Much of what I am presenting in today’s blog can be found in the Inside Advantage. If you’re serious about identifying your Core Customer, and you should be, I’d strongly recommend picking up the book. It has plenty of examples to help you discover your WHO. Ultimately hiring Bob Bloom will be your best alternative to be completely confident you’ve identified the most critical aspect of your business, your core customer.
Your “Who” phrase is going to be a sentence that describes your most valuable customer. It’s very clear and precise, and when you read it or say it out loud it should give you an instant image of who this person is. The phrase should be no more than 10-15 words.
This is a step-by-step process to help to you determine who your core customer is, and how to construct the key phrase that describes them. Once again these steps are offered in greater detail in Bob Bloom’s The Inside Advantage. I urge you to pick up the book for greater examination and examples to help you in this process.
Start by making a list of all your customers who come immediately to mind. Make sure that these are customers that you currently have, not ones that you’d love to have.
Make sure you brainstorm the customers that you share with your competition as well.
Think about these questions to help get you started:
- Who are my most profitable customers?
- Who makes up the bulk of my business?
- What is their income range, education level, special interests, and age?
- What do all these people have in common?
Now, picture that person who is your most valuable customer. Make a list of potential customers who are similar to this valuable customer.
A few examples of valuable customers would be:
- Well-to-do suburban homeowners living an active lifestyle
- Medium-sized corporations with $10+ million to invest
- Established veterinarians with their own practice
- Highly-educated, image conscious urbanites
The next thing to do is to put your list away for a few hours or a few days. Take a break from brainstorming, and seek help from other people who are familiar with your business. This could be colleagues, employees, vendors, or friends. See if they have any suggestions for your customer list. They might bring up something, or someone, important that you accidently overlooked.
When you go back to your list, your next step is going to be to circle the best examples of your current customers. Weed out the people who don’t contribute much to your business. Choose customers who fit the bill of “best customer”, but also who you’d like to recruit in the future.
This may seem like it’s hard to do, and in a way it is. How do you pick a customer who is one you have now, but also one you want to have in the future?
Well, the core customer you have right now should closely resemble the core customer you want to have. The trick is to meld the two together to reflect both the present and the future.
For example, if your current core customer is “Middle-aged men interested in NASCAR”, that’s great. There’s a picture that’s easy to see. But, like all businesses, you want yours to grow, right? So, where could you keep growing from that core customer?
One idea is to start marketing to women in the future. That means your future core customer could be, “Middle-aged men and women interested in NASCAR”.
Now, take this smaller list and describe your customer with two or three new words. Avoid the easy, generic words that readily come to mind. Really spend time defining, very shortly, who this person is.
Your goal is not to create a hodge-podge list of people who frequent your business, but to keep narrowing and narrowing until you’re left with your core customer. Who do you think best fits the bill?
Now is when you’re going to start defining what this core customer wants from your business. Don’t go through and just list what you have to offer them; that is information that you already know.
You want to start brainstorming simple, descriptive words that help define what they’re looking for from your business.
This phrase, when finished, should have two parts: WHO, exactly, is this person, and WHAT do they want that you can give them?
When you begin putting those two elements together, you’re going to use an action word to bridge them together.
For example, your WHO could be “upper-income women”, and your WHAT could be “a status-symbol luxury car”. To create your phrase, you’ll use action words like “seeks”, “desires”, “wants”, “demands”, “strives”, etc.
So, this core customer phrase could be, “An upper-income woman desiring a status-symbol luxury car”. See how that creates an image in your head about exactly who this person is?
- Remember, use your creativity during this process! Don’t just accept the first descriptions that come to mind. You need to weigh each word very, very carefully. Treat each one like gold, and keep pushing yourself to find better ones. When you’re finished with this process, you want to be left with a description that you really believe. If you just blurt something out, or get tired and “settle” for something, then you’ll just be wasting time.
- When you start on Step 1, it’s important that you don’t try to define your core customer right away. Your goal in Step 1 is ONLY to list your regular customers.
- Keep yourself limited to 10-15 words total for your core customer definition. This will keep it concise and force you to really pay attention to the words you decide to use. When you have limited space, each word has to count.
- If you’re leading a team then arriving at your core customer definition can be easier if you involve the entire group. Think about gathering your management team to help you brainstorm during this process. If you decide to go this route, then you might have to take on the role of moderator in order to keep everyone on focus. This can, however, be a great way to come up with your core customer faster than you would just working on your own.
- If you’re having a hard time figuring out what your customers want from your business, then it’s time to start investigating. Ask your customers more about themselves. What do they say to each other when they visit your store or use your service? Where do they go when they’re not in your store? When you make the effort to truly get to know who your customers are, you can better define who your core customer is.
- Don’t forget to tap one of the biggest assets you have: your employees. They’re working with your customers every single day. They might have some ideas on who they’re seeing in the store most often. Why not send out a survey to hear what they’ve got to say?
- You could also use your sales figures to help determine your core customer. If you’re a restaurant, for example, when are you busiest? Let’s say your heaviest volume is during the lunch hour. So, who is coming to your restaurant for lunch? Further digging might reveal that they’re mostly higher-level businesspeople from neighboring office buildings.
That’s a great deal to absorb, yet the process is well worth the investment. Being able to identify a clear image of your core customer will have enormous impact on your business, particularly your employees. It will save time and zero your team in on who and where they should invest their time to cultivate growth for your business.
Next step is identifying your WHAT or your uncommon offering. We’ll spend a blog on this and another on HOW and Imaginative Acts. Your best bet to really determine your Inside Advantage is to purchase the book and ultimately determine if hiring the expert, Bob Bloom makes the most sense to discovering your Inside Advantage.