C'mon, do you REALLY care about "the customer?"
Is your ambition in this work-from-home nightmare, errr, dream, really on par with Mother Theresa, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, or are you really only concerned with papering your bank's walls with the green and white portraits of a few million dead presidents?
I just got finished SKIMMING (full disclosure!), Matt Bailey's, "Content v Creative - Where does the Customer Count? and I couldn't help but become even more glaringly aware at how differently the "work-at-home" subculture in which I've grown up is from the crowd to whom he's talking. But that's where *I* come in because his article, while making some very salient points, does not make any such distinctions. And that can confuse people and, in my experience, often does.
It is more academic than folksy; analytical rather than emotional; competitive rather than creative.
Matt quotes Charles Prescott, the VP of Global Education for the Direct Marketing Association, "...the most critical part of a direct mail/marketing campaign was the selection and refinement of a list." I think that's very important, too, but it's almost so obvious that I would expect to see it in ANY basic marketing manual.
What isn't mentioned is how many in our work-from-home subculture have been conditioned to learn things. Except for a die-hard focus on article marketing, we were brought up believing in the miracle of NICHE SITES that were powered by very powerful SALES FUNNELS which then incentivized customers AND NON-CUSTOMERS ALIKE to "spread the word" for a 50%+ take of any referral sales. And so on... and so on...
So Let Me Ask You Again...
Do You Really CARE About the Customer?
When you stop and think about it, our SALES FUNNEL processes don't even CARE about targeting only "the right customers" because if our persuasion-laced incentives are strong enough, we'll make good and sure to remind every site visitor that they're surrounded by all kinds of potential commissions - whether it be friends on their email list, or myspace, or their Web 2.0 site on which they can put our link.
This is our realm! It isn't academic. We start off with a narrow patch of land and then push forward, building outposts, making new friends, getting them excited not only by our product or content, but by their ability to live more fully by promoting it. We take some of our earnings and use it to start outsourcing projects to experts that can do in hours and days what it would usually take us weeks and months, and our influence grows.
We Let the AFFILIATES Find the Targeted Audiences.
So My Suggestion to You Is...
Care about the customer to the extent that you see him or her as yourself - a POTENTIAL AFFILIATE who wants a quality EXPERIENCE with as little trouble as possible. But let's not confuse our reliance on customers as some kind of brotherly love unless we specifically set out with that mission. Focus on the affiliate. Treat the affiliate right and they will kindness the favor "tenfold."
In fact, some marketers even offer affiliates 100% commission.... for a small fee, of course. ;-)