Who is your customer?

Before you begin selling something, you need to know who you are selling to. If you haven’t determined who your target market is, you are likely to try to be all things to all people and end up with a product nobody likes or a service that doesn’t meet anyone’s needs.

When developing a general profile of your customers, you might want to define them by their demographic characteristics, such as:

Age, usually given in a range (20-35 years)
Marital status
Location of household
Family size and description
Income, especially disposable income (money available to spend)
Education level, usually to last level completed
Interests, purchasing profile (what are these consumers known to want?)
Cultural, ethnic, racial background

For example, a clothing manufacturer may consider a number of possible target markets — toddlers, athletes, grandparents, teenagers and tourists. A general profile of each of these possible markets will reveal which ones are more realistic, pose less risk and are more likely to result in a profit. A test market survey of the most likely target groups, or those who buy for them, such as parents for babies and toddlers, can help you separate real target markets from unlikely possibilities.

Once you have defined your target customers, you must learn about their needs and preferences.

What challenges do they have that could be solved with your product or service?
What are their needs and expectations regarding this product or service?
What types of things do they desire?
What do they spend their money on?
Where do they shop?
How do they make spending decisions?
Those are just a few of the many things you might want to learn about your prospective customers.