FOWLER: Determining who our client is | Local News


“No one can guarantee your job. Only customers can guarantee your work. – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

We’ve taken a deep dive into the five questions Peter Drucker would ask you today if he sat down with you to talk about the organization you lead.

These questions are:

– What is our mission (or objective)?

– Who is our client (main client)?

– What does the customer appreciate?

– What are our results?

What is our project ?

Today, let’s answer the question: “Who is our client?”

Seems like a simple question, right? Our customers are the people who pay us. Yes, but what if we asked the question a little differently? Let’s put the question like this:

“Who must be satisfied for the organization to achieve its goals? »

Every organization, whether for-profit or non-profit, has two types of customers: primary and secondary.

Main customers: are your main customers. These are the people you were created to serve. You are passionate about making a difference in their lives and your organization is great at bringing value to them. Your primary or “main” customer comes first in every decision you make. If you don’t serve them well, you fail.

Secondary Customers: These are people (or groups) who must be satisfied to win, but you cannot put their needs ahead of your primary customer.

Secondary customers can include buyers who are not your primary customer, shareholders, the communities you work in, your employees, your employees’ families (if mom/dad isn’t happy, nobody’s happy! ), lenders, sellers and the government (if we don’t pay our taxes, things can go wrong quickly!).

There are many other secondary customers you need to consider when making decisions that best serve your primary customer. Make your own list of secondary customers and prioritize them. Some you can ignore, many you can’t. Remember the order of your priorities. Serve your primary customer first in a way that allows you to serve the secondary customers that matter to you.

Let’s talk about shareholders for a moment. For a long time, many believed that the shareholder was your main customer. You served shareholders first and everyone else last. This led to many short-term decision-making that hurt long-term shareholders. Smart leaders have learned that serving their primary customer first results in the best long-term returns for shareholders.

Who is your main customer?

In his book, “The Inside Advantage”, Robert Bloom defines your primary customer as:

“The ‘Who’ is most likely to purchase your primary product or service in the quantity required for optimal profit.”

Peter Drucker said this about customers: “The purpose of a business is to create a customer. … The only profit center is the customer.

Philip Kotler, known to many as the father of marketing, says if Peter were here today he would change that statement. Today he would say:

“The best companies don’t create customers, they create fans. He would say reporting better profits this year is less important than checking whether you have improved your customer’s mind and heart share this year.

More and more, we choose our main customers. We may have an existing stable of customers we serve, but should they be your primary future customers?

To help figure out who our top customer should be, ask yourself these three questions. Your primary customer exists at the intersection of all three answers.

1. Who are we passionate about serving?

2. Who can we be the best in the world to serve?

3. Who can/should drive your economic engine?

These questions are a modification of the three circles of the “Hedgehog Concept” by Jim Collins. By asking who, rather than what, we can focus our organization on the customers who are the future of the organization.

Once we know who our main customer is, we have to listen to them with passion. We must be so close to our customers that no competitor can come between you and that customer.

Customer needs will change. We need to be there to meet these changing needs in a way that best serves our core customers. This means that rapid innovation must be part of the DNA of any company that wants to be successful in the long term.

We must remember that customers buy a product or service for the result. Taxis help us move from place to place. Uber came and answered this need better.

We don’t want our businesses to become the next taxi. Knowing your main customers and staying close to them will help you avoid this.

“So ultimately, we need to master our knowledge of who the target customers are, who and what influences them, and how to create highly satisfying customer experiences.” –Philip Kotler

Curt Fowler is Chairman of Fowler & Company and Director of Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey. He is dedicated to helping leaders build great organizations and improve their lives and the lives of the people they lead.

Curt and the team at FHRS help leaders build great businesses through fractional CFO, strategy, tax, and accounting services.

To help you on your journey, we’ve created some great free resources. View them at or call us at (229) 244-1559. We would be happy to assist you in any way possible.


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