This was what a client said to us at a recent workshop conducted in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City.
And frankly, we love such feedback. Don’t you too? This is the favorite feedback for every business in the world.
Now, how did we achieve that? It certainly did not happen suddenly or overnight. It was a carefully planned strategy. But at the core of the strategy is one very important and fundamental key:
The CORE CUSTOMER
What is the core customer? And how does it differ from market segmenting?
Firstly, the core customer analysis goes deeper than understanding the market segment. Market segments only tell us the demographics, but a thorough core customer analysis delves deeper than that – it looks into the wants, needs and fears of our core customers. The heart of the core customer analysis is our customer is human – and humans buy irrationally.
Every time I visit Ho Chi Minh City, I visit the same tailor. I had countless suits and shirts made there. Is it because he is the cheapest? Or the best? Rationally speaking, I doubt it, so why do I keep going back?
It is because I am irrational. The human buyer buys on emotions because needs and fears are emotional. For a traveller like me, my fears of going to a tailor:
1. I go home and find that the clothes do not fit.
2. The tailor can’t finish in time for me to collect before I go to the airport. (This is a real fear because it happened to my wife when she went to Bangkok. The tailor could not deliver her suit in time and we left Bangkok without the suit and with an angry wife.)
So this tailor has consistenly met these 2 fears. And that is why I don’t bother to find a cheaper/better tailor. But wait, aren’t there tailors in Ho Chi Minh City who could meet the criteria I set? Isn’t what i am doing Irrational?
You bet! Irrational, but human. Humans are strange beings.
3 things to note, if you want to have a killer strategy for 2015.
The first – Find out your core customer’s needs and fears, and align your company’s purpose to fulfilling it. There is no better way to touch a client’s heart than by giving them the feeling that the reason why your company exists is to meet those irrational fears and needs your customer has.
This requires serious thought, because a company’s purpose is not something most company’s pay attention to. It is like Mission and Vision, two concepts that are critical, but often neglected in the rush of daily life. These two vital parts of the company are left on the wall as posters, but not as a critical part of the strategy to align and meet those needs and fears that will drive your customer to you.
The second – When your value exceeds their perception of price. What does this mean? Let me illustrate with a point I used in my workshop. Imagine you have a headache, and you went to see a doctor. One doctor charges $100 and the other $10, who will you go to? Even if the doctor who charges $100 is the best doctor in town, you will not go to him simply because the value of a headache treatment does not exceed the perception of the price!
But if you have a heart attack, when your life is endangered, you will pay $100 000 if you can afford it to get the best doctor, right? Why? Because his value to you exceeds the perception of what is a fair price.
Is headache treatment a need or a want? is heart attack treatment a need or a fear?
The greater you understand the fear and need of a customer, the better you can position your product’s value to address their perception of price.
And the last – Be different. How do you be different in a way that is significant to your client when everyone of your competitor claims to be different?
You must be different in a way that matters to your client. And that is again, your uniqueness must address the needs and fears of the customer. Joe Girard, the world’s greatest salesman once said that his customers’ greatest fear is the lost of income arising from a broken-down car. He addresses this fear by providing a personal guarantee for immediate servicing versus his colleagues who only offered a car manufacturer’s warranty.Joe Girard made himself different by offering something of high value to his core customer – peace of mind when one goes to earn a living!
Being a seminar and education business, we did all these 3 things:
1. We emphasized that our purpose is to transform lives and thereby transform the world. We reflect that in our training programs by constantly finding programs and trainers who could change the way our participants think and act for the better.
2. We bring in the latest and best content from internationally known speakers and teachers to an audience who has little access to such content and experience.
3. And last but not least, we have fun while learning through authentic experiences. There are seminars and there are seminars – some are content driven while others are experience driven. For the same price, our participants could have gone to a workshop and sit like zombies for 2 days having content downloaded into them or they could engage in life-changing experiences that make the lessons applicable and real so that they know how to use the knowledge they gained – all while having fun!
We know our core customers hate to waste time and money (especially on a weekend), so we do these three things to make them enjoy learning and to remember and apply what they learnt.
The Core Customer is really the most important piece of information your company needs. Without it, strategy is useless. With it, you can become a company where your clients come to you and declare:
You should have charged us more!
You can do a Core Customer Analysis for 2015 if you are not clear what strategy you need. Just ask! Gazelles International coaching has an entire exercise just to determine who your core customer is!