The Science of Trade Marketing – Issue 2: Customer Census & Classification

Customer Marketing Quad Cities

First You Find Them

Customer Census is exactly what it sounds like. You are basically taking the strategy you defined at the beginning of the process (see Issue 1) and using it to determine what your desired customers and prospects might look like. This is, essentially, the potential customer universe for your company. Since you now know what the customer you want looks like, it’s up to you to gather them together into a common platform. This is Customer Census.

There are a number of sources you can use to source your customer list. The obvious first choice would be internal company records of existing customers or prospects. Another good source for potential customers is syndicated, or standardized external, data from a reputable source such as Trade Dimensions or Dun & Bradstreet. It’s important not to discriminate during the Customer Census process. All you’re trying to do is identify the full customer universe, in its entirety, which potentially fits your strategy. You can exclude those customers that represent less opportunity later on during the Trade Coverage Planning process.

Defining Your Customer Universe

Then You Classify Them

Customer Classification is, in short, the process of applying a set of common attributes to all the potential customers in your customer universe. These attributes can be standard to your industry or they can be unique to your company. The important thing is that these attributes will be meaningful to your company and can be used later on to define the relative value of one company in your universe versus the others.

Following are some examples of key attributes you might apply during Customer Classification.

  • Volume – How much do they purchase or sell in units?
  • Dollars – How much do they purchase or sell in dollars?
  • Control – Is it a single entity (independent) or part of a larger corporate or buying group (chain)?
  • Channel – What trade segment would they fall into (e.g. Food, Drug, Mass, Hardware, etc.)?
  • Customer Type – Is it a wholesale, retail or buying office type location?
  • Customer Status – Is it a current customer or a prospect?

Next Steps

There are many potential attributes to choose from and they can be revised periodically based on changes to your business. Whatever attributes you decide on, however, should be associated with the specific customer records in your customer database. These records will be the basis for segmenting your customer universe during the next step in your Trade Marketing planning process. It is now time to move on to that next step in the process, called Trade Coverage Planning.

Tags: , , ,

Article written by John Howard

67Articles Email John Howard

John is the founder and President of Frontera Marketing Group. A graduate of the University of Iowa, John had more than 20 years of professional experience in Sales and Marketing prior to founding FMG. His corporate background included a number of companies, industries and roles including National Account Manager, Product Manager, Brand Manager, Director of Trade Marketing, Director of Marketing and Vice-President of Marketing.

Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. find out what happened to limewire

    Good blog with some exciting information. I am going to be back.

    April 13th, 2011 at 12:21 pm Reply

  2. fine art

    I really like your writing style, wonderful info , thanks for putting up : D.

    April 20th, 2011 at 10:31 am Reply

    • President

      TYVM. We like your website too!

      April 22nd, 2011 at 9:11 am Reply

  3. lost gf love

    I do agree with all the ideas you’ve presented in your post.They’re very convincing and will certainly work.Still, the posts are too short for beginners.Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post

    April 22nd, 2011 at 7:04 am Reply

    • President

      Thanks for the comments. We’ll be happy to provide additional detail if you have specific questions. Feel free to email us!

      April 22nd, 2011 at 9:10 am Reply

  4. gchat extra emoticons

    I truly gain benefit from the blog.Really thank you! Wish a lot more.

    April 26th, 2011 at 1:11 pm Reply

    • President

      Thank you for the great comment. We’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading! 🙂

      May 5th, 2011 at 4:58 pm Reply

  5. free xbox 360

    I was really glad to find your post The Science of Trade Marketing – Issue 2: Customer Census & Classification.

    April 27th, 2011 at 5:26 am Reply

    • President

      We’re glad you found it helpful. Be sure to check out the other 3 articles in the series.

      May 5th, 2011 at 4:57 pm Reply

  6. SEO Services

    Fantastic share! Thanks for this insightful post and I seem forward to a lot more long term postings. Have add this blog site into my reader.

    April 28th, 2011 at 6:12 am Reply

    • President

      Our thanks to you for stopping by and for the kind words. Feel free to suggest topics if there is a particular subject you’d like us to cover.

      May 5th, 2011 at 4:56 pm Reply

      • Costas

        Very informative article, thank you! Would love to read something analogous on trade marketing strategy regarding trade programs and trade events! (as opposed to trade coverage).

        Thanks again!

        February 6th, 2014 at 1:28 pm Reply

  7. Elna Rainha

    Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any helpful hints for novice blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

    April 30th, 2011 at 3:05 am Reply

    • President

      Thank you for commenting. The best advice we can give is write what you love and be social. Go out and interact with people and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

      May 5th, 2011 at 4:55 pm Reply

  8. web design

    Scripts tend to be easier than books for me, but due to the fact there’s less work in them at the duration I write. The actual longest one that’s ever been filmed was about 20 minutes (later edited down to 15), which would actually cover 4,000 phrases. It took a couple of weeks to write. My books are over 100,000 words, and have a year or more.

    April 30th, 2011 at 9:53 am Reply

  9. Bespoke Kitchens

    It’s extremely difficult to acquire valuable info on site this is clear and nicely explained. Thanks.

    April 30th, 2011 at 11:20 am Reply

    • President

      Thanks for the kind words. Please stop by again and comment all you like!

      May 5th, 2011 at 4:52 pm Reply

  10. xenon

    Your weblog seems to be wonderful – complete with high quality content.. and so forth. I believe you might get even superior achievement with incorporating some extra movies and pictures. What do you feel. Even though I’ve bookmarked it. Thank you.

    May 1st, 2011 at 2:04 am Reply

    • President

      Thanks for the great feedback. We had an internal discussion ourselves and are planning to incorporate our Youtube videos into the site as well as add at least one image to every new blog post. Hope you keep you coming back!

      May 5th, 2011 at 4:50 pm Reply

  11. Ena Reen

    I happen to be writing to let you understand what a helpful discovery my daughter gained browsing yuor web blog. She noticed a good number of things, including how it is like to have an incredible helping heart to get many others completely gain knowledge of a variety of complicated topics. You truly exceeded my expectations. Thank you for rendering the interesting, dependable, educational and even easy guidance on the topic to Kate.

    May 4th, 2011 at 6:55 pm Reply

    • President

      Thank you and we’re glad to help. Feel free to contact us, or have her contact us, if there is a particular topic where she would like more information.

      May 5th, 2011 at 4:48 pm Reply

  12. President

    Thank you for the comments and please tell your roommate to check us out too. We’re happy to talk marketing!

    May 5th, 2011 at 4:54 pm Reply

  13. Shun Cutlery

    I haven’t checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

    May 9th, 2011 at 3:12 am Reply

    • President

      Glad to have you back. Let us know if you have a particular topic you’d like to see.

      May 12th, 2011 at 9:03 am Reply

  14. Family Solicitor

    your link on my blog here ,Its great as your other articles : D, thanks for posting .

    May 11th, 2011 at 12:33 pm Reply

  15. Diets

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!

    May 18th, 2011 at 5:29 pm Reply

  16. coupons

    Do you have a spam problem on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; many of us have developed some nice methods and we are looking to trade techniques with other folks, please shoot me an e-mail if interested.

    May 19th, 2011 at 6:47 am Reply

  17. student visas

    Thank you for any other informative site. Where else may just I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a venture that I am simply now running on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

    June 5th, 2011 at 11:14 am Reply

  18. Devon Scotts

    Thank you for another terrific write-up. Where by altogether different might virtually anyone get that form of facts in this ideal way with words? I’ve some powerpoint presentation future 1 week, plus I’m on the turn up for the purpose of this sort of info.

    June 7th, 2011 at 6:17 am Reply

  19. Immigration

    I would like to thnkx for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website. I am hoping the same high-grade website post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings fast. Your write up is a great example of it.

    June 8th, 2011 at 9:56 am Reply

  20. Conveyancing Solicitors

    Usually I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice post.

    June 14th, 2011 at 2:59 pm Reply

  21. Conveyancing

    Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my web site thus i came to “return the choose”.I’m trying to to find things to enhance my site!I assume its adequate to use some of your concepts!!

    June 20th, 2011 at 5:31 pm Reply

One Trackback

  1. Your Friend & Partner…

    I really think your blog is great! I’ve added a link back here; I hope that’s alright as I’d like my readers to check your site & articles out. It’s Here. Always like to honor high quality content. Great job!…

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>