Understanding Your Customer

Without paying customers, a business is not viable. Paying customers are the keystone understanding your customertowards sustainability. Whether for-profit or nonprofit, customers and/or donors generating cash-flow are essential.

Learning Outcome:

  • In this process, students gain market feedback from potential customers and
    learn more about their targeted persona.

Who is your customer? With over seven billion people on our planet, patterns between groups of people emerge. These patterns in personality and habits are referred to as a persona. A persona is an aspect of character that others perceive.

How to Play:

Following the ideation process (coming up with an entrepreneurial concept), students identify ten people they believe represent their customer persona/s.

Students then interview these ten people, regarding the product or service they are seeking to establish.

Questions might include:

  • Would you spend money for this product, service or experience?
  • If you would spend money, how much would you spend?
  • If you wouldn’t, why not?
  • What do you like about the product/service/experience?
  • Is there anything about it that you would change?
  • Is this something you would share with your friends?
  • How often do you spend money on entertainment or culture?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What do you do for a living?

and other relevant questions.


Students should be mindful to not guide the interviewee or to sway their opinion. The interviewer’s goal is to gain insight into the potential success of their product/service or experience they plan to offer. Students should seek to identify patterns in the feedback they receive and make changes to their concepts where appropriate.

For the teacher: Following this student interview process, an entire class can be used to discuss the students’ findings.

This exercise was inspired by Bill Aulet’s “Disciplined Entrepreneurship.”

If you would like to use these games in your own classroom, please do! If you do, let me know how how it goes and if you have suggestions for modifying a game. 

I can be reached at jdhart@smu.edu

Creative Commons License
Understanding Your Customer by James David Hart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


About James Hart

Jim Hart currently serves as Interim Chair of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship & Director of Arts Entrepreneurship at Southern Methodist University, Meadows School of the Arts. Hart is also the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway.
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