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Your Target Customers

Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network


In order to reach your target customers, you've got to know who they are. Look for common identifiable characteristics. Are they companies or individuals? Do they fall into a certain age, geographic or income demographic? How do they buy your type of products or services? How often do they buy them? What features do they look for?

Don't use general terms - instead of "people who want to buy a dress for an infant" use something like "grandparents and other gift givers who are looking for a special outfit for a newborn."

Be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Not everyone is your target customer. Don't sell to everyone - segment your markets. If you are selling home heating oil in a specific region, you could target your marketing at every household in that region. But would that be an efficient use of your time and money? Probably not. You'd want to narrow your focus. Is your target customer existing users of home heating oil or is it people who use gas heat but are thinking of converting to oil? Or are you looking for people who've just bought a house and haven't decided who they will buy their oil from? Are you selling to residential customers or to local businesses?

Some other things to look out for:

  • Be sure your target market is large enough to support your sales objectives.

  • Don't guess who your target market is. When possible, quantify by numbers through research. Call trade associations; go to your research library and look up market data; use demographic information from the census; etc.

  • The purchaser of your product or service may not necessarily be the user.

  • If you're selling business-to-business, remember that your product or service is bought by a person, not by a company.


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