Monday, May 21, 2012

Who are you?

Third in a series...

In 1978, The Who asked the musical question, "Who are You?" While the song and album were an exploration of conflicting progressive and punk rock attitudes, nearly 35 years later their query could be the anthem for current sales and marketing angst.

Gathering meaningful information on customers is one of the most important tasks for small businesses.  It is also one of the most difficult, and therefore, among the most neglected by small business owners. 

At its most basic level, any operating business has two target audiences:  current customers and potential customers.  Most proprietors I meet and/or work with operate under a "build it and they will come" approach of one form or another.  And for most, it works well in getting a business through its formative stages:  establishing a customer base and following, and building a revenue stream.

But to scale an enterprise takes more focus.  After all, your target market is not everyone.

Most business owners are best served by focusing on a more narrowly defined target market rather than a larger one.  This is not to suggest that the "sweet spot" won't evolve over time, but at any given point in time, there is an ideal audience to be that perfectly aligns with the "why us" of the businesses current value proposition.

You can begin profiling your ideal customers today, starting with your current customers, by determining:
  • Who are the most profitable? Make a list. (Get rid of the unprofitable ones.)
  • What are their buying habits?  Identify commonalities and patterns.
  • Are these customers happy? Most repeat customers are.  Get them to talk about you to their friends.
  • How do these customers interact with others? Be visible where they congregate.
  • Can I create "characters" for my ideal customers?  Draw their biographies and teach yourself and your salespeople how to identify them.

If you are already in business, your ideal customer is out there.   They are already doing business with you.  By asking "Who are You?" more often and more precisely, you may find that you can grow your business with a lot less effort.

To be continued...

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