Consider not only your immediate short term needs but also your long term hopes and in that process very carefully consider the value of the customer or the client. Every business, every product line, every service organization even if it is distanced from the ultimate consumer by a distribution chain you’re still dependent on an actual consumer for its lasting success.
The greatest asset a business can ever possess is a known list of satisfied, loyal customers.
Let me give you a simple example in small business.
When I first moved to Phoenix I was investigating various businesses that I might acquire. One that attracted my attention was a bookstore located on a main street in the center of downtown Phoenix.
My observations revealed that the store’s inventory mix was poorly selected for its primary clientele, which is business people and office workers. Considerable floor space in the store was being wasted and the store did have excellent traffic during the day.
The asking price for the store was a little high as asking prices usually are but it looked to me like the numbers could be made to work.
But then I asked the problem question,
“How many people with their home addresses are on your mailing list?”
This store owner after five years of operating the business had never bothered to collect his customer’s names and addresses on a mailing list. He had no way to directly reach out to his past and present customers.
He mistakenly thought that the value of a business is its lease, its furniture and fixtures, its inventory, its financial statements. He didn’t understand that none of those things are worth much without customers.
Now let’s take big business. When you buy a new car or a new stereo or a new appliance you are separated from that product’s manufacturer by a chain of distribution that includes manufacturer’s representatives, wholesalers, warehouse operators, and the store or the dealer.
Yet you probably filled out a warranty registration card and mailed it to the manufacturer.
Why is that done?
One reason is so that the manufacturer can find out who its customer is. Some manufacturers then use these lists to market. Others just accumulate the data unsure of what to do with it but at least they’ve got a customer list.
As you establish small business marketing objectives and strategies for your business I urge you to carefully consider the value of the customer.