As a small businessman with a limited (!) advertising budget, I found this article in Business Week quite helpful. I had already discovered #6:
You like it. O.K., this one may sting a bit, but you are not the best judge of your own advertising.
I would note that it’s an easier problem to recognize (in a general way) than it is to fix (necessarily in a much more specific way).
I have found that both in computer services and in publishing, the customer looks at the problem in a very different way than I do.
In computer services, I tend to think of a list of technical qualifications, certifications, what hardware I can manage, while my customers want to accomplish tasks. This is easy to recognize in one or two conversations. What’s harder to do is to learn how my customers do business so that I can hear their needs as they express them. That’s requires constant effort. I initially hesitated to get into providing small network management services because I lacked the certifications. It turned out that my initial customers didn’t care, and when they saw that I kept their networks up and running and responded promptly to calls, they recommended me to others. Had I stuck with my own perceptions, I would have failed before I started.
In publishing, I tend to look at a book in terms of the information it contains and how well I, personally, can access it. Telling people that a book has lots of information in it often doesn’t work so well. This is one I’m still working on. I have been going over my company’s older materials and finding that very often I haven’t written from the customer’s point of view. As I change the wording, sales of a book seem to climb.
I’m no expert here. Read the whole Business Week article for an expert take on the issue.