A good friend of mine, Vinay Kumar, once owned a printing company that he grew from under $200,000 in annual sales to over $5 million! I asked him how he did it, and he pointed me to this post on his blog, where he writes:

Every quarter or so, we would print out a “year-end” report, listing for the previous 12 months, client names vs. year to date revenue, in ascending order. Applying the 80/20 rule, we then identified those top clients who provided majority of our revenue. With this list in hand, we then looked for common patterns. This included looking for items such as:

  1. Organization size, e.g. total revenue, staff size, # of members, donors, type, location;
  2. Types of projects produced, which internal capabilities were used to fulfill their needs, profitability, etc.
  3. Profile of the client as an individual, e.g. gender, approximate age, job title, knowledge of direct mail production; etc.
  4. Source of the initial client contact, e.g. referral, direct mail, cold call, speaking engagement, etc.;
  5. Clients’ desired outcomes through the projects projects, e.g. fundraising, member acquisition, renewal, new member on-boarding, product sales.

What I love about this post is how Vinay used DATA to identify who his best clients are, and then applied the 80/20 rule (80% of his business revenue coming from 20% of his customers).

The same process can be applied to any association or non-profit. If you have a centralized data system (or if you have multiple data sets, set up a data warehouse) you can analyze your sales just like Vinay does above. Then you can identify who your best customers are and FOCUS on them.

Too many associations and non-profits operate with the egalitarian attitude that “all members are equal.” The reality is that some are more equal than others, and that’s who you should be focusing on. You can’t achieve your mission if you’re broke; if your organization doesn’t focus on who brings the money, you’ll soon be out of business.