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Serving Non-customers Profitably

by Randall Craig on August 5, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Business Development, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet

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Every organization focuses on profit first, right? While this is true for the corporate world, it often isn’t true in the not-for-profit sector, nor in government. These organizations typically have many different stakeholders, including the communities they serve, donors, regulators, media, and special interest groups. And the goals of these stakeholders move well beyond profitability.

If you have only developed skills to grow sales and reduce costs, then you might be perfectly well-suited for the corporate world… of ten years ago. Just as individuals grow and learn, so do corporations.

Over the last decade, many corporate entities have looked at the not-for-profit sector and recognized that focusing on the needs of a wider stakeholder group is precisely the means to a [profitability] end. At the same time, not-for-profits have changed by learning from the corporate world: many have developed sophisticated marketing and fundraising programs, strong technological foundations, and tremendous management focus. Developing skills beyond profit and loss is critical for personal success in the corporate world of today: relationship-building skills, communications skills, analytical skills, and conflict management skills are but a few.

This week’s action item: Identify the stakeholders who you serve. Some will be your “customers”, both internal and external: this week, it’s the “non-customers” that you want to think about. Who are they? What are their needs? And what can you do to better serve them? Answer these questions, and commit to doing at least one thing beyond the normal. Learn from the not-for-profit world: while you may have clear performance objectives that are related to profitability, success comes from serving non-customers profitably.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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