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How do I target the right customers?

Getting your products and services in front of the right customers is vital. In order to do this you need to start of by understanding who your customers are and why they are likely to buy from you. Here we will look at how you can go about deciding who you are going to market your business towards and think further about who your customers might be.

Who are my potential customers?

The short answer is that your potential customers are anybody who could use your business.  So if you’re a painter and decorator it’s anyone who needs this service, or if you’re opening a convenience store it’s anyone who shops with you.  If you’re going to really understand what your customers want you’ll need to spend time thinking about who they are.

It’s worth remembering that different groups of people want different things. Let’s say you’re running a convenience store – you’ll sell papers and drinks to commuters in the morning, comics and sweets after school has finished and drinks and snacks for people who want a night in.  Each group will want different products and you’ll use different methods to communicate with them.  Breaking your market down like this will help you develop a much clearer understanding of who you’re going to sell to so that you can think about how.  We call this process market segmentation.

How do I start to target the right customers?

The first step is to think about your product or service and the type of customers who are likely to buy from you. For example:

  • Will your product or service only appeal to specific age groups or gender?
  • Is income important?
  • Are your customer’s house holders or business customers?
  • Are your products and services linked to seasonal changes or are you likely to have custom all year round?

The more you can start to define who your customers and split them into specific groups, the better it will be when it comes to your marketing efforts. Trying to appeal to a wide range of customers with very different needs is very difficult and not a good tactic when first starting your business.

How can I segment my market?

Imagine that your market is a cake.  You can slice your cake in a number of different ways to help you understand the range of market segments that exist.  You can segment your market in the following ways:

1. Demographic

You can look at the makeup of the population in your target area by studying the demographics.  You can cut your cake by:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family size
  • Occupation
  • Income.

2. Geographic

You can look at the geography of the area.  You can cut your cake by:

  • Density of population – it the area urban, suburban or rural?
  • Climate – what’s the weather like in summer or winter?
  • Terrain – is the area hilly or flat? If your area is rural and hilly, customers may be more likely to drive to you on a night so car parking would be essential at your location.

3. Lifestyle

You can look at the different type of customers you may target based on their:

  • Social class
  • Life stage
  • Personality
  • Interests.

Once you’ve broken your market down into segments you’ll need to decide whether you concentrate on one specific segment or whether you target several.  If you’re targeting several, consider the time and cost involved.  If you’re targeting one, there’ll need to be enough potential customers to make the business viable.

 

How can I build a profile of my customers?

Once you have defined your target customers you can then start to profile them according to what they need and want from you as a business.

The information you will collect depends on your type of business. If you are targeting individual customers then you might want to know: age, gender, income, location and spending habits of your customers. 

If you are selling to other businesses you need to know how big the business is, the types of products and services they buy in, the timings of their budget year and who else supplies to them.

With all this information you can start to build up a useful database of your customers. Remember you must comply with the Data Protection Act when storing customer details.

What’s the best way to communicate with my customers?

Once you have identified your target customers you will be able to focus your communications using the right methods.

For example if your research has shown a particular age group then using social media such as Facebook might be the best way to communicate. You will be able to tailor your communication to those particular customers. If you have established that your targeted customers are all based in a particular local area then an advertising flyer may be the best method. You could do this by delivering your flyer in the local area or by placing an ad in your local trade directory. 

Of course once you have established your business in the local area you can then start to think about how you could target new customers.

Targeting customers is not a one-off activity, to help your business grow you need to be continually looking at ways to attract new clients. Make sure you keep your customer database up-to-date, refresh the information on your website from time to time to ensure the information on it is up to date.

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