The Must-Have Customer: 7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got
Author: Robert Gordman with Armin Brott
Publisher: Truman Talley Books/St. Martin’s Press
What kind of customers help a business to thrive and grow? Robert Gordman has spent almost 40 years as a successful business leader and consultant, and in The Must-Have Customer: 7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got, written with Armin Brott, he uses the insights he has learned to illustrate the most desirable customer. Companies spend “billions of dollars chasing down, acquiring, and trying to serve the wrong customers,” he writes. He divides customers into three categories: core, the most loyal; opportunistic; and must-haves, noting that must-have customers “could become core customers but they currently do business with the competition.”
Each chapter of the book is dedicated to one of the seven steps and is further broken down into subsections that cover specific points or examples raised in the chapter. Step One, “Who Are Our Must-Have Customers?” shows how to identify each customer type and how much effort and resources a company should dedicate to each type. Step Two, “What Is Our Market Position?” helps companies identify their position in the marketplace and points out the importance of knowing what that position is and how the company got there. It argues that companies must focus on core and must-have customers because it is they who ultimately determine their market position.
Step Three emphasizes the need to identify the company’s “sweet spot,” or niche. While it is important to create a niche, it is more important to “take that niche and create an impenetrable fortress” in order for the company to survive. Gordman likens the failure to identify and capitalize on the “sweet spot” to “swimming in quicksand.”
Step Four addresses the very sobering question of why satisfied customers still buy from the competition. Satisfaction, says Gorman, is not the same as loyalty. Satisfying customers simply means you’re doing nothing to drive them away, but nothing to make them feel obligated to return. The chapter also suggests ways to win customer loyalty.
Step Six emphasizes that companies may commit resources to researching and courting must-have customers, but may still fail if their employees are not trained and committed to recognizing and pleasing these customers. Sales staff and customer-service representatives must understand the company’s initiative because customers generally do not have contact with management. They must know “the sweet spot” and be trained to effectively sell the product so that must-have customers keep coming back.
The book is loaded with examples of how companies such as Coco-Cola and J.C. Penney Co. have used the seven steps or principles. Businessowners who recognize the importance of identifying and attracting the ideal customer definitely should read it. They may find that they have been focusing on the wrong type of customer all along.
Reviewed by Soroya Brantley
The Black List
By Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
and Elvis Mitchell
Atria Books, September 2008
$29.95, pp. 208
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made The Black List in 2008. Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks made The Black List, too. And so did former chairman of Time Warner Richard Parsons. This past September, photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and journalist Elvis Mitchell redefined “the black list” and flipped the term from meaning “being ostracized” to denote “being elevated.” The book highlights 25 African-Americans who have made valuable contributions in the fields of the arts, business, entertainment, politics and sports. The Black List accompanies the acclaimed HBO program and features full-page color portraits that reflect the pensive tone of the inspiring interviews.
The American Journey
of Barack Obama
The Editors of Life Magazine
Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy Little, Brown and Co., October 2008
$24.95, pp. 176
President-elect Barack Obama captured national attention with his stirring keynote speech during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In this recently released book, Obama’s rise to become the 44th president of the United States — too bad the book does not include jubilant photos of his victory — is chronicled with 150 photographs of Obama with his family and on the campaign trail. The images could serve as a representation of what writer Charles Johnson states in his essay — one of 12 in the book — that “Perhaps it would be best to describe the Obama phenomenon as being not so much revolutionary as it is evolutionary.”
Reviewed by Clarence V. Reynolds