What Other Kinds of Customers Need Your Products or Services?

You want to grow. So you direct the salespeople to make calls twice as frequently on their accounts. Not much happens.

Next, you increase your advertising budget by 10 percent. Not much happens.

Then you increase your promotional budget and customers increase their immediate purchases, but sales droop as they work off the increased inventory they are carrying.

There has to be a better way to grow. What is it?

Attract new types of customers for your offerings.

Most organizations answer the question of who else needs their offerings by describing more of the same kinds of customers or beneficiary recipients in some other location. That answer is helpful as far as it goes, but what you learned doesn’t exhaust the potential.

Keep going. Who else?

Rather than just scratching your head, invite customers, suppliers, distributors, partners, employees, and those in the communities you serve to help you.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) got a tip from an employee’s family member about a great product available in Asia for removing scum from bathroom tiles. On further investigation by P&G, the cleaning product was discovered to be made from automobile insulation produced by BASF, which was already a P&G supplier.

It’s highly likely that BASF didn’t think of P&G as a potentially large user for its automobile insulation material. The story ends happily for BASF thanks to that P&G family tip.

I once met a marketing specialist for a large company whose job was to find new uses for the company’s products that would attract more customers. When asked how many new customers this activity had attracted, the specialist stroked his chin and softly said, “One.” When asked how much product this one customer had bought, the quantity turned out to be tiny.

Based on its track record, this company would have done better to have abandoned its inside-out search.

Here are some questions that may help you find new users as you reach out to your stakeholders for ideas:

1. What other attributes does your offering have that no one is yet using?

2. What new, valuable attributes could be added to your offering?

3. How could your offering be adjusted to substitute for something else?

4. How could your offering be combined with something else to add benefits for new users?

5. What can you take away from your offering to make it less expensive to use than a currently preferred alternative?

Good luck with your hunting for new types of customers!

Copyright 2007 Donald W. Mitchell, All Rights Reserved