In my post “Everything important on the back of an envelope,” I described the right way to think about customers. Not according to who they are -- demographics -- but rather, according to what's important to them. Looking way beyond the boundaries of what you sell.
Here's the logic.
Twenty years ago, we could segment people into groups, to understand what it takes to win their business. According to correlations with things like age, income, where they lived, family, prior purchasing preferences, ethnicity, etc.
But the Internet has obsoleted all that by providing immediate access to everything we want to know and electronic communities that reach far beyond older and narrower circles of influence. Today, people who look identical in all demographic respects are likely as different from one another as an atheist and a priest -- in terms of what they care about, what they want to buy and why.
So now, how do we identify cohesive markets? People who will respond similarly to the same kinds of stimulus from us?
It's by looking more directly into how people think. And understanding what they care about most.
Understanding what people care about most is now our most solid beachhead for building loyal relationships. And for getting them to promote us to others who think like themselves.
And here are the implications.
First, I'd be quite surprised if your current customers don't represent a wide range of patterns regarding what they care about most. But that's no problem. It's simply the reflection of what's fallen into your snare, unintentionally.
So, consider just for a moment what your customer base might look like if you addressed the more important cares of a large pool of homogenous thinkers in more accurate and compelling ways? My bet is that you'd have more customers. From the outside, they might look a lot different, but they'd be more loyal. And you probably wouldn't lose any of the legacy outliers --- until someone else comes along who addresses their cares more explicitly.
Start thinking a few layers below the surface about your customers. Consider what they care about most.
And start adjusting your business to match those things, maybe in ways you'd never imagined before -- which is the gateway to equally unimaginable results.