One of my favorite business books is “The Inside Advantage: The Strategy That Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business” by Robert Bloom.
Although it was written in 2007, its principles still hold true today. The essence of it is a very simple yet powerful question every business needs to ask, and that is, “Who is our who (your core customer)?” In the book, Bloom explains exactly what a core customer is (the most valuable kind), shows you how to find him — and define him. He also teaches you how to identify your company’s core competencies.
You may be thinking you don’t need a book to tell you what you do well and who your core customer is. I’d caution, however, that if you haven’t tested this out recently, you may be in for a big surprise. Customer needs, buying habits and market conditions change so rapidly, your company may not be quite so unique anymore, nor hold the relevance or competitive advantage that it once enjoyed.
Bloom defines a core customer as an individual person rather than a market, a population segment or a company. It’s someone who buys from you at an optimal profit. Even if you have a large customer base, you’ve got to know who your best customers are down to the individual level. You must peel away the layers of the onion, revealing what matters most to them and why they buy. Buying criteria changes often today. This is not really about marketing — it’s all about strategy.
Try this simple exercise: Describe your best customer in detail using a couple of specific words, then describe his or her individual traits or characteristics. Write down why this customer is high priority, and what makes him or her a great fit for your company. List the services and products the customer buys, and why your team enjoys working with him or her. Next, create a list of that customer’s essential needs.
Identifying exactly who your core customer is and what his needs are will allow you to zero in on the things your company does — or should do — to meet them. This will differentiate your company from the rest of the pack and help you create a competitive advantage.
Judith M. Guido is chairwoman of Guido & Associates, a business management company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.