9 reasons why customers are not all created equal

Marketing in a nutshellNot all customers are equally desirable and “everyone” is not a target market. Whilst there will be some subtleties in the way you target your ideal customer or clients there are some common qualities that everyone should be looking for: the ability and willingness to pay, knowing what they want and understanding what that entails in dealing with you (or being prepared to take your advice), and being easy to work with are key.

I’ve been doing some networking this week and one of the questions I usually ask in these situations is, “Who is a good customer for you?” This question does one of two things.

If the answer is a clear one, it helps me to understand how best to look out for a referral for that person.

If the answer is along the lines of, “Well, everyone really. Everyone can buy my stuff/use my services so I’m happy to talk to everyone,” then it’s a safe bet that their marketing needs some help.

For one thing, “everyone” is not a market. Not “everyone” needs or wants what you sell, or is inclined to buy from you, or has no strong loyalty to another supplier, or can afford to pay for it, or even sees the point. Crikey, even Coca Cola can’t claim “everyone” as its market while I think it’s filthy-tasting American imperialist poison!

More to the point, if you don’t have Coca Cola’s marketing budget you really do need to focus your resources on who your good customers are. Each market, of course, will have its own characteristics and preferences and you need to understand these but there are some common qualities that you should be aware of, especially if you’re providing services where the value of your time is essential.

  • They can pay – that is, there money will be there to pay you when it’s due.
  • They are willing to pay – and not have endless reasons why it would be great if you could give them a freebie.
  • They pay on time – because if they don’t at best they’ll be eating into your time as you chase overdue payments and at worst they’ll scupper your cash flow.
  • They don’t chisel over a reasonable price – if you cut your prices without revising the scope of what you’re doing your profits will drop.
  • They don’t waste your time – it’s just another cost to your business unless they’re happy to pay for the time they spend.
  • They don’t keep asking for extra work that hasn’t been budgeted for within your existing agreement.
  • They’re organised – a disorganised client will just add time to the job that you might not have budgeted for.
  • It’s not like pulling teeth to get the right and relevant information out of them – see above.
  • They know what they want – if they don’t perhaps see if it’s appropriate to add an extra service in scoping it for them.

A practical list of the common qualities you should look for in a customer or client. Of course, avoiding the bad customers is not the same as attracting the ones you really do want – there’s a bit more subtlety to that – give me a call if you need some help there.

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