Following the 'Guido Principal'

By Judith Guido

The world’s most successful companies do one thing significantly better than their competitors: they identify and understand their core customers. If ever there was a proverbial “silver bullet,” as so many people in business desire, that’s it. It’s not a secret, nor is it rocket science, yet most companies still fail to do it.

If you can stay focused on the central idea that you sell to people, not to companies, neighborhoods, municipalities or professional associations, you’ll be a big success. Remember, it’s not about B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), it’s about P2P (people to people.)

Having had repeated, firsthand success with this tactic, I’ve created the “Guido Principle.” Based on the famous “Pareto Principle,” which says that 20 percent of your customers generate 80 percent of your business, the Guido Principle states that if you’ve really identified and understand your core customers, the Pareto Principle will no longer apply because every customer you have will yield maximum profitability.

So how do we identify and really understand our core customers? Start by collecting data. Talk with your front-line team; they know your customers better than anyone else. They can tell you who they are and why they buy.

Conduct this simple exercise: gather those team members and ask them to personify their top five best customers, writing down their names, attributes, behaviors, wants, needs and fears.

Identify what they buy and how they buy it, and see if any of them has a unique online identity. Then ask your team to describe two ideal characteristics each of those five people possess, and share that information with you.

Now watch your core customers come to life. You’ll begin to notice similarities surfacing, things like the fact that they always pay on time or are loyal to a fault.

The next time you engage with a prospect and find that he doesn’t possess any of those core customer characteristics, don’t devote any further resources to that person.