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Your Primary Customer Is Not Looking Up At The Stars

Updated on April 6, 2013

NASA’s Chief Administrator, Charles F Bolden Jnr, understands the idea that a successful organization recognises one primary customer. Charged with several responsibilities, NASA develops technologies and sells them onto the private sector as quickly as possible. Created in 1958 and designed to be a profitable organization enabling access to the mysteries of space, many view NASA as an organisation for earth scientists.

Your Primary Customer is Your Main Source of Income

Nothing could be further from reality. NASA’s primary customer is private American companies that bring value and commerce to American shores. NASA takes advantage of new and innovative technology, both as purchaser and producer. This symbiotic arrangement makes their primary customer their primary supplier too, and this relationship informs high-level strategy.

Satisfy your Primary Customer Needs

Your firm can learn much from NASA’s approach to its organizational mission. Designate most of your resources towards satisfying your primary customer’s needs. This means encouraging an industry relationship between expert customers and your company employees. Your company culture gains a confidence that enriches the story of your firm, its traditions and personality.

Innovate With Your Primary Customer in Mind

NASA, as an organization, was built to be innovative. It aims to encourage employees not to ‘think outside the box’, but to think inside the corners, and try to look for and find things that others wouldn’t ordinarily find. While the mission of NASA is to enable access to the mysteries of space, it would not be such a profitable organization if it treated those who just want to look up at the sky, as its primary customers.

A ‘Wow’ Response to Your Product Does Not Always Equal Sales

Your firm may also have a ‘wow’ factor which attracts a diverse range of interested customers. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you have a wide customer base though, as you will end up diverting innovative employees and resources into areas which have a low return on investment (ROI).

It may seem to the outside observer that those interested in earth science, marvelling at the website pictures of space which can’t be downloaded anywhere else in the whole world, are a customer base. NASA doesn’t market products to the enquiring teacher or student, or budding environmental scientist, though all could be regarded as ‘customers’. Keeping its eye firmly on profit potential, investing the majority of its resources in innovative technology, NASA the innovator, stays on top of its primary customer base.

Identify Your Primary Customer and Experience Growth and Success

Your company can benefit by identifying who is not a customer too. Your primary customer is the one with the most profit potential, who purchases from your organization and regards you as expert. All three factors need to be in play. Those who admire your expertise alone are just ‘star-gazers’. If you want to be a long-term success, you need to think about how your firm can find what no one else can find, and bring that innovation to sell at market.


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