Successful Businesses Have The Right Kind Of Customers
The Must-Have Customer offers detailed profiles of the three kinds of customers that can make or break your business. Early on, author Robert Gordman tells readers that if they take nothing else away from this book, they should remember this: Success in business is not about beating the competition; it is about serving your customers.
The remainder of the book focuses on practical ways to recognize, reach and respond to those customers: the core, the opportunistic and the must-have.
What are Must-Have Customers?
Unfortunately, they're the ones who are most likely doing business with your competition right now. Gordman points to three different customer categories that can have a significant effect on your business:
- Core customers are loyal customers who love your products or services, are willing to pay a fair price and account for 20 percent of your base;
- Opportunistic customers are the 80 percent of your base who you only see when you're having a sale. Since they usually end up costing you more money than they're worth to your business, you may need to "fire" them;
- Must-have customers are those who could become your core customers, provided you can get their attention and prove that you can meet their needs.
Knowledge Is Power
You can't reach your core and must-have customers if you don't know who they are or what they want from you. The book places a great deal of emphasis on gaining this information through the right surveys. Readers will find sample questionnaires that can be modified to meet the specific needs of any company. Gordman also points out how surveys conducted with the wrong audience can do more harm than good.
Gordman stresses that if your advertising isn't reaching your core and your must-have customers, the best creative approach in the world isn't going to be effective. According to the author, your advertising works only if it:
- Keeps core customers buying from you;
- Gives must-have customers a reason to buy from you; and
- Increases your sales and profit.
The Seven Steps
The book's main focus is on the author's seven simple and scalable steps, which uncover answers to the seven questions executives need to answer to better understand their customers, their business and the kind of strategy and marketing required for success. These questions are:
- Who are your company's must-have customers?
- What is your market position?
- How can you create a business "sweet spot?"
- What can your employees teach you?
- What is truly critical to your success?
- Are the people who work for you in the right jobs?
- Is your company's advertising effective?
Once you have a handle on what your core and must-have customers think and understand about your sweet spot, you have the tools you need to build a specific and detailed process for creating success — more commonly known as a strategic plan, which identifies critical success factors and articulates the steps needed to achieve and maintain that success. In addition, a successful strategic plan should also:
- Focus on what's right instead of who's right;
- Ask the right people;
- Dig deeper into the data you already have;
- Not aim to build consensus;
- Force you to know what you don't know.
After the seven steps have been deployed, the author proposes a method to track, quantify and measure the results of each step. Making this audit part of a regularly scheduled management review will reveal what's working and where to make adjustments. This review and adjustment process should be part of your company's continuous improvement, because customer "rules" constantly change as well.
Why We Like This Book
Robert Gordman has put all of his 30 years of experience as a marketing professional into this easy-to-read, common-sense guide to finding the right customers and serving their needs — which, according to the author, is what success in business is all about. Throughout the book, the author also points to several companies such as GEICO, Dell, Amazon, Whole Foods, Starbucks and Target, that make the seven steps work to their advantage.