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4 insights for marketers: treat different people differently and think beyond customer personas

Are you startup or a veteran business? Or just an idea on wheels? No matter who you are, just forget about your Average Customers. Because they don’t exist. Because the gamble with Customer Personas is over. Period.

4 insights for marketers: treat different people differently and think beyond customer personas

Monday March 05, 2018,

4 min Read

Find as many differences in the picture below, before you enter


The Adjustable Seat

Something remarkable happened in 1940s. (Disclosure: this story is not exactly about your customer, but hang on.) The US air force had a serious problem. Many of their pilots were dying because they weren’t able to control their planes at some point on air.

Nobody knew the reason.

Neither the pilot nor the airplane’s mechanics were causing the problem. So, the air force made an investigation. They hired Lt. Gilbert S. Daniels, a Harvard university scientist to do it.

He found that the cockpit of the airplanes wasn’t redesigned for over 30 years. Since the 1920s, he observed, the physical dimensions of the average pilot was increased. So, his aim was to completely redesign the cockpit!


As the air force expected, Daniels took the measurements of 10 physical dimensions of 4,063 US air force pilots. He had averaged all the measurements and built the cockpit design: but surprisingly, none of the pilots didn’t fit in that cockpit!

Then, Daniels had to come up with an Adjustable Seat for the cockpit. That’s a different story altogether.

The moral is: Expecting every pilot to fit in one seat doesn’t work. The seat should accommodate the pilot.

In other words, for businesses,

We should not expect customers to come under a customer persona category. Rather, we need an Adjustable Customer Persona to accommodate each individual.

Each individual. Yes, you heard it right.


Let’s make it clear first: you have a business, you sell a product or service, you want to create value and make money. Anything other than this is either an NGO, a hobby or something else.

Now, if you’re a business, you’ve customers and other audiences whom you should treat like they’re the policy-makers of your venture.

If you treat them any other way, you better watch out.

So, here I present you 4 deep insights on how to (and how NOT to) treat your customer:


#1 Never interfere with the uniqueness of your customer


Once someone gets into your network of influence, don’t chase them all over the web. Don’t show them the pointless ads they don’t want to see. Spam won’t work, because people are becoming aware of the spam stuff. The magic wand is with them, not you!

Instead, use all the clues to learn what they want and what they consider important to them. Personalization is supposed to be doing this, as some of the most customer-centric businesses have been setting us examples.

#2 Go beyond demographics and census data


Sometimes, mere physical measurements aren’t sufficient to make a significant impact.

Demographics and census data may help businesses find a way to narrow down the customer base. However, it’s not enough. A customer’s world changes constantly and gets influenced by a lot many metrics than we think are sufficient.

Our opportunity to go beyond demographics and census data, as Seth Godin points it out, is one of the biggest unfilled promises of the digital era.

Find a way.

#3 Don't reserve special treatments for only a few, though


Suppose one customer gets only a few hundred rupees into your bank account, whereas another spends few lakh rupees. Would you serve them differently? I mean, would your way of serving them, your treatment, vary?

If yes, just think out this: what would happen to your business if you reserve special treatment to everyone?

I’m not saying that you give same special treatment to everyone. I’m not asking you to give them the same things. I’m saying: what would happen if you reserve SPECIAL TREATMENT (the ‘special’ designed for each customer separately)?

Don't reserve ‘special treatment’ only for a few elite customers. Rather, reserve it for every single one of your customers in their own way.


#4 Within your customer base, create something for everyone


It’s not like creating something for everyone and lack specialty.

It’s like creating something for everyone within a speciality.

In case, if all your customers see the same email, you have trouble. If you want all your customers get the same service, you have trouble. If you give them the same thing to read, you have trouble.

Not the same shoes fit everyone, as Seth Godin remarks. Your business’s urgency don’t matter. Yet, your customer’s slightest difference matters.

In the world where everyone has a choice, the businesses have no choice but to serve different people differently. When a business can’t make it happen, it misses the opportunity. Plain and simple.

One way to achieve treating different people differently is to use emerging technologies. Big Data and Analytics, for example, can empower businesses to turn the tide. A blend of such technologies with a big of seeing the customer, this can be made possible.

As Seth Godin calls it, let’s tell our each customer, sincerely and with a big heart that cares for them: