Just as the universe comprises a wide variety of types of stars, so does your customer base. And like the universe, where some stars shine brighter, some of your customers are better than others.

Now imagine the power of being able to separate your worst customers from your brightest star customers—and find more like your brightest ones!

Doing so entails evaluating and understanding what it takes to attract, acquire, keep, and grow your new and existing customers' value. And to find, keep, and grow the value of your customers requires a customer-centric culture and approach in your marketing.

Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity, defines customer-centric marketing as looking at a customer's lifetime value and focusing your marketing efforts on the high-value customer segment in order to drive profits. The suggestion here is that by understanding who your current high value customers are, you are better positioned to acquire more customers like them.

That idea of customer-centric marketing entails placing the customer at the center of your marketing strategy so you can create and extract customer value. Gautam Mahajan, president of the Customer Value Foundation, defines customer value as "the perception of what a product or service is worth to a Customer versus the possible alternatives. Worth means whether the Customer feels s/he...got benefits and services over what s/he paid."

When your value proposition and offer match with the right customer segments, both you and your customers benefit. But that type of synchronization requires data. For space travel, you need data (think star maps and the locations of planets and moons because their gravitational forces will affect your trajectory.

Your marketing will also require data and science to locate and navigate toward your brightest star customers.

Take three steps to illuminate your brightest star customers

Before you begin exploring and interpreting your data, you need to know what a bright star customer looks like: You need to know what constitutes an ideal customer. Once you know whom you are targeting, you then need to understand where they reside and why they buy. Then you need to know these customers' engagement preferences.

After you complete those three steps, you can apply your knowledge to identify prospects that reflect the qualities of your best customers.

1. Define your ideal customers

Let's look at the first step. One of the best ways to understand what constitutes an ideal customer is to examine your current customers. Here's what you need to do:

  • Establish the criteria for your best customers, and weight each factor. Define at least three criteria. For example: customers who consistently buy from you, who are profitable, who are first to upgrade or buy a new product, and who regularly recommend your products and company.
  • Then delve into your customer database. List all the customers who meet your best-customer criteria. Customers who meet all the criteria are your very best, whereas those who meet some of the most important criteria, but not all, might be your next-best group of customers.

2. Learn about those selected customers

Once you identify those groups of customers, you'll need data about them that you can use to identify more customers like them. Answers to questions such as these will help you characterize your best customers:

  • What businesses are they in?
  • What problems do they need to solve?
  • What are their spending habits?
  • Why do they buy your particular solution?
  • In addition to the solution, what else do they need and use from you?

If you don't know the answers to those questions, you may need to do some research. You are looking for indicators or signals that will help you recognize prospects that mirror your best customers—the prospective customers that will shine like your brightest stars.

3. Understand their engagement preferences

Now that you have a clear and accurate picture of your best customers, the final step is to understand their engagement preferences so you can connect with more like them. Data about your brightest star customers can help you with this step as well. Delving deeper into your customer data will enable you to learn the following:

  • What are their roles, profiles, personas?
  • How did your best customers find you?
  • What was the order in which they moved from initial contact to purchase?
  • What channels did they use?
  • What content did they consume?

As you analyze that data, look for patterns. Those patterns serve as signposts that help you more easily and quickly engage with prospects who are your potential best and next-best set of customers.

Take the next step

Once you know what constitutes your brightest star customers, where to find them, and how to engage them, craft a plan that helps you...

* * *

Morphing your raw data into actionable customer insights and mapping the customer buying journey take both process and analytics, but doing so is the only way to locate your brightest stars.

In many instances you will have data. In other instances, you will need to conduct research to acquire the data. Sometimes the patterns surface easily and quickly. Other times you many need more in-depth analysis to tease out the insights.

Ready to start? Learn more about transforming data into insights and treasure-mapping the buying journey.

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How to Use Data to Reveal Your Brightest Star Customers

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is the president of VisionEdge Marketing. A pioneer in Marketing Performance Management, Laura has published four books and she has been recognized for her thought leadership, winning numerous industry awards.