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Why you must dance with both primary and supporting customers.

Josh Clark, CEO Richer Life
June 2, 2016

I’m a dance dad. For those of you outside the “dance community”, let me clarify, I don’t dance, I finance. Being a dance dad teaches valuable lessons, like how to be poor, and how to integrate activities for your entire family with the countless competitions you attend each spring dance season.

I know, you’re already learning a lot from this post. You’re learning there are such things as dance communities and dance seasons. I know, mind blowing. Listen, this dance thing is serious, and it’s serious business. Parents easily invest four to five figures a year in professional training and we do it from age three to eighteen. Why, because the benefits to children who participate in dance rivals anything offered by more traditional kid’s sports.

Several weekends ago, my family and I attended the Monsters of Hip Hop dance convention in Santa Clara, CA.  I enjoyed watching the freestyle battles, tried my hand at krumping, and tried not to notice the booty popping (yes, that’s a thing). But what impressed me the most was how aware the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara was regarding the needs of their supporting customers. Notice I said supporting customers, not primary customers, and definitely not secondary customers.

A customer is anyone who utilizes your products or services. All of us have customers, both in our personal and professional life, but under this broad definition, it can be difficult to focus efforts on those who offer you the best ROI. So you must understand the difference between your primary customer and your supporting customer. How do you know the difference, let me break it down for you (yes, more dance slang).

“Your primary customer is the center of the bullseye. They’re the focus of your marketing and service efforts. When you aim for and hit this customer – you win. Primary customers are the individuals and organizations who not only desperately need your products and services but also have the resources to acquire and utilize them. In your personal life, they’re the givers who return more than they take. Yes, we need primary customers, but primary customers rarely travel alone.”

You see, every primary customer is surrounded by supporting customers. These are the people that help you make the sale. Supporting customers are the gatekeepers, the designated recommenders, and the purse holders that make your primary customers profitable. Every product or service has a primary customer and supporting customers. Here are a few fun examples:

  • Lucky Charms Cereal: Primary Customer = Kids, Supporting Customer = Moms who have given up by the time they reach the cereal isle or Dads will secretly eat the marshmallows after the kids go to bed.
  • Panera Bread: Primary Customer = Health conscience people who want to eat good food that also tastes good. Supporting Customer = Friends of health conscience people who want to eat a sugary pastry while their friends eat good food that tastes good.
  • Dance Conventions: Primary Customer = Kids who love to dance. Supporting Customers: Dance mom’s who are living vicariously through their kids, siblings who desperately want to be somewhere else, and dad’s who are trying not to notice all the booty-popping (yes, still a thing). NOTE: Most dance moms are sweet, caring, sacrificial women who love their children. The one’s who aren’t, you’ve seen on TV.

The idea of primary customers and supporting customers was not new to the Hyatt Hotel. While the hotel did a great job catering to the needs of the hundreds of pre-teen and teen hip hoppers that crashed the scene that weekend. They didn’t forget the thousands of Moms, Dads, and siblings who sacrificed their time and money to support this wonderful dance sub-culture. The management team did such an incredible job of accommodating the needs of their supporting customers I just had to write about it. Here’s a short list of some of their tactics:

  • Provided over 2,000 square feet in a secluded area for little ones to run around, watch movies, and play video games.
  • Stationed microwaves around the lobby for warming that expensive hotel bar food.
  • Ran a free photo booth for all the little divas and divos.
  • Posted inspiring banners for parents to read whileriding the elevators for the umpteenth time.
  • Perfectly managed the tension caused when a hip-hop convention and supercross championship converge on the same hotel.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I will be submitting this post to Hyatt in hopes of remuneration. But even more importantly, I will be looking for ways to better identify the needs of my supporting customers, so that I, my businesses, and the teams I lead can work to exceed their expectations. After all, it’s the way the supporting customers were treated 

that will have this dance dad bringing his primary customer back to next year’s Monsters of Hip Hop.

I’d love to hear how you dance with your primary and supporting customers. Drop me a note or leave a comment.


Thanks for reading and have fun dancing!

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