How to Identify the Target Customer

If you identify who your produce/service is meant to benefit, then your strategy in promoting and marketing will be directed specifically to them. The whole Internet cannot be your market. 

When I registered the Website for my small business, I created a Logo which I believe represents my ‘brand’ – my promise to deliver an excellent product to small business and home-based business owners. My product has qualities that are equal to those of similar businesses but is differentiated by several enhanced features and benefits.

What does my product do?

I help ‘small business owners’

who are looking to achieve ‘internet marketing success’

but are struggling with ‘attracting customers’’ .

I do this by ‘showing them how to target offline customers and motivate them to become online customers.’


When identifying customers to target, you will need to ensure that your ‘brand’ appeals to a specific customer profile that will relate favourably to the response you are seeking during the ‘call to action’ process.

These three elements must be aligned in order to market and promote any product/service successfully – that is, the brand must be strong enough to move the targeted customer to action.  That action is to ‘buy’.

Let’s look closely at these three elements:

Tip 1 – Analyse ‘Brand’ Appeal


Does your brand differentiate you from the competition?  Do you know if anyone finds it appealing?


A product/service is identified by a ‘brand’ which is a name, logo, slogan (and more) such as:

  • Name – Coca Cola, Pepsi, Apple
  • Logo – Nike logo
  • Slogan – “The best or nothing” (Mercedes Benz)
  • Slogan “Job is Number One” (The Ford Motor Corporation)

A recent Forbes Magazine article by Scott Goodson states:

Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise mark as opposed to a trademark. Products have life cycles. Brands outlive products. Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience. Brands are valuable … when Kraft bought Cadbury for $19.5 Billion what did they buy? The chocolate?  The factories? The recipes? The candy makers? No they bought the brands.

The best branding today is based on a strong idea. The best brands have remarkable creativity in advertising to help them break through people’s wall of indifference to create brand heat and product lust.[1]

And so you see, consumers buy ‘brands’, not products/services – and they remain loyal to brands. 

A strong ‘brand’ evokes emotion (a sensory feeling, not logic) in people to move them to ‘action’ when they ‘perceive’ that the product/service will solve their problems and make their lives better.  That action is the motivation to ‘buy’ something of added value.


When you speak face-to-face, you will need to use the right verbal and non-verbal communication skills to present credible evidence that appeals to the self-interest of the audience and make them believe you – to ‘perceive’ you as trustworthy.  You will need to help generate an emotional commitment to get them to understand, accept or act on the details presented.


But how much do you know about these people?


Tip 2 – Know your Customer

Obviously, we recognize that only a limited number of people will buy our product/service, so the challenge is to determine who they are and target them.

Mercedes Benz targets: “Middle aged people of middle to high incomes.  The brand is not popular with young people because it is expensive and is hard to get insurance at a young age.  Mercedes Benz does not produce low priced vehicles hence effectively cutting off consumers with low income.  Mercedes products also target both males and females as they design cars to fit both male and female specifications”[2]


With the ‘brandcreated, we would want to visualize a profile of a customer to help in understanding the background of the group of people to target – their location, primary/secondary market segments and their demographics in general.

(1)      Define Location, Primary and Secondary Markets

  • Where are they located – locally, nationally or internationally?
  • Which location is primary market and which is secondary market?

Well, without a budget to travel – we must speak face-to-face to local audiences, which is therefore the primary market.

  • What is the population of the primary market?

I found out from my City’s latest census that the population is 175,779.

(2)      Analyse Demographics and Lifestyles

The more clearly I can understand and define the target customer and identify the precise needs, the better my product/service can address their needs.

I need to conduct further surveys in the ‘primary location’ to get details on:

  • Market segmentation
    • Age, disabilities, education, ethnicity/religion, family status, gender, income bracket, marital status, occupation, spending habits


  • Values and lifestyles
    • Activities and interests: organizations, sports, shopping, reading, social media?


  • Attitudes and beliefs: opinionated, biases, sympathetic, environmentalist?


  • Decision making: what are the sources – internet, newspapers, books, TV


  • Leaders or followers: first responders or followers?


  • Lifestyle: conservative, trendy, big spenders?


  • Social class: lower, middle, upper?


  • Values: what do they value most?



  • What about their shopping patterns?  People are guided by three reasons to buy:


1)          To satisfy basic needs

2)          To solve problems

3)          To make people feel good (it may improve quality of life but is not essential)


Conduct a shopping pattern survey to provide answers to:


  • How many of the three reasons does my product/service satisfy?


  • Where do these people shop – online, over the phone, or pick up from a store?


  • Will the product/service inspire a need for instant gratification or will they wait for a few days?


  • What do they like or dislike about this type of product/service?


  • Where does this product/service fit into their lifestyles?


  • How will they benefit from this product/service?


From the results of these surveys I wrote down the attributes of a ‘prototype’ of the target customer, and determined the emerging market numbers.


(3)      Describe Customer Profile


“My target customer is a middle-class man in his 40s or 50s who is married with children, makes between $80,000-120,000 annually, likes to try new products/services and shops online for electronic gadgets”.

This is the profile I will keep in mind when marketing to prospective customers as it will help to create a parallel relationship between me and them based on common thought, interest and feelings.

(4)      Analyse Number of Customers in the Emerging Market

It is important to have a feel for the number of customers I will be targeting, so I get my family and friends to conduct one final survey for me to estimate the emerging market.

The survey results showed that from my Primary market population of 175,779, one-third (58,593) is loyal to the competition, 67,186 have not yet purchased the product/service from anyone, or heard of my product/service; and 50,000 cannot differentiate my company from the others.

These numbers tell me that I can target everyone – including the competition!

  • Numbers Disappointing?

If the numbers had proven to be very small and the customers were willing to spend only a few dollars per year on my product/service then I would have gone back to the drawing board, reviewed my business plan and determined a wider target market.

If necessary I would have gone back to the Demographics to include more characteristics in order to get a bigger share of the market and rewrite the customer profile accordingly.

Tip 3 – Fish where the Fish are!

Now with a Profile of the targeted customer, there is a good chance that members of my primary location meet and communicate in the ‘offline’ world. They could be members of a professional association, business organization or networking group.

Whatever their common interest, I decided to ‘Fish where the Fish are’ in order to present a face-to-face speaking engagement to them.

  • I contacted the Event Organizer in my Business Networking Group and offered to speak at an upcoming session – pro bono.

BTW If you are not a member of a ‘group’ – find one to join now.

  • The biggest benefit from this proposal is that the Organization does all the work. It will announce the event, alert the press, share my name and speech title, send out emails and they will fill the seats.


  • Besides, the audience sees me as an expert – sanctioned by the organization. 


My next task is to plan and prepare the presentation, to be included in my next post.


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