Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash

In working with Scaling Up clients, defining their “Juicy Core Customer” is often some of the most challenging, controversial, and yet utterly impactful things we do to drive business growth and profitability. One of the reasons it is so challenging is that it requires us to narrow our focus and say “no” to lesser business opportunities. Often when we start, we’ll hear team members say something to the effect of, “Our core customer is anyone who will buy our product and can fog a mirror!”

However, when a business is taking this type of shotgun approach to their marketing and sales, inevitably they are taking on business that is actually unprofitable to them. Don’t believe us? Just think about your last customer from Hell and how painful and costly they were to your organization.

One of the least understood elements of strategy is that all strategic decisions actually start with the Juicy Core Customer.

Developing a strategy to connect and win with your juicy core customer is a four-step process:

  1. Defining the Juicy Core Customer (Who/Why/How/Where?).
  2. What uncommon products and services can you offer them that goes beyond Unique?
  3. Develop your overarching Brand Promise and 3 supporting promises (strength and accuracy to attract the Juicy Core Customer).
  4. Define kept promise indicators (KPIs) to ensure you are delivering on your promise to the customer.

We’ll go through each of these steps now.

1. Defining the Juicy Core Customer (Who/Why/How/Where?)

The Juicy Core Customer is defined by five key traits:

  1. Specific Persona: The Juicy Core Customer is not a generic or broad target audience. Instead, it represents a well-defined, specific individual or organization with distinct characteristics and needs. We call this persona our avatar.
  2. Attitudinal Buying Need: This customer has a particular, often deep-seated buying need that goes beyond superficial factors like price. Understanding and addressing his or her attitudinal needs is the secret. It’s these deep insights into their buying needs that enable you to develop unique and uncommon products and services that set you apart from your competition.
  3. They buy for maximum profit and pay on time: They are motivated to buy based on factors other than just price. This could include factors like quality, convenience, brand reputation, or unique features. They are your organization’s most profitable customers. They are also reliable when it comes to timely payments, which drives great cash flow. The action step here is to do some data mining to determine who your most profitable customers are.
  4. Preferred Business Partner: These customers are a pleasure to do business with. There’s a positive working relationship, and they appreciate the value your organization provides. This extends their loyalty and lifetime value. Similar to the point above, your frontline employees and your data can give you clues about who these Juicy Core Customers are.
  5. They’re not mythical, you can find them through identifiable patterns and behaviors: The Juicy Core Customer has consistent patterns in terms of what they do, where they hang out, and how they buy. This gives you clarity on how and where to find them. While market research and focus groups can help you identify these customers, you really want to observe them in their element.

The Who/Why/How/Where is about understanding your customer’s unique needs, wants, and desires. When we zero in on our Juicy Core Customer, it’s like flipping a switch. Suddenly, the lights come on, and you realize that wasting time on non-juicy customers is costing you dearly in terms of time, opportunity, profit, and cash flow.

2. What Uncommon Products and Services Can you Offer Them that Go beyond Unique?

Once you have determined your Juicy Core Customer and know what needs you can address, you then figure out how to turn them into raving fans of what you do best. To do this, you need to develop uncommon products and services that specifically meet their needs in a way that competition has not even fathomed. Think of uncommon as a more useful form of unique — a more elegant and advantageous solution.

To get your head around this, Robert Bloom, author of The Inside Advantage said, “…it is vitally important that your offering be experienced by the customer as neither ordinary nor unique.” In saying this, he is suggesting that ordinary means your competition can offer any product or service just like you, and oftentimes unique has a problem with credibility. Uncommon products and services are more strategic and have more staying power in the marketplace than those that are only unique.

Let’s look at some examples:

In the world of B2B, look at Scaling Up client Big Ass Fans. Even their name is uniquely tied to their Juicy Core Customer. They’ve got proprietary insights that set them apart. While others struggle to sell industrial fans, Big Ass Fans is in a league of their own. They understand the unique needs of industrial spaces, how proper airflow can cut costs and boost productivity, and they’ve got it down to a science. This understanding puts them on top of their profit pool and lets them expand into other lucrative segments.

Kash and Calhoun, the masterminds behind How Companies Win, call this the “proprietary understanding of your customer’s demand.” In plain language, it means you know why your Juicy Core Customer buys from you so well that you’ve got insights they might not even consciously recognize themselves. You’ve tapped into their emotional needs and the implications — their hopes, fears, and dreams — that they may not be comfortable sharing with you.

Take a look at Skechers. This shoe company has risen to number four over a lot of established brands. One of the brand’s main selling points is its focus on innovation, comfort, and affordability. With their new and uncommon Slip-ins™ line, they have distinctly tapped into the consumer’s desires to not want to tie their laces, or even bend over to put on their shoes (who wants to admit they are that lazy!). Their uncommon design solves a problem; they even integrated a shoe horn and a heel gripper into the shoe! Although they may not be the best to look at, Skechers has employed ex-Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo to position these hands-free shoes for cool people with their arms full, and travelers who have to take off their shoes at security checkpoints. This is the quintessential “job to be done” that Harvard professor Clayton Christensen stressed as the fundamental element of strategy. Skechers has done this so well they have created another shoe category.

Speaking of category creation and an uncommon solution, PING invented the game-improvement golf club in the early 1960s. The deep-seated need of the competitive recreational golfer was to hit the ball straighter and easier so they could enjoy their game more. Their founder Karsten Solheim, a tennis player, realized that racquets were perimeter weighted which created a bigger “sweet spot.” He started with heel and toe weighting in his PING putter and followed up with cast cavity back irons in subsequent years. Their early patents were stamped on the back of their clubs and arguably started the trend toward patented innovation in a highly competitive industry. In developing your uncommon solution, “dare to be bad!” This concept which is exposed in the books Uncommon Service and Blue Ocean Strategy asserts your need to have the courage to be overtly bad in some areas in the duty of being great in others. This forces you to be laser sharp on prioritizing the needs of your customers. In the era they launched, PING’s cast steel cavity backed clubs looked very primitive and unfinished compared to the sleek chromed blade-style clubs that were the de facto standard. PING clubs were uncommonly easy to hit versus the blades, which was the breakthrough. They have been in the business of innovation since they were founded in 1959 and are still at the top of their game.

Don’t think for a second that this level of understanding is out of reach for your business. Whether you’re in a niche or an over-crowded field, take a lesson from Big Ass Fans, Skechers, and PING. Do the work, dig deep, observe, and ask those insightful questions that make you an active participant in your customers’ journey. The uncommon solution uncommonly solves the problem. All of these companies solve the needs of the juicy core customer in a unique and uncommon way. That’s the recipe for a winning strategy.

3. Develop Your Overarching Brand Promise and 3 Supporting Promises (Strength and Accuracy to Attract the Juicy Core Customer)

A company’s commitment to its customers is not merely a description of its actions; it’s an aspirational commitment to what customers can expect to truly experience. It’s a solemn promise to deliver on the company’s distinctive value offering consistently.

At A Player Advantage, our overarching Brand Promise is “a team of greater than 90% A Players.” We put our money where our mouth is with a guarantee. Frustrated CEOs hire us to build their team up from C and B Players to 90% A Players. These CEOs want everybody on their team to win as much as they do.

Your company’s Brand Promise sets you apart from the competition. It’s quantifiable, and it centers on fulfilling the core needs of your customers. You want to structure an overarching promise that resonates with Juicy Core Customers with three supporting Brand Promises; that’s your proof positive.

One of our clients, Renaissance Tech, is an IT software and solutions company. They automate the build of custom products on an assembly line. Their software and solutions are used to build some really cool stuff: speedboats, modular solutions for acoustics and lighting, and fire trucks.

Renaissance Tech is an excellent example of how to construct a Brand Promise:
sell more, screw up less!

  1. On-time delivery
  2. On budget
  3. Proven ROI on projects

As soon as Renaissance Tech defined its Brand Promise it immediately resonated with its customers. It helps them decisively win business because it is what people are looking for. It hits the hot button of the consumer and they are literally thinking “That’s me” or “That’s what I want.”

To define a Brand Promise for your company, you need to begin by defining your company’s core values. What principles and beliefs guide your business? You then put in the work to understand your ideal Juicy Customer’s needs, desires, and pain points. From there, you can determine what sets your business apart from competitors. Identify your unique strengths, qualities, or offerings.

Keep your Brand Promise concise and easy to understand. Avoid jargon or complex language — less is more! It should be something that anyone can grasp quickly and it will emphasize the benefits your customers will receive. Ensure that your Brand Promise aligns with your core competencies and is something your business can consistently deliver. Authenticity is key. Your Brand Promise should reflect the true nature of your business and what customers can genuinely expect.

Want to see a prime example of this in action? Look no further than BMW. Their Brand Promise is “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Because of their commitment that is solely focused on the driver, BMW lets their customers know that they will have a confident and inspired driving experience in a vehicle built for precision and athleticism. BMW’s Brand Promise is so good, it has driven their marketing for decades. It truly hits the mark.

Make sure your Brand Promise connects emotionally with your target audience. It should evoke feelings or resonate with their aspirations. Make it memorable! A memorable promise is more likely to stick in the minds of your customers. Once you’ve defined your Brand Promise, consistently communicate it in your marketing materials, messaging, and interactions with customers.

Most importantly, live your promise! Ensure that your business delivers on your commitments consistently and lives up to its Brand Promise in every aspect, every day.

A simple indicator of whether you have effectively defined your Juicy Core Customer and Brand Promise is this: You experience effortless growth and your margins are strong.

4. Define Kept Promise Indicators (KPIs) to Ensure You Are Delivering on Your Promise to the Customer

Your kept promise indicator (KPI) is how you measure that you are upholding your Brand Promises. A promise lacks substance when it cannot be upheld. It should hurt to break the promise. This is why it is critical that you know how to measure daily on whether you are keeping your promises. It reduces the customer’s fears in doing business with you.

Questions to ask yourself to discover your own KPIs:

  1. What’s the most important result, product, or service my customers want from me?
  2. How can I measure it from the customer’s lens?
  3. What promise can I make to my customers that is under my influence, and the measurable action I can take that’s going to provide the best result?
  4. How would the consistent delivery of this kept promise indicator provide my customers with an even better experience?

RedBalloon is one of the fastest growing companies in Australia. They offer experiences you can purchase in a one-stop-shop kind of a website. The founder, Naomi Simson, thought she knew what to promise her customers: an easy-to-use website and onsite support. It wasn’t until she talked to her friend that she realized customers might assume that RedBalloon must be marking up the price of experiences. After learning her customers’ needs, she developed a new Brand Promise: “If you come to RedBalloon you won’t pay any more than if you go direct.” Then they developed the catalytic mechanism, “If you do (pay more) we will give you 100% of the experience back.”

A catalytic mechanism should be the kind of catalyst that instigates a sense of urgency and causes that pucker factor, prompting accountability and an internal drive and gnashing of teeth to address the issue before it escalates. It should evoke a collective effort akin to going to “Defcon 4” to swiftly and decisively resolve the issue and ensuring it doesn’t recur.

Here’s an example using an IT company. When customers have an IT problem, nothing is more frustrating than being put on hold for long periods of time and transferred around to multiple customer service reps. To tackle this all-too-common customer experience problem, the IT company promises that all calls will be answered by a real person within three rings. Impressive, right? This is a kept promise indicator because it’s something the company can influence, measure, and is client-facing. This activity is influenceable, measurable, and predictive of the client experience.

To top it off, the company promises they can resolve your IT problem in an hour or less, another great kept promise indicator they’re measuring. And when they do it well, it’s predictive of a positive client experience.

Now that you’ve grasped the heart of a Brand Promise, let’s evaluate yours. Is it time for a thorough review or perhaps the creation of a fresh one?

Crucial Takeaways:

  • An effective Brand Promise accelerates your brand’s growth.
  • Begin with a deep understanding of your customers and their highest-priority needs.
  • Utilize your strengths to shape a distinctive and invaluable offering for your
  • Juicy Core Customer base.
  • Remember to incorporate your purpose.
  • Fine-tune your promise.

Identifying your Juicy Core Customer, developing your uncommon product or service, and creating your Brand Promise with KPIs are at the heart of strategy and the foundation of improved business success. When you get these four elements correct, life gets so much easier for you and your business. The right customers and profits almost appear automatically. Schedule a conversation with me today to accelerate your development of these.

Identify areas of improvement in your business

Click here to take the FREE Scaling Up Business Assessment

Scaling Up Business Assessment