I’m so glad Netflix is streaming episodes of Cheers, an iconic TV show for those who weren’t around when it originally aired in the 1980s. There is a regular character who causes all of us who have watched the show to yell in unison when we see him walk in to the bar that the show centers around.
Norm Peterson is the lovable accountant who visits the Cheers bar everyday to engage in a little revelry. This character provides an almost perfect analogy for understanding the persona of your “core customer” and using it as the foundation of your strategic plan.
Norm represents the core customer of Cheers. He’s loyal, and he buys regularly. The staff enjoys serving him. Everyone enjoys being at the bar that much more when he’s present. It can be concluded that they also drink more beer. (Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting that heavy drinking is acceptable or that you should run your business like a bar. Alcoholism is a serious sickness. I have recently witnessed a dear relative suffer from it, causing much pain to himself and his family).
That’s pretty much the same definition of your core customer. Norm embodies what you want. He’s loyal, buys a lot from you without fussing too much about price. This person is enjoyable to work with and influences others to buy from you,, too. The staff of Cheers knows Norm like the back of their hands. You should know your core customer the same way.
With Norm, it’s not about the beer. With your core customer, it’s not really about the features and benefits of your product or service either. It’s about the way you deliver your product or service. It’s about the ways that it solves other issues the core customer experiences. Sure, the bar makes their money from the beer they sell to Norm. However, they deliver it to him in a special way (“Norm!”) that addresses his need for camaraderie, his penchant for pranks, and his competitive nature.
What does your “Norm” need?
Your core customer has higher, or deeper needs, than the specific features and benefits of your product or service. Knowing these things about your core customer allows you to create a differentiated Brand Promise. That allows you to build a great strategic plan.
Twenty years ago, I wrote a silly little book titled, How to Create Customers as Loyal as Norm Peterson: The Cheers Model of Marketing. It uses the characters of Cheers instead of business terminology to explain how to build your marketing strategy around your core customers. I also did a number of really funny keynotes on this theme.
A few copies are still available. If you want one and you can figure out how to send me $15 via Venmo, PayPal, or Square, I’ll send you a signed copy.
I just might be updating the book, now that the show is getting a new life with streaming and more people are getting to know Norm.