Knowing what your customers want is a very important part of your marketing effort. Research, surveys, a lot of software development, and thousands of hours go into this complex endeavor of finding out what your customers want or need, what problems they have, where they might need help. A lot of times, this is based on what customers say – reviews, feedback forms, surveys etc.

The problem with what customers say is that sometimes what they really want is very different. The questions asked might be misleading, or they might just say what they think would make them look better.

Let’s take an example: romance books, and particularly gay romance books. If you talk to readers, they’ll tell you they are tired of seeing naked torsos on their covers. All the covers end up looking the same. They’ll tell you they want different, interesting covers, that do more to convey the message or atmosphere of the book. 

Fair enough! But is that what they really want? Are those who want more creative covers the minority? Or rather than being a minority, they say something that makes them look better? It’s probably a combination of a minority opinion with the fact that, for a good book, they can ignore a generic cover. Plus there’s also a horde or readers who like the sexy bit of male upper body.

Why do I say that? Despite all the complaining people do about how the covers look like each other, despite their requests to see something new, here are the top 12 Amazon best sellers of today in the gay romance section:

Amazon top 12 gay romance

Can you spot all the naked torsos? 😀

The solution to this problem is to make sure you compare what readers say to their actions. A lot of times, the truth will be revealed. Are they really interested in what they say they want? Is the segment you’re talking to a significant one of your target market? Do they still buy what they don’t like because they have no real alternatives? Whatever you do, think like a journalist: you need more sources, not just one–in your case your customers stating what they want from you.

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