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Do you know your customers?

You’ve heard it too many times already I’m sure, but I’ll repeat it again “if everyone is your client then no one is your client.” So, do you know who your client is? How much do you know? I ask because knowing who your client is provides you with an essential edge in today’s competitive marketplace. Here are some examples:


  • Credit Unions in Canada know who their clients are: This week Angus-Reid (March 26th) reported that CU clients “score better on key financial health metrics” and “[M]embers feel more comfortable with their personal debt levels and are more likely to have a “rainy day fund” sufficient to cover at least six months of expenses than their (non-CU) counterparts”. What they didn’t mention was that Credit Union clients, at least locally, are older. Age may be a factor in this report. Source:

  • Home Depot - US: Home Depot’s typical customer has changed and is now a white-woman making $ 80,000 who spends, on average, $ 85 per transaction.


While the examples above don’t paint a complete picture of either client, both examples provide essential pieces to the overall picture. Marketing, as they say, is part art and part science. But before you write all this off as complete BS, consider these Home Depot competitors and how they’ve positioned themselves:


  • Rona tends to offer a wide range of products for home improvement, construction, and gardening. Like Home Depot, it caters to both DIY enthusiasts and professional contractors and provides a range of services that might attract a clientele seeking a one-stop-shop for home improvement and construction needs.

  • Home Hardware also offers a broad selection of home improvement and construction products, its focus on being dealer-owned can mean a more curated product selection that caters to local needs and preferences. Home Hardware’s marketing often emphasizes local ownership, community involvement, and personalized service. Their research supports that this marketing approach, will attract clients who value these aspects in a retailer.

  • Ace Hardware differentiates itself from larger chains like Home Depot and Rona, and even from Home Hardware, through its focus on personalized customer service, and community involvement. While it may not always compete on price or product range, its strengths lie in creating a welcoming, helpful environment for customers, which appeals to those who prioritize service and community values in their shopping choices. Service is a hallmark of the Ace experience. Having said that, Ace is often surprisingly competitive and can’t be counted out.


If you’re struggling to put the pieces together for your business here are some good questions to ask yourself. Include your team in the discussion over breakfast or lunch and have a work session.


What common characteristics do your customers have?

What do you know for sure about your customers? Can you make statements about basic demographics of age, gender, and location? What can you say about interests, values, and lifestyles, or even behaviors such as purchasing habits or brand interactions? Such pattern recognition will help you adapt your approach to marketing. 


Who uses or pays for the product / service and who makes or influences the buying decisions?

When training salespeople, we always ask, “Do you know who the decision maker is?” and “Do you know who the user is?”. Often, the purchaser is not the user. For instance, parents buy toys for their children, the office manager chooses the stationary supplier.  Identifying the decision-makers and influencers will help you market more effectively. If you’re in doubt, try buying a toy for your child that they don’t like, or see if you can find a husband who is willing to make a major decision without his wife. 


What do they need so that they can do what they need to do?

Do you have a product or service that solves a problem? Do you have a product that provides fulfillment? When you know the answers, you’re better positioned to align your product or service so that has perceived value. Remember, above all else, you’re in the value business.


Which of their problems can you or do you solve?

Even good ideas need to be sold, so your marketing must demonstrate not only how your product or service can address your customers challenges, but also why they should select you over your competitors.


What are they willing to pay for?

Finally, it is important to understand what your customers are willing to pay for and why? Again, it’s about value – not just money. It’s about the value attached to resolving a problem or filling a need. Price sensitivity differs greatly among distinct customer segments, and factors greatly into customer satisfaction. Remember though, customers seldom buy the cheapest solution twice. This is especially true when bargain-priced product fails.


Getting to know your customers is a never-ending learning process. Since new products and services are constantly evolving, your customer knowledge will help you build relationships. The more you know your customers, the better you will be able to serve them, and this will eventually generate increased loyalty.

Year's ago Norm Adams told a prospect about their company's new "wife policy". He closed the deal by saying "Take it today. If you get home and your wife doesn't like it, just bring it back with the box and packaging for a 100% refund." Norm received a light reprimand later, as he didn't realize his company's VP was visiting the store that day! [Obviously, there was no wife policy .. although Norm argued there should have been.]. Norm is an trainer, facilitator, business developer, and business owner with 30-years’ experience working with small business owners, First Nations’ Governments, Indigenous entrepreneurs, as well as public and private companies in Canada and the United States. Last year, he was selected the 2023 Business Coach of the Year by the Professional Business Coaches Association of Canada. Do you know your client, let Norm help. Contact Norm today at  


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