I’m in Japan doing some consulting work. The place I am in is called Hitoyoshi. I lived here for a couple of years almost 30 years ago and it’s really nice to be back. Lots has changed in 30 years but the people are still wonderful.

Before coming I checked the weather forecast and saw that the temperatures would be between 7 and 17 degrees Celsius. No problem, I thought. I packed for fall temperatures and off I went.

A friend of mine graciously offered to  put me up while I’m here and I gladly accepted. Upon arriving at his home I was suddenly reminded of a very important detail. The majority of Japanese homes don’t have central heating. I had packed for outside fall temperatures, but not for fall temperatures INSIDE.

Most Japanese homes are heated room by room. If a room isn’t being used, it isn’t heated. That includes bedrooms, washrooms, and even the shower/bath room. I think this explains why heated toilet seats are so prevalent in Japan. Those are kept turned on 24/7 and are probably the only consistently warm item in a Japanese home in fall and winter.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I knew from my time living here that houses aren’t heated centrally. There wasn’t anything keeping me from being prepared except for my oversight. Because of my western perspective, I assumed a Japanese home would be as warm as a Canadian home. That perspective blinded me to the reality of living in Japan.

Do you have perspectives that blind you to the realities your customers face? What kind of problems do they have that you’re not offering a solution to? What are the day-to-day issues your product or service can solve for your customers? Is your competition seeing something you’re not? These are all questions I think can be vitally important to the success of your business.

Being able to see the world through your customer’s eyes can be a huge competitive advantage. It can help you develop new products and services that can meet their needs better than your competition. Knowing your customers’ realities can help you market to them more effectively because they know you “get” them. When you’re aligned with your customers’ needs, you have a better chance of becoming their supplier of choice.

Having a curious mind and knowing your market is a competitive advantage. It also opens up lots of opportunities for your online marketing efforts. Stay curious and keep an open mind.

Warmest wishes from Japan 🙂