Steps and tips to discovering who your customers are
When I was thinking about starting my second business (a non-profit boutique), one of the first questions I had was: who will my customers be? I firmly believe that all business-owners should begin with some sort of business plan. Identifying, then analyzing, your target market is one of the most important aspects of this plan. Certainly, my method isn’t perfect, but the following is what I did to identify the target market for Uncovered Artistry Boutique.
1. Google your idea. For me this was a dead-end. There aren’t many (or any!) boutiques that sell solely the artisan work of domestic violence survivors. But if you do come across another company with a business idea, use this to your advantage; you just found some potential competitors. Ask yourself: How is my idea better? What can I do to stand out from these existing companies? What do I have that they don’t? Also remember that most likely (if they are successful) your competitors have identified their target market already. Study their websites. What items or services do they offer? What colors are they using on their site? Is their site fun, formal, young? Identify their style; it’s also their customers’ style. I wouldn’t even be afraid to contact the owners. Many business owners I have come in contact with are surprisingly happy to chat about their experiences. I am not saying to copy, but I am saying to use the resources that are available to you.
2. Identify other companies that might have similar customers. Because I found no boutiques similar to Uncovered Artistry, I studied retailers that were similar: eco-boutiques and fair trade retailers. I then followed the same strategy as #1, always keeping in mind that this market may not be exactly mine, but it will be close.
3. Research. This is honestly not that fun, but it is certainly necessary. Learn as much as you can about your potential customer base. You might realize that someone has already done a lot of the research for you. I found that my target market even has a name: The Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) consumers. I focused my research on the consumers who purchased fair trade, because I knew these products fall in line with what my business will sell. After a lot of Googling and library searching, I had more than 12 pages of information about my target market. I found statistics, charts, and loads of text. Don’t be afraid to utilize your library. You might be surprised how many books are written about your customers.
4. Talk. I also recommend talking with friends and family. See what they suggest. If you know your mom fits your target market perfectly, talk to her about what she likes and dislikes (hopefully you know some of this already!). You might be surprised what information you can get from those around you.
5. Collect and analyze your research. Weed out information that is irrelevant to your business. Start to think about how you can apply your research to your business. Everything that involves your business is directly affected by your target market. If your target market doesn’t use Facebook, don’t advertise on that site. If they respond more to print ads, try newspapers and magazines. If they buy purses but rarely purchase makeup, then you have a better idea of what to sell or produce.
6. Use your information to your advantage! The more you know and the more you use this knowledge, the more successful your business will be.
Uncovered Artistry Boutique