I heard a statistic today that the average consumer only visits seven Web sites on a regular basis.  So the prevailing "venture capital wisdom" (an oxymoron) dictates that if you have a Web site, you need to be one of those seven.  Evidently, we all have a handful of sites that we go to for our news, buying, etc.

But then it gets fragmented in a hurry.

I play the drums.  My sister likes rubber stamping.  My dad likes photography.  My daughter likes Webkinz.  And so on.  Pretty much everyone goes to Yahoo and Google and Amazon.com.  Like, three sites.  But what about the other four sites in your target customers' rotation?  What are they?  You have no idea, do you?

Which leads me to the ...

$64 Question:  If you could only have 1000 customers over the entire life of your business, who would they be?

  1. Would they all be completely different?  A nurse + a grave digger + a first baseman + a banker + ... and so on up to 1000

  2. Or would they all be exactly the same?  Say 1000 twice-divorced, childless female airline pilots between 40-50 years of age who play 36-holes of golf on the weekends with their boyfriends.

Obviously, the more ALIKE your customers are -- the more easily you can market to them in a way that truly resonates with them and establishes your brand as a central element in their lives.  You can make investments in them, and they in turn will make investments in YOU.  It's a personal thing, like a friendship, and it makes event marketing possible -- both online and off.

Consider the rock music business.

Rock bands penetrate, bind and then DEFINE the subcultural community of fans that surrounds them.  The product (music) comes first, the event (concert tour) comes next, and then the merchandise is developed to celebrate
the event (tour tee shirts, etc.).  Then the product development
(recording) cycle starts all over again.  The best bands are constantly leveraging their brand to re-invent themselves in a way that's new-yet-familiar to their current fan base.

Until a band gets famous, new fans get to know the band through their old fans.  They're friends of friends.  In the 90s, a good friend of mine played bass in a band called Sugar.  Like Deadheads, people used to follow them around from city to city, then pay to see their shows.

Would your customers do that for you?  Mine neither!

Hypothetically, if the King of the World told you today that on pain of death you had five years to accomplish this kind of loyalty with 1000 customers, what would you do starting today?  Please comment below.

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Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter specializing in integrated marketing and "new media." He has been featured in MarketingSherpa's Great Minds in Marketing series and received coverage in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal Online. According to Viral Garden's weekly rankings, Harry's weblog MarketingHeadhunter.com is one of the top 25 marketing weblogs in the world.