Why You Need More than Customers

If you have been in business very long, have attend any marketing workshops or Webinars or read any marketing books, you no doubt have been told that you need to find your ideal customer.

Here are just a few of the ways that marketing people talk about finding the ideal customer:


  • Target Customers
  • Target Customer Profile
  • Premium Customers
  • Red Rope Customers
  • Ideal Customers

Trust me. You need more than customers! The word customer focuses on the transaction. Historically, that means I come into “your shop” and purchase something. I leave your shop, use your product and come back again when I need more products or services.

The idea of a transaction is so yesterday! Today, a successful business does not focus just on customers or even creating partnerships. Forget about it!

Your business needs to focus on developing tribes: closely related groups of people, businesses and organizations with whom you have a mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services. Tribes will consist of friends, fans and followers and the key concept is mutually beneficial.

Here are four ways to stop worrying about getting customers and start connecting with your tribes.

  1. Think mutual benefit. In a tribe, people have different gifts and roles which are valuable on their own, but become even more valuable when they are used together. Your company, your supply chain and your family works that way (or should).  Now extend that out to your potential customers. It’s not just about how you can serve them, but how you can serve each other—together, at the same time.
  2. Recognize shared interests. Pre-social media, this could be pretty difficult to do unless you happened to share a passion for hoops or wine tasting or “whatever” with your top customers. For many companies the idea of shared interest was “we’re glad you are interested in our products.” It doesn’t have to be that way. Today, social media gives us a detailed view into the interests of our customers and how to connect with them. Market research, the social way, is fast and easy for any business owner to learn the shared interests of their customers and prospects.
  3. Understand shared needs, wants and desires. Yes, this directive dates back to Mad Men (and before). But now the emphasis in on shared. That means you need to go beneath the surface in looking at the needs, wants and desires of your potential customers. It’s critical to understand how your product or service can be used to deepen a cooperative relationship, not just make a sale. How to do that?  Find out why your customers are buying, and you will discover how to create a tribal relationship. This may be co-promoting your joint services. Or you may learn your product is addressing a need for someone in a new way, one that you hadn’t considered before.
  4. Validate shared values and motivations. This is a question of priority. How critical are your products and services to the customers you are serving? It’s likely that only 10-20 percent of your customers consider your product to be essential and that’s because they share your values and passions. Validate those shared values by working closer with, and offering more services at better value, to these highly motivated customers and watch your referrals grow exponentially.

In short, concentrate your efforts on the customers who are part of your tribe, with whom you have a mutually beneficial relationship, and forget about the customers who are simply looking for a transaction at the cheapest price. They are here today and gone tomorrow—taking your business with them.

How secure are you with your tribal relationships?  Page 2 of the 5 Easy Pages marketing system is designed to walk you through the process of turning customers into Friends, Followers and Fans and developing tribal relationships. You can download the Page for free here or purchase the system here.

Please comment and let us know what YOU think.




About Clare Price

Clare Price is a strategic, creative and results-oriented marketing strategist with more than 20 years of experience in marketing, market research and management consulting. Since 2003 Clare has helped hundreds of clients in 22 industries (IT, real estate, mortgage, insurance, retail and consumer goods verticals, etc.) to develop winning products, compelling messages and dominant market positions.

Clare is the author of five marketing books (the 5 Easy Pages system guides), 700 articles in technology, marketing, and business growth strategies. She has been a featured speaker for the American Marketing Association, eWomen Network, multiple real estate associations, and the U.C. Davis Graduate School of Management.


  1. I actually liked this. Many thanks. I;ll tell others about this too.
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