Know your customer!

This is something we hear all the time, but in most cases we don’t define what this really means or how to effectively do it. In this episode, we dive deep into how to conduct customer research, with Ryan Paul Gibson of Content Lift, and talk about how asking the right people the right questions can have a major revenue impact for your business.

We will talk about what mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets needed to conduct effective customer research, to drive results. This episode is literally a masterclass in customer research, so if you want to learn how to gain insights from talking to customers, don’t miss a minute of this awesome conversation.


  • [2:00 – 6:00] Be inquisitive, like a reporter – Ask yourself “what are some of your assumptions that might be wrong?”
  • [8:43 – 12:30] Find the root cause, don’t just treat the symptom.
  • [12:40 – 14:00] Be self-aware – you are probably at least partially the cause of the issue which you are trying to research.


  • [14:30 – 16:30] Ask one question at a time – no compound questions.
  • [18:40 – 24:30] Have a hypothesis to test (e.g. are we talking to the wrong people?) and use that to drive organic discovery.
  • [30:00 – 37:00] Active listening – do your prep and slow your speech down to force your brain to slow down and actually listen.
  • [38:08 – ] Codifying subjective language – find themes and trends in the responses to your questions

Toolsets [42:44 – 49:40]:

  • Transcription – Reduct Video or
  • Scheduler
  • Video recording – Zoom – record everything because you won’t remember
  • Google Docs


Through all this work, Ryan’s client Rewind was able to double installs.

Proofpoint’s POV:

We at Proofpoint are all about customer research. It is at the very core of our entire process, and is one of the first things we do upon engaging with a client. The goal is to understand what job your customers are trying to do – what their success milestones are, what their pain points are, what their emotional needs are, what their decision making process is like, and what their research process is like.

What’s important first though, is to understand who you should be talking to. We recommend first identifying your best customers and your worst customers via firmographic data in your CRM. This allows you to build your hypothesis, as Ryan recommends, and then better understand what you do well, what you don’t do well, and what you can do about it.

As we talked about with Ryan, personas tend to get a bar rap, but this is because most personas stop at basic demographic and firmographic information. What we advise is to build your personas not just around the information in your CRM, but combine that with first-person customer research.

A bit more about Ryan:
Ryan is a former field researcher and reporter, turned customer research whiz. He hails from Ottawa, Canada, which means yes, he has that awesome Canadian accent, eh! 😁

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