It never ceases to amaze me when I ask business leaders who their customer is, inevitably, I find that they really don’t have a clue. (This goes for both B2B and B2C by the way.)
I have challenged many business leaders to tell me who their best customers are. I make a deal with them that if I can’t tell them something about their customer that they didn’t know; they don’t have to pay me for the work. I have always been paid ;)
What I find most common, especially with entrepreneurs and start ups, is that the business leader had an idea of who s/he would sell the businesses products/services to. This idea stuck in their head and it is often who they believe they are truly selling to now.
Once I am engaged, I inventory their belief about who their customer is and then I look at data and some appends and I am able to profile their customer to a geo, psycho and behavioral level that usually enlightens not only the business leader, but the entire executive team. Once the “best customer” is identified, I often provide an analysis that shows the other ‘good’ customer groups and provides the business with the most effective ways to acquire, keep and get more from their targets.
Once armed with facts about their customers and what motivates them, the business leader is well equipped to out play the competition in defining a strategy that works and drops serious results to the bottom line.
One example I can give you is a graphic artists’ shop that was keeping up on technology advances but was not on the cutting edge of advances. When I did a profile of their customers and reviewed the landscape of the customers in their area, we identified a target market and the best way to interact with them. In this case, the best way to interact was a very “old fashioned” approach, the local Chamber of Commerce. As it turns out many years later, this company is thriving and healthy (and even turning down work) as they are a good fit for the businesses that join the Chamber. The plan we designed several years ago is still effective today and the company has gained top rate status in their Chamber and as a result, they get a lot of business.
Stories like the one above are not just a win for the client; they are a win-win for all. I truly look at the seller-buyer relationship as a matchmaker’s job. I help businesses identify who wants their products/services and then I help them to design a strategy that gets them to the buyers’ who need and want them. It is really satisfying work. One of the most fun parts of doing what I do is surprising the client with who their customers really are. Many are skeptical at first, but after proper testing and well designed campaigns, nothing speaks louder than success.
It isn’t a one size fits all world out there. I shudder at businesses blindly putting all of their eggs in an online presence or email marketing or direct mail without knowing what and how their customer really looks for and is attracted to goods and services.
Its 3:00 pm PDT, do you know who your customers are and what the most cost effective way to acquire their businesses is?
If not, I’d love to help you find out.
Mary Mussard Woods