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Finding and understanding your customers

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Created by North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), 9th January 2017


Got an idea? A new product or service, or maybe a new business altogether? One of the most critical things to understand is who your customers are, and how you can contact them. There's no escaping the fact that customers make a business, so here are some things to think about when looking at that all-important launch.

Who are you selling to?

When defining your target market, it’s important to ask yourself all the right questions. Who are your customers? Why should they buy from you? What problems can you solve for them?

Create a number of personas for the different types of customers that would buy from you, including where they live or work, what they do for a living and what sector they work in. If you are targeting consumers rather than businesses, consider whether it’s relevant for you to target based on gender, age and general interests or hobbies.

Define your target customers in as many relevant ways as possible, but don’t add definitions for the sake of it. For example, defining by gender or hobbies for a B2B product is often not relevant and is more likely to distract you than to actually be helpful.

Solving problems

Take a step back and look at your product or service. What are the specific benefits of the product or service and what problems will it solve for your customers? Think about what makes your offer different from other similar items – why would people buy your products or services rather than your competitors’?

By thinking about the problems that your offer can solve, you’ll understand more about what types of customers will be attracted to your business and why, which will help you to target them.

Healthy competition

Check out what your competitors are doing. What are they selling, who are they targeting and what problems are they solving? Is there a gap in the market that you could fill by targeting a different group of people? If you identify a gap, make sure it’s one that is worth filling! It’s no use targeting a type of customer that won’t have an interest in your products or services.

Even if you don’t see a worthwhile ‘gap’ then consider targeting a niche that’s slightly different to your competitors. Remember, you can’t target everyone!

Find your potential audience

Now you’ve thought about who your customers are, it’s time to think about where they might hang out. Different demographics of people use different social networks and will visit different types of website. When you’ve thought about where all of your different target customers may be, you should then choose one or two social networks to focus your efforts on.

Having identified your priority social networks, think about the types of messaging you should be sharing there. If your customers are using Twitter then they’re usually looking for short, sharp and snappy messaging and interaction, whereas often a LinkedIn user will be more likely to appreciate a longer, more thought out piece of content. If Instagram or Pinterest is where your target market hangs out, then make sure your content there is very visually appealing.

Keep learning

Once you’ve defined your target markets, don’t sit still. Keep learning more about your customers, their habits and behaviours. Discover more about how they react to your brand, your products and your messaging. Each time you introduce new products or services, carefully consider who you’re looking to target and if the market is different than for your core business, consider how you’ll approach them.

Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your target markets each time you revisit your business plan. People change, so don’t stick with the same target audience if you find that they’re no longer interested in what you do – either shift your focus to another market or consider re-positioning your offer.

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Created by North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), 1 year ago, [last edited 1 year ago]