The Difference Between a Customer and a Client

If you visit dictionary.com to look “customer” and “client” up, you’ll find these first definitions:

customer

1. a person who purchases goods or services from another…

client

1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.”

I’ve shortened them to make a point: You don’t want customers any more after reading those definitions. You want clients. You don’t want people who buy from you once because you simply have the “goods” they need right now. You want ongoing relationships with people who use your professional advice and expertise — who buy from you because of how you help them, not what you hand them.

You may think this is splitting hairs; that it’s semantics. But it’s really a mindset. Cultivate relationships so that you become indispensable for what you know (that you can transfer), how you help, and how you make people feel about the interaction. When you do that, you’re building a client base, not a customer list.

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