"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now."
I’m a big fan of Zig Ziglar so I find myself reading his work on a regular basis. I ran across this quote by him recently and it got me thinking about success and failure in how we promote our organizations.
Too often, as we take actions to get more customers (or clients or patients or donors or volunteers) we focus on today rather than what is best for our organization. We put our resources into getting a lot of customers in the door as fast as possible instead of investing in attracting the right customers who will be the best fit for our business.
We choose quick customers over quality customers.
It’s easy to understand why we would do this. Cash flow is king and money in the door now is better than money in the door next month or next quarter. Most organizations are not burdened with having so much money they don’t know what to do with it. Most have the opposite problem.
So, to keep the bills paid and to keep our weekly, monthly and quarterly reports looking good, we focus on getting a lot of new customers as fast as we can.
I’m not saying that getting a lot of new customers is necessarily a bad thing. But, long term, it can be a bad thing for your business, if they’re the wrong customers.
That begs the question, who ARE the right customers?
Of course, this varies based on your business. Every business is unique in what it does and how it provides its products or services. So, every business will have a unique BCP, or "Best Customer Profile".
Your BCP is simply how you describe the people (or companies) that your company is best equipped to serve. They are the people who will benefit most from what you do best.
Therefore, to find out who your best customers are, you need to know two things:
1.What does your company do best?
2.Who would get the most benefit from what you do best?
A detailed discussion of these is more than we have room for here. But, I have published an ebook that goes over this is some detail. It’s actually a self-study course called Five Minute Marketing. You can download it free from my website here. (Please let me know what you think about it.)
Once you know who your best customers are, make sure your marketing activities will bring them to you.
To do this you need to find a message these people will respond to. You need to find ways to deliver your message. And you need to be patient because people don’t change their habits overnight.
As you plan your marketing, keep in mind who you are attracting as new customers. If you attract a lot of new customers quickly with sales or gimmicks or freebies, then understand what you’re getting.
Remember the old saying, "easy come, easy go."
It’s just as true in marketing as anywhere else. Quick customers are not always long term customers because they usually become customers for a short term reason.
Quality customers are more valuable because they fit your business better. They value more highly what you can do for them. So, they’re more likely to stay with you for the long term.
The Value of Committed Customers
I work with a nonprofit organization that provides adult mentors for kids. The adult mentors spend a couple hours every week with their kid and they usually do so for several years.
This nonprofit has found that many of their mentors commit to being a mentor after 2-3 years of thinking about it. It takes that long to decide if it’s something they want to do.
And this turns out to be a good thing because when people do commit to being a mentor, they stick with it. They stick with it for years, often 5 years or more, which is good because the kids they work with benefit much more from the long-term relationship with their mentors.
In this organization, the kids need people to be with them for years, not months. So, they have found ways to attract volunteers (mentors) who are in for the long term.
If you want customers that will stick with your business, year after year, then understand they’ll need time to become your customer. It won’t happen overnight. But people who take time to make a decision usually don’t abandon ship at the first sign of trouble. They’re usually more committed to the decision they made and they’re more committed to being your customer.
By understanding who you can best serve and by taking the time to reach them with the right message, and by being patient, you can attract loyal, long-term customers who will stick with you through just about anything.
And that’s a pretty a good customer to have!