Riddle me this. What is the one thing you need to call yourself a business? What is that crucial ingredient most necessary to be considered an actual entity providing services, programs, resources, and/or products to an elite group of people or organizations? You think you have the answer. We'll give you a minute to ponder it over. Would asking a lifeline help? Go ahead. We'll wait. It's probably worth double-checking to ensure you're spot on.
Ok, let's see if you nailed it! The answer is ... Customers!
You need customers to call yourself a legitimate business. Depending on the type of business and where you are established, a few pieces of paperwork are required, and a couple of signatures are needed, but at the end of the day, if you have no customers, you have no business.
Your audience is the cornerstone of your organization. Without them, well, you're nothing. However you phrase and define them, business does not succeed without them. Serving members? Great, you're not an association without them. Providing an exclusive product to government entities? Awesome! You need them to purchase your offering if you're going to survive. You get the picture. There's no you without them.
If this is true (which, by the way, it is), then why do you know so little about your customer? If your audience is everything and the very future of your organization is in their hands, shouldn't the vitality of who they are drive everything? Shouldn't your world of business revolve around them? One would think so. Yet, client after client, project after project, we find that many organizations don't know their audience as well as they would like to.
Daily operations and the efforts of conducting business consume the calendar leaving little to no room for customer date nights. We know what you are thinking. What in the world is a customer date night? Well, it's those tasks, projects, research activities, feedback loops, and retention plans that allow you insight into the audience sector you serve. It's the time your organization spends getting to know your audience. The data you collect, the responses you receive, and the goals you achieve are solidified indicators of who your audience members are.
Your audience is doing the hard work. Every day they tell you something new about themselves. In every touchpoint and encounter with your organization, they leave messages, little clues that provide a complete picture view into their lives, thought world, and unfilled needs. Your customer is leaving it all on the table, taking the vulnerable position of putting it out there, hoping that you won't leave them hanging. So, please don't.
You must show up to each appointment they set with you. Don't stand your customer up. Respond to hints and cues provided. Adjust what, where, when, and how you operate based on what they tell you. These actions are how an appreciation for them is shown. You make it clear to them that they matter to your business. You remove all ambiguity and arrive just as transparent and vulnerable as they do. You put your money where your mouth is, allowing them to see the care, not just hear it.
Remember, without them; there is no business. Sans members, there is no association. Your mission becomes irrelevant. Your goals fall flat. The riddle isn't too much of an enigma. Your customer is your business. The only mystery here is why aren't we operating like this is gospel truth!
Struggling to understand your audience? Reach out for a free consultation to learn more!