Who Is Your Customer?

Before answering this question, let’s take a look at a typical (yet highly simplified) supply chain:

From the perspective of the manufacturer, who are the customers in this diagram?  Many people go for the obvious answer:  the end users.  Indeed, down the line, they are customers that need to be served and satisfied.  Don’t forget, however, the manufacturer also has more immediate customers: the retailers.  They, after all, are buying products directly from the manufacturer to be resold to customers.

So, why the mini business lesson?  As a presenter, think about your work as a product.  Who are your customers?  The obvious answer for most of you will be “my audience.”  Take a moment, however, to check and see if there might be any other customers in your personal supply chain.  Depending on the kind of organization you work for, you may have bosses, managers, or salespeople masquerading as customers.

In my organization, my lessons and seminars (products) have two distinct sets of customers.  My work must obviously satisfy my audience, whom I serve directly.  Additionally, the quality and content of my presentations must also satisfy salespeople who find audiences for me and dispatch me to their locations (often observing me as I deliver the finished product).  Therefore, I like to visualize my personal supply chain like this:

Fortunately, my two primary audiences have a lot of overlap:  Japanese business people who need to use business English for their work.  Usually there is little conflict between the two groups.

How about you?  What does your personal supply chain look like?  Perhaps you have two or three audiences that have different needs?  Are there any conflicts in your supply chain?  Identifying your customers is the first step to making sure that you are providing them with the content that they truly want and need.  Perhaps, it will even save you from making mistakes like this.

6 thoughts on “Who Is Your Customer?

    • Hi Katie,

      Thanks for your input! You bring up a good point. There are occasions when members within one of my audiences have diverging interests. Luckily, when that happens, I can usually find it least one or two common threads to focus on (even if everyone isn’t exactly looking for the same thing) by chatting with them before a presentation.

      And of course, there are times when I just can’t fully please all of my audiences (or everyone in one of them). Just like that famous expression, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time…”


      P.S. Nice blog!

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