writing about them or tell people to use them.

13 Mitja

Nice point here Shoe I agree with you.

14 InternetStarter

I agree with the post, one of the things often over looked is – what are your users searching for on your site? Taking a look at what keywords they use on your site’s search lets you know what people are looking for or can’t find on your site. You might have to adjust your site or place what users are looking for in a more prominent area on the website.

15 Jim

This post seems rushed…actually the last few posts seem rushed. How about you mix in a spell check or grammurrrrrr check? Just a thought.

16 Jonathan Volk

Great post. It’s true that the customer will be able to tell you better than anyone.

17 Make Money Online

I agree totally. Most marketers dont put themself in the shoe :p

18 Pheak Tol

majority of the time, a guru’s advice is basically what they’ve learned themselves pertaining to their own site.

like shoe said in the last sentence or two, take ur site and test it – advice is advice but it’s better if you experience it on your own

just my 2 cents

19 BrandC

I’ve seen sites that definitely dont keep the customer in mind, and it appears they may even add fake RSS subscribers to look like people are reading. Such scammers!

20 Millionaire Acts

I agree. Customers are lifeblood of any business. They give profits and so they should always be considered.

21 Make Money From Home

Exactly!!!! Customers knows what’s your website needs. They are your primary audience, marketing guru’s advices and opinions would be next to your customer’s ideas

22 Captain Internet

Captain Internet swooshes in and says

Awesome advice Shoe. I have to agree that the A B testing is the best thing a person can do.

One thing everyone needs to keep in mind though. If you want to make money on any site its best if the background color is pink. LOL

Captain Internet

23 School Grants

You are so right about this. If you don’t know what your customer needs or wants just ask them. A simple link to an email submission form should do the trick.

24 Shoemoney Reviews

It’s true what you wrote, but knowing how much you make it’s hard not to have die-hard followers. I wrote about your web practices/money techniques just yesterday…

25 Ricardo

That’s some advice you don’t hear from the SEO’s gurus, however, it is really simple and you could get some first hand data from your own customers.

26 Dean Saliba

I do not listen to these ‘gurus’. It seems that anyone and everyone can call themselves a ‘guru’ these days without actually having to know anhting about their chosen niche.

27 Eric Clickbooth

As a business, nothing is more important than listening to your community/customers. These are the people using your product/service and are the ones who know exactly what your business needs…not the “gurus”.

With all of the great Social Media tools out there, businesses now have so many ways to connect, engage, and get more feedback from their customers than ever before. They just have to go out there and start LISTENING.

The businesses that do this are the ones that will start seeing more customers and bigger results. The ones that choose to ignore their customers feedback (and base their products/service on “their own” needs) will soon find themselves out of business :-(

28 Bd

This is the best thing I have read in ages, thank you Jeremy!
We have just launched our own online marketing business and website conversions is one thing I love researching to see what you can do to ramp up conversions.

29 Monkey Boy

Man all of this marketing crap on the web is a bunch of horse shit. All of it… affiliate marketing, PPC, social media, adsense and especially SEO.

100% pure HORSE shit.

Everyone should wake up and smell the coffee… we all talk about how insane the media is and how the media treats everyone like idiots. It’s no different with marketing. If you don’t make something cool it likely won’t sell.

But then again, there are a lot of stupid people out there so maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe just focus on marketing to the retards of the world?

30 Jeremy Schoemaker

monkeys always have a rough go of it =(

31 brandon @ malaysia florist

normally i wont simply follow what marketing guru say, i got my own opinion..

32 Sexy Stars

Completely agree..

Online specialist can only show the track but driving successful is in customers guide.

33 Rick Kats

Definitely agree on the advice. I mean guru’s are there to learn from, although you can’t just copy someone else receipt of success and expect it to work for you as well, I guess it all comes down to trail and error, and of course never to stop trying.

34 Paul B

Most gurus want to sell the idea of the magic bullet, something that can turn anything online into a money maker. It doesn’t exist.

For example one of the programs I sell took a downturn recently. Straight away I had a payment partner e-mailing me suggesting I try this and that (new layouts, new graphics, new text etc etc etc). Turns out it wasn’t selling because it was no longer needed!

It’s not the marketing bullshit that sells , it’s how useful and needed a product or service is that will make it a success. One thing no guru will do is improve your product or service.

35 Tyrone – Internet Business Path

I have to agree with your post. Although I do find gurus amazing when it comes to advices like that, the fact that your customers and subscribers are the ones using your site always remain. These people are the ones you can always ask for feedback or suggestions on how to improve your site. I partly believe in the phrases: ‘the customer is always right’ but not always, of course there is an exception to the rule. In the end if you want more traffic and customers, assess their needs and make your site user friendly.

36 Blog Tips For Beginners

I agree, but at the same time if you are trying to get more traffic, the customers you have only found you through the traffic generating techniques you are currently implementing, so how can they give you ideas to get more traffic? I have found that by doing more research and asking the ‘gurus’ who have done it before you can learn a bunch of things your current customers can never tell you. So in my opinion you need to listen to both.

37 Jack Stevinson

Really good advice. I am fed up with the Guru’s over hyped tosh. It is a shame because it taints the really good stuff that is available from marketers who are not just lining their own pockets during these difficult economic times.

So many people simply want to earn a living marketing on-line without having to put up with all the time wasting nonsense pumped out by the self styled Guru’s.

Sorry I’m starting to sound like a forum moaner which I a definitely not.

Like most of us I guess I have bought some really good stuff from really good mentors. Its the junk autopilot junk and forced continuity programs I object to.

38 Therapist off

Gurus irritate….each one thinks they have what I need and spam me all to tell me I am going to miss their deal of a life time. I never buy, without doing my homework, usually based on feedback from those who have “drove the car”. I am all for risk…but proper risk has the element of intel…which minimizes loss….Sorry gurus…if you know my customers then teach me something….. if not, stay out of my inbox.

39 Loud Mom

My husband is good for this a lot of times because he is awful at navigating websites. I don’t understand why because he is good at fixing computers and that type of thing…but it seriously took him 30 minutes to sign up for a forum the one day! Setting up adwords for his business? 6 hours!

40 Smart Boy Designs

This post brings up some interesting thoughts. It’s important to understand the credentials of the people you’re taking advice from.


As far as the guru’s go I always keep this saying in the back of my mind…..

“Those that can, do – Those that can’t, teach”.

Always look at what the person giving the advice has accomplished themselves.


42 Paul @ HollywoodDJ

hey, unfortunately everyone follows the guy in the mercedes and not the bum pushing a cart down an alley. however, if you look closely, sometimes the bum is the former ceo that’s knows more about what’s coming than the guy in the mercedes…

moral of story: watch your own a**!

43 School Grants @ Sg

lolz well said every one 1 is trying to hang on benz lolzzzzzzz.

44 Authority Networker

Many people buy into the crappy downline secrets of IM gurus and not much attention is paid to the quality of the product that is being sold. You must be able to identify the needs and frustrations that your potential clients face. Then you should develop an attractive and personal business identity. This is the concept behind attraction marketing, a new network marketing online system where you develop ongoing relationships with clients and become a person of value by educating your buyers first and then moving them along the buying path in your communications. Making yourself an indispensable source of information can establish your identity as an authority networker, attract an endless flow of fresh MLM leads and MLM signups and build your downline fast.


Unfortunately it’s not unusual for me to get in my own way by adding a bunch of cool bells and whistles to a site that absolutely does not need them.

I tried my best to keep as clean and simple as can be and it has turned out to have the highest quality traffic of all the sites in my entire network. (250+ sites)


46 Michael Zhao

Damn! I think I messed up…I need to break out the blueprint and start all over!

47 Mark Fuller

Excellent article Jeremy.

48 Austin SEO

Awesome post Jeremy. The customer are definitely not you.

49 make hot coffee at home

Amazing! Its in fact amazing article, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from this article.

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