For entrepreneurs looking to start an online business, or even current business owners needing to re-evaluate their brand, assessing your target customer is a crucial step. Being able to define who your advertising efforts are geared towards will help you focus, and will help increase the possible success of your endeavors. When marketing online, it becomes even more crucial, as many avenues of advertising allow you to make your work visible mainly to targeted audiences. This is true of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other popular social media platforms.

Knowing your target customer can also help guide your business decisions. Your tone, appearance, attitude, and other messages can be tailored to appeal to your audience. Your product may even need to be adjusted slightly to better accommodate the people most likely to buy it. And while changing your original vision even a little can be challenging, your sales will be better for it.

Some business owners are afraid that defining their target customer will narrow down their potential clients. In reality, doing so will help you become more efficient. There is no need for you to turn away a customer who wants to buy your product if they don’t fit your targeted audience. Remember, because you are filling a specific need, your target customer is more likely to buy your product than someone who doesn’t fit in that category.

In order to discover your target customer, think about a few of these items:

  1. Hopefully, you’ve already started to sell your products to people you know personally. Who has bought your product? What do they all have in common? How are they using the product?
  2. Research your future competition and their clients. Besides knowing who they are and how they are using the product, look for something your competition is missing. Is there a demographic they are ignoring? Could you improve upon their products?
  3. When you created this product, who did you have in mind? If you haven’t already envisioned your “perfect” customer (one for whom you’d love to sell to and for whom the product is a great match), do so immediately. You want to make your description as specific as possible, including age, ethnicity, education level, occupation, family status, income level, location, gender, political or religious leanings, shopping habits, and other interests.
  4. If your target client is a business, it is equally as important to define it. Think about location, purpose, industry, number of employees, size, scope, and amount of annual sales.
  5. When it comes to online businesses, it is especially important to think about your potential customer’s Internet habits. Most of your traffic will come from online. Where your business is located online might even be influenced by your target customer. You will always want to use social media to advertise and encourage traffic, but how and what you use will depend on your target customer.

Pakroo, Peri. “Define a Target Market for Your Small Business.” http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/define-target-market-small-business-29950.html. (1 August 2013).