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Harnessing the Potential of your Customers-Part 1 March 26, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Keeping Your Customers, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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dirksphoto.jpgHumor me a moment while I state the obvious: Your customer is worth a lot. Every customer creates more than just a ‘sale’. Every customer and every transaction with that customer creates many different opportunities for you, the small business owner.

What can a customer create besides a sale? How about customers that help you create marketing ideas? Or new product and/or service ideas? Or customers that become an extension of your sales force? Increasing your profitability starts with how you are harnessing and utilizing the available potential from your customer base.

Creating a business model that includes the ability use your customers in ways that help you profit and grow is something even the big dogz don’t always do well. In fact, in some areas, such as retail, few of them bother to harness the resources they already have in place that would enable them tap into the ‘customer potential’.

Case in point. I go to a well-known and large sporting goods store near my home. I purchase something and at the register, they ask me for my zip code, which I dutifully give them. Now, they are asking me for my zip code (and only my zip code) so that corporate marketing can make sure they are including their weekly sales flyers in the right zones.

Is that all I have to offer them? Of course not. On the surface, I’m nothing more than a zip code. Since I frequent this store, they should know what kinds of purchases I make throughout the year. If they tracked my purchases to ME, the real, individual, bonafide customer, they’d probably find a pattern. I buy lots of fishing gear and usually certain kinds. Armed with that data alone is worth its weight in gold…you think?

So this retail big dog, with it’s access to resources, hasn’t figured out how to really get to know ME, their customer. What could they do if they took the time to know me better?

They could:

1. Encourage me to buy more of what I like to buy at their store.

2. Encourage me to buy items that are similar to what I usually buy but don’t.

3. Encourage me to feel ‘special’ by providing me with ‘exclusive’ offers.

4. Link & encourage more of my family members, who also have purchasing power, to buy at their store.

5. Create events that are exclusive to customers who spend as much as I do at their store.

6. Encourage me to tell my friends just how great their store is.

7. Encourage me to tell them all about my buying habits related to what they sell or could sell.

They could get more mileage out of me but many of the big dogz don’t. I laugh when they ask me for my zip code. I laugh harder when they encourage me to get one of their ‘discount’ cards but never go beyond asking me for my zip code. What a waste.

What an opportunity for you, the small business owner. How much is your customer worth? More than you think.

I think I’m going to dedicate the next couple of blogs to this topic. It’s worth it.

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