What is the purpose of a business? Every time I ask this question during a business seminar, the immediate answer that I get back is, "To make a profit."
The Real Purpose of A Business
But this answer is wrong. The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. If a business successfully creates and keeps customers in a cost-effective way, it will make a profit while continuing to survive and thrive. If, for any reason, a business fails to attract or sustain a sufficient number of customers, it will experience losses. Too many losses will lead to the demise of the enterprise.
Why Businesses Fail
According to Dun and Bradstreet, the single, most important reason for the failure of businesses in America is lack of sales. And, of course, this refers to resales as well as initial sales.
So your company's job is to create and keep a customer, and your job is exactly the same. Remember, no matter what your official title is, you are a salesperson for yourself and your company. And the best way to increase your value as a salesperson is to build your customer base.
Why Businesses Succeed
The two most important words to keep in mind in developing a successful customer base are Positioning and Differentiation.
Positioning refers to the way your customers think and talk about you and your company when you are not there. The position that you hold in the customer's mind determines all of his reactions and interactions with you. Your position determines whether or not your customer buys, whether he buys again and whether he refers others to you. Everything that you do with regard to your customer affects the way your customer thinks about you.
The Key to Competitive Advantage
Differentiation refers to your ability to separate yourself and your product or service from that of your competitors. And it is the key to building and maintaining a competitive advantage. This is the advantage that you and your company have over your competitors in the same marketplace - the unique and special benefits that no one else can give your customer.
Select Your Customers Carefully
When you begin to think about acquiring and keeping customers for life, you need to think about the particular types of customers for whom your competitive advantage is so important that they would be poorly served by using anyone else's product. You need to then emphasize again and again that the special features and benefits you offer are so important that they should not even think of going somewhere else. If, for any reason, you fail to do this, you may lose the customer and all the work you've done in building that relationship in the first place.