Building an Outrageously Solid, Customer-Centered Model to Test All Business Decisions

Me You Me You

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Are you still with me?
Here’s where we are.

We started inside our hearts and looked inside the hearts and heads of our ideal customers, as best we could . . . hopefully we’ll keep doing both. It’s not a spreadsheet. It’s personal, from me to you, to me, and back to you again.

Me  you   me  you

Now that we’re used to that, we can work on the most basic decision model. Every decision that follows will have this model as a test.

Here we go. We started building it sometime last week.

Building an Outrageously Solid, Customer-Centered Model

the model that we’re building will test future decisions about a specific business. To do that we need to define the business by building these four parts.

  • An explicit description of the customer and the niche market he or she would be part of — The group will be relational and easy to describe The goal is to crawl inside the customer’s head and to feel his or her needs before he or she does.
  • A company named for the customer — will fit and appeal to the ideal customer “Call it what it is,” a wise man once said to me. A customer can find us more easily when we let them see who we are.
  • A tagline that does its job — will state what you promise and deliver It’s a promise that explains the value we offer to the people we want to serve.
  • A “do” statement — will be a few-word answer to “What do you do? This answer becomes easier to get to once we’ve reached the answers to the first three parts.

All parts work as a whole to define the business from view of the ideal customer. When all parts are defined together, this definition becomes the touchstone to which all future questions and definitions can be tested and verfied.

Does what I’m about to do fit within this model to make the business stronger, clearer, and more real to my ideal customer . . . or does what I’m considering weaken my plan and fogs up my message?

Use the model to be sure that future decisions support how we’ve defined the company.

What do you see here so far? What questions do you have?

More is coming I promise.

Next: The tagline

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Is your business stuck? Check out the Start-up Strategy Package. Work with Liz!!

To follow the entire series: Liz Strauss’ Inside-Out Thinking to Building a Solid Business, see the Successful Series Page.


  1. says

    Hi Mike!
    Yep. My tagline is the promise of my business . . . here it is “You’re only a stranger once.” My “do” line is what I say when you ask at a party, “What do you do?” I answer something like, “I’m a business-talking saloonkeeper on the Internet.”

  2. says


    Good delineation. You ought to do this for a living :-)

    Another example, if it might help readers:

    My tagline: “Teaching Smart People Practical Ways to Become Extraordinary”

    “Do” line: “I teach good managers at least 3 ways to become even better.”

  3. says

    Hi Liz

    Over 4 years ago I spend a very pleasant and funny afternoon with Mike Perk, my ‘personal’ web-wizard’ following exactly your four tips on creating our business name. We had the best of fun really, outlining our preferred customers, our aim at what we would be doing for them etc. And the business name had to fit right in there.

    Think we pulled-off a great one – including a playing with words everyone ‘gets’. Our registered business name can mean two different things – and still manages to mean the same – now that sounds complicated!
    Wood, you’ll like (say it quickly)
    Would you like? (again, say it quickly and then you make all kinds off add-ons with it, like: Natural Wooden Flooring or Easy Maintenance or…)

    That afternoon our business was really born:
    Wood You Like, Natural Wooden Flooring

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  4. says

    Hi Karin!
    Exactly. Part of the beauty of what you did is that you still feel the joy of putting the ideas together. That’s the beauty of a great idea. It gets simpler, more useful, and more fun/beautiful over time.

    In your
    Wood You Like, Natural Wooden Flooring

    you have said so much . . . what your product is –> wood flooring, that it’s about the customer –> you like, that you stand behind what you do — wood you like, that you care about your quality — it’s in this deliberate word choice –>Natural Wooden Flooring.


  5. says

    We (and Mike too) still feel ‘proud’ of our ‘invention’.
    I love great to-the-point and ‘it-does-what-is-says-on-the-tin’ business names.
    A friend of mine has: ‘Inspiring Interiors’, another runs ‘Handed Picked Wines’.

    Taking care of your customers IMHO starts with being clear in everything you do. A business name that is simple to understand is a pre in this.
    What do you think a business called: ‘Liquid Knowledge’ does? (Serious question)

    Karin H.

  6. says

    Hi Karin!
    You just wrote a business book in one sentence.

    Taking care of your customers IMHO starts with being clear in everything you do.

    Liquid Knowledge . . . no clue. I don’t have the time to figure out what they were thinking of when they came up with that.

  7. says


    Liquid Knowledge is an IT company (local in Charing). The director of that company was at the same workshop as I was a few years ago. One of the items we had to do was stapling your business card onto an A4 paper. During the coffee-break everyone had to write on all those A4’s what they thought of the card and name.

    Our name and card got lovely ‘reviews’, his only questions or wrong assumptions.

    ‘What’s in a name?’ Way more than you think, specially when you’re trying to ‘brand’ your business.

    (side-note, later I heard from another employee of that company the director has just spend a lot of money on re-branding his IT company to Liquid Knowledge. IMHO: money down the drain ;-))

    Karin H.

  8. says

    Hey Karin,
    Maybe that’s where the “liquid” comes in . . . pouring money I can’t see. Lots of people feel that way about IT consulting. It’s a bad image for IT — ouch.

  9. says

    The one place in business where the word Liquid is used most often is liquid assets. That’s money. If they’re not financial wizards, I’m not sure I want them near mine. :)

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