This is a guest post from Grant Difford, Chief Design Officer at Waking Giants.
How often in business do we find ourselves stuck with customers that, quite frankly, drive us up the wall?
They may pay their bills on time and keep the cash flow steady, but their way of working needlessly drains resource and increases stress. Like any relationship, there must be compromise and importantly value for both sides – not just dollar signs and ticking boxes. Otherwise, as entrepreneurs and risk-takers we quickly become rigid employees of our customers rather than driving our business and staying innovative. If we can stay true to our business values, then our customers should naturally fit.
Values are greater than revenue
Our values define the very nature of our business. The best entrepreneurs are motivated not by revenue or status but by the value they create in the world. You have to decide if you’re committed to running a values-based company which requires a lot more patience with revenues in order to lay the right foundation. Having a number of cash-cow customers that tempt you away from your core values never works out in the long term, as your customers become just as fickle as you have become.
Simon Sinek solidifies this argument by comparing the short-term success of General Electric to the long-term success of Costco. Profits at GE were erratic and unsustainable where Costco produced stable and steady profits to this day – the main reason being that Costco truly valued their staff. When we place our values above all else, we can become more profitable in the long run, building a dedicated staff and customer base.
Image: Simon Sinek, via Ted.
Once you have decided to be a values-based company, you need to ensure you attract the right customers who naturally align with your values. This is the best way to safeguard your business principles. This doesn’t mean that you have become more limited as a business or more narrow in your thinking, just that you have a refined target market in mind. It starts by mapping out your ideal customer and creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a realistic representation of your ideal customer based on market research and key insights about your existing customers. Develop your buyer personas with the following considerations:
- Don’t limit yourself to one buyer persona: you could have as many as 10 depending on the nature of your product or service.
- Make sure each buyer persona is well defined: avoid overlap between personas.
- Identify the pain point in the customer’s experience: define how your business can solve their pain/problems.
- Get granular: outline key demographics, locations, interests, roles, previous jobs, challenges, etc. – this way you will be able to market in detail to attract your ideal customer.
Staying true to your business values and developing a strategy around your ideal customers will help you filter out the negative customers that drain energy and potential from your business. Importantly, this strategy will help you drive sales and profit in the long run, especially in today’s world where the customer is increasingly being placed at the centre of all successful brands.
Of course, sales are a crucial element in business. You simply can’t get by without them. However, the nature of sales is changing rapidly. Consumers have so much control nowadays and have the ability to educate themselves on any given topic – thanks to the likes of Google! This is where tactics like inbound marketing come into play to attract customers to your business, rather than interrupt with marketing/sales pitches.
One of the most effective ways to turn leads into sales is to be a highly emotive and purposeful company, articulating your values, vision and culture through your branding and marketing. When a customer lands on your website and you have described a vision for a product or service that will add real value to their lives, then you will create brand advocates. The most effective salesmen of the 21st century are indeed customers.
It all comes back to why. Why did we get into business in the first place? While ‘what’ and ‘how’ are still crucial elements, we need to put ‘why’ at the core of our existence. If we can stay true to these business values, then our customers should naturally fit.