Knowing your customer has become more critical

Tips For Small Business

Your Money

November 18, 2007|By STEPHEN L ROSENSTEIN

Small-business owners know one thing for sure - conditions on the business playing field can change rapidly. The technology that seemed cutting edge last year is now outdated or obsolete. Buyer moods can swing sharply and marketing strategies are in constant flux.

How can you tell the difference between a fleeting fad and a true trend? Louis Patler, a market research guru for companies such as American Express and Dell, has spent decades tracking emerging trends. He says embracing new ways of thinking is the key to successfully piloting a business in the years ahead.

For example, Patler says that truisms like "stick to what business does best" are outmoded. If you want your business to grow, new approaches are vital.

Not all customers are created equally. Some are more valuable and loyal than others. Those are the ones you should offer the most attention with special savings and service.

Small-business owners who know how to acquire and manage information will achieve the most success. Capturing and analyzing data about customer needs, wants, behavior and how they use your product or service will become increasingly critical.

Stephen L. Rosenstein is co-chairman of Greater Baltimore, SCORE Chapter No. 3. Call 410-962-2233 to speak to a SCORE counselor or visit To send a question to SCORE representatives, e-mail

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