A word about your customers: B2B versus B2C.
This is critical to companies of all sizes and types (B2B and B2C), as it is critical to know your customers to the fullest extent possible. Often times people struggle with the questions of “who is our channel?” and “Who is our true customer?” For example, if your company manufactures MP3 players, selling through Best Buy and other retailers, who is your customer? In this case, the end customer is the consumer and Best Buy is the channel.
Remember in this case your marketing your products to the consumer, not to Best Buy. In some instances companies like Costco and Walmart resell products in their brand name and considerable product customization and the necessary marketing to sell the products. In this case, these companies wind up being the customers.
The rule of thumb is: if a company that buys products directly from you adds considerable value (in this case, perhaps, product customization, marketing, etc.), then these companies end up being a customer. In either case, identifying the “end customer” is crucial to pure data collection.
As we delve deeper into this, I don't want you to get hung up on B2B versus B2C; we all have customers, and these customers provide us information. That information is the power we seek, not an endless debate over who, exactly, our customer is. So whether your customer is a VP at a Fortune 100 company or a little old lady buying her gardening supplies at the dollar store in Scranton, these principles will work equally well for you.
Also, in a B2B situation make sure you are gathering data from the right person. Give enough thought to who this might be – the actual user of the product/service or the decision maker (the person who signs the checks).