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The relationships that matter - who is your key customer?

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

In business, we are all part of an ecosystem. We must understand how it works, where we sit within it, and influence it the best we can.

Take for example a coffee shop. Depending on the location, customers are going to be either locals who live in the area or passing trade. A coffee shop in a suburban area will be highly influenced by repeat local custom. A coffee shop in the city near to a transport hub will not.

The coffee shop owner in both cases has to understand the factors that are going to control the flow of people to their premises.

Coffee Shop 1 - Is situated on a high street, opposite an adult education centre. It is a few metres from a school. Residential property is all around it.

The food chain for this business is simple to understand. There are a great number of people flowing too and from the adult education centre every day. This is their main business feeder. They must build a relationship with this business to stimulate their sales

What can they do to maximise the relationship with their feeder business?

They could get in touch with the centre, speak to the office manager there, and ask how to influence the communications that customers are sent. Questions to ask:

  • Could they pay to sponsor a newsletter?

  • Could they add an offer into the newsletter?

  • Could they sponsor the centres next brochure going out to thousands of homes across the region?

  • Could they post to the centres Facebook page?

  • Could they hand discounted offer flyers out to anyone coming out of the centre?

  • Can they deliver sandwiches and coffee direct to the staff of the centre?

The centre is the big fish in the pond, the coffee shop must respect and build the relationship with this player.

Also of importance is the school, schools have a huge eco-system. By focusing on how to drive sales from each of the school classes, this turns a huge amount of one off customers into happy regulars who are happy to build the coffee shop into their daily/weekly lives.

The residential customers are also important, but the success rate of targeting them is going to be a lot harder to ascertain. If you send flyers out to each house, only 1 in 10 will respond (don't quote me on this, it's from the top of my mind) So the coffee shop should prioritise the adult education centre and the school in their marketing efforts.

Of course they should be polite and friendly and treat each customer through the doors as a wished for visitor. But the business itself must understand the relationships that feed it best, and how to manipulate those for gain.

Coffee Shop 2 - is located in a city centre location next to a train station. The main demographic is business customers either going to or from their offices. There are a large number of one off customers travelling around for work too. Footfall is high, but so is competition from other similar providers.

What will help the coffee shop to maximise sales? Who should they be seeking to influence?

In this case it could be behavioural rather than player based

- Understanding the times that customers want to use the shop is vital. If people are starting at 6am then the shop needs to open early. If custom is dead by 4pm then opening late is redundant

- Using visible outside sign posting is important to get passers by to notice the business

- Looking at what the office workers near by do for their lunch breaks can identify any companies who want deliveries to their premises

- Considering larger budget activities like appearing in a commuter magazine, or on concourse advertising may be beneficial

In any case, I hope the two scenarios are useful to you in thinking about who you should be prioritising in your customer base, and how you should be looking at influencing the community around you.

Thanks for reading!


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About Me Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in South East London

Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.

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