Brief Explanation Introduction

Who are your customers?

Customers vs. Beneficiaries 

Who is your Customer? In other words, who is willing and able to pay you for the goods or service that you provide? 

A social business must consider both its beneficiaries (those whom it seeks to support) and its customers (those who will pay for its services). Are these the same people? In many cases, they may be (for example, SolaRise selling its solar panels to rural off-grid households). However in many cases beneficiaries and customers are different. An education venture, for example, may have a mission of helping children (the beneficiaries) but sell to parents or teachers (the customers). 

Exercise 1

Please answer the following questions to help you define who your customer is: 

  • Are your beneficiaries able and willing to pay for your product? 

If not, is there someone connected to the beneficiary who is willing and able to pay? (e.g. relatives, parents willing to pay for their children etc). 

  • Who is that person? Why are they willing to pay for services to support the beneficiary? 

If there is no private other group that springs to mind, how about government? Does your venture tackle a societal problem that the government might be willing to pay for?

If the government is not necessarily a customer, which other groups can you think of that might be a customer for you? For example, would companies be willing to be your customer as a form of sponsorship? 

Once you’ve identified potential customers for your social business, please try and be as specific as possible in describing those customers. For example: where are they located, what is their budget, who are examples of potential customers, can you describe an ‘ideal’ customer profile? 

Exercise 2

It is quite likely that there is more than one type of customer that your social venture might sell to. An education venture, for example, might consider selling direct to parents as well to schools. SolaRise could experiment with selling its Solar Kits to local organisations such as schools and hospitals as well as directly to rural households.  

Ventures very often settle on just one type of customer when there might be others that would be more suitable. 

How many other ‘customer groups’ could your venture be selling to? Is there a group that you haven’t thought of that might be more attractive? 

  • Brainstorm as many potential ‘customer groups’ that you can think of for your venture. Start with your beneficiaries, but then write down as many related groups as you can. The aim here is not to select one group, but to come up with as many possibilities as possible. 
  • Then go through each of the customer groups that you have identified, and write down against each what product you would be selling to that particular group, and how a selling campaign to each one might look like. For example, in our education venture introduced in previous modules, how do you think the venture might be able to appeal to alumni or parents? 
  • Finally, go through your list and rank out of 5 (1= low, 5 = highest) each customer group / product idea in terms of sales potential. For early stage ventures, you want to start with the easiest customers first; i.e. those that will help you generate revenue the quickest. You can always add new customer groups later. 

Does one customer group stand out as the best one to have as your initial customer? 


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