Identifying your target customers will do more than help you define your digital marketing strategy. According to Forbes, failure to properly identify customers is the number one reason why 80 percent of small businesses don't survive the first 18 months. Here are some do's and don'ts for identifying your target customers.
Don't Try to Be All Things to All People
When you're passionate about your business, it's easy to assume that everyone will want your product. It's tempting to blast your marketing messages to as wide an audience as your budget allows, but the reality is that even the big guys can't afford to target everyone. Casting a wide net and using a generic, blanket approach to finding new customers rarely works and is a waste of time and money. A hypertargeted approach is a more efficient option.
Don't Hang All Hope on Keyword Research
Keyword search tools figure out which keywords and phrases are most closely associated with your business. But does that translate into more customers? Keyword research only tells one piece of the full story. You need to know what led a potential customer to type those keywords into a search engine in the first place. What pain points did they experience? What problems were they trying to solve?
Do Use the Resources You Currently Have
To win new customers, start with the most valuable asset already at your fingertips: your current customers. Develop surveys, conduct focus groups and ask your customers for feedback (for example, a short questionnaire online). Place these feedback tools where your customers can have easy access to them, such as your business website, monthly newsletters, social media platforms or outbound marketing efforts. Be cautious not to visit the well too many times, or you'll risk wearing out your welcome.
Do Ask the Right Questions
This case study in MarketingProfs offers a step-by-step explanation of a real focus group targeting college students on their technology purchasing habits. A good focus group should tell you why your customers buy from you. But first, you must extract that information through carefully crafted questions. For example, what do they read? How do they get their news? Which websites do they visit? Are they constantly checking their email, or are they all about mobile apps? The questions you ask should help you glean the following information:
- Demographic profile: You want to know customer gender, age, primary location, ethnic background, marital status, income and education level, among others. Nielsen, for example, uses demographic profiles to determine the appeal of television programming.
- Psychographic profile: You want to know customer interests, hobbies, values, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle. This type of profile is rising in popularity as more consumers provide this data on social media and through online behavior.
A well-conducted customer identification program will help you grow your business, allow you to take a closer look at your company's strengths and weaknesses and shed light on any missteps. Just be ready to truly listen and respond to the feedback you receive. After all, you don't want to be part of that dreaded 80 percent.