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Understanding Your Target Market: 5 Tips that Benefit You AND Your Customers

If profitability, reputation, customer satisfaction, and a solid referral base are important to you, read on.

As small business owners, we are challenged daily with competing priorities: managing finances, hiring staff, and finding time to complete the 101 things on our to-do list.

You can ensure success by remembering to focus on the basics.

Who is your target customer and why do they buy from you?

You can also learn a lot about your customers by considering your own experiences—how do you feel about the businesses that you frequent and what makes a buying experience positive—or painful—for you?

Think about an interaction with a colleague that you found beneficial and satisfying. Perhaps it’s the Fed Ex delivery person with a great sense of humor or a vendor who’s always prompt, attentive, and accessible. Chances are you recall a good interaction and you really remember—and probably tell a lot of people—when it’s bad.

Research on customer engagement tells us that people will share a negative interaction 11 times more readily than they will a positive experience—meaning that customer engagement is crucial to successfully sustaining growth over time.

Why understanding your target market is the foundation of your business

Understanding and focusing on your target market can create and fuel your trajectory of success. Knowing who your customers are makes it easy for you to serve those customers well because you understand what they need and how your company can uniquely contribute to their success.

By communicating that you understand their needs, you show them that you are the best company to solve their challenge. By creating solutions, you further strengthen your relationship and foster a sense of collaboration and confidence.

Building partnerships within your target market helps you to remain focused on growing a sustainable, happy base of customers, which in turn makes your business thrive.

Simply put, understanding your market makes running your business easier because you give your customers reasons to return again and again.

Happy repeat customers create a sustainable cash flow and positive word of mouth referral program.

Find yours by following these steps:

  • Do your research: Simon Sinek brilliantly urges us to Start with why. Make sure you understand the challenges your target market faces and how your company solves them. By identifying their challenge or opportunity, you can also develop a powerful value proposition.

  • Check in with your customers regularly. Ask them what’s working and what’s not and what they need that you’re not providing. They’ll appreciate your interest and investment in their success.

  • Follow your competitors to validate how you create value differently.

  • Monitor your social media buzz and engagement. Make sure you know what your online reputation is and how it may (or may not) be helping you grow your brand awareness. Companies like and help you manage the overwhelming demands of social media.

  • Monitor your customer’s social media buzz and engagement so you know what’s going on with them. A simple Google alert can keep you up to date on what’s happening with your target market.

Finding success as a small business owner is much easier when you focus on the basics—starting with identifying and understanding your target market. And when your business plan includes research, planning, confirming, and executing against the needs and wants of that target market, you’ll reap the rewards of a repeat customer base that leads to a robust referral program.

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