Many small-business owners make the mistake of thinking that their current customer base is their target market. This kind of thinking can limit sales because it doesn’t lead you to new customers. Expand your thinking by exploring target market identification techniques that work for large corporations. Develop a profile of your target customer by looking beyond your current customer to other possible groups that share a common characteristic with the people you already sell to.
Identify non-customers. These are people who have never purchased from you. Instead of defining your current customers, examine people who are not customers but could be interested in your product or service. Think about demographics such as age, education level, income, occupation, gender and race as elements that contribute to people’s tastes, and determine if your products or services could appeal to people in those groups with the tastes you cater to.
Define your first-time buyers. People who have bought from you once comprise the group of first-time buyers. Examine the same elements you examine for non-customers, and determine what qualities your first-time buyers share with your non-customers. This group offers
you the opportunity to gain insight into ways you can convert non-customers into regular customers. Discover what you did to attract first-time buyers and what tastes and values this group brought to the exchange.
Profile your regular customers. Regular customers make up the group of people who have purchased from you more than once. List the demographics for your regular customers, and compare the non-customer and first-time buyer groups to the regular customer group. Ask yourself what characteristics they have in common.
Expand your target market based on common demographics. Select the elements shared by your non-customers, first-time buyers and regular customers, and develop a profile based on those elements. This is your true target audience. You will note that some demographic elements that you thought were essential to your target audience do not apply to all groups, and this knowledge can broaden your thinking. For example, if you originally saw your target audience as teens who plan to go to college, you may discover that current college students are part of your target audience, as are older adults returning to college. Your assumptions about age might have limited your marketing focus too much.