Learn how to market your small business to the right customers online and offline

3 minute read

New customers can come from anywhere – word of mouth, an online search, a lucky find. But as a small business owner, you shouldn’t leave customer acquisition to chance.

How to find customers

Finding new customers is a process. Here’s where you start.

Create an ideal customer profile

To figure out who your potential buyers are, you need a deep understanding of your current buyers. Specifically, you need to develop a profile of your ideal customer.

Start by determining what they’re looking for– supplies for pets, makeup, craft beer, home décor, etc. Knowing that will help a lot, but the profile must also go deeper. What are their pain points, why are they choosing you instead of another business, what interests do they have other than what you sell?

Developing an ideal customer profile is both art and science. The science comes from using the data you already have to identify customer patterns and common traits. The art comes from imagining what messaging will resonate most with people who share those attributes.

Examine your sales and shipping data

No matter what you sell, your best-selling products tell you what customers really want from your business. For example, perhaps the specialty jams and sauces from your food business are more popular than the ready-made meals; or the potted plants outsell fresh-cut flowers at your floral shop.

By analysing your sales and shipping data, you could discover that your best customers tend to be women who live in urban areas and place online orders after 10 pm. If these are the people who consistently spend the most at your business, you need to find more people who fit that profile.

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Analyse where your customers live

People who live in the same postal code often share attributes. Certain neighbourhoods attract young families, others appeal to empty nesters. Postal code data can help you determine whether customers are likely to be married or single, renters or owners, drivers or transit takers. With a postal code, you can also identify a range for household income, age and other key demographics.

This can help inform your marketing strategies and messages. The channels you use to reach your target audience, the selling features you highlight and the promotions you offer are all influenced by this information.

Target your ideal customer

Armed with sales data about your best customers, and a profile that includes some strong assumptions supported by demographic and psychographic data about their lifestyles, you can target the people you want to reach. Below are some targeting tips to try online and offline.

Find your customers on social media

You can tailor and target social media ads and boosted posts – serving them to particular users filtered by location, interests and demographics. For interests, try to include interests related to your product(s) or service(s), your competitors or attributes you think your potential customer would be drawn to. Test and refine based on the responses to your posts. Filtering information in different ways on social media will quickly give you a sense of whether your assumptions about your ideal customers are right.

Sponsor or join community events

Even though many areas are still under lockdown because of COVID-19, community events are still happening – they may be online instead of in-person. Staying engaged with your community is one way to target potential customers. Schools, charities and local business associations are still raising money and awareness for their causes. Which ones overlap with what your business cares about and your ideal customer’s interests? Those are the ones you need to support.

Try a Neighbourhood MailTM campaign

Print campaigns, like digital campaigns, allow you to target specific audiences in different areas. If your business has a brick-and-mortar location, the households within walking or driving distance could be home to potential new customers. If your offering attracts primarily young single people, you could find new customers by targeting condominiums and apartment buildings through a Neighbourhood MailTM campaign. A print campaign could support your online store, driving traffic to your site. Either way, the intent is to make a connection between your ideal customers and the area they’re from.

No matter how successful your business becomes, you’ll always be looking for new customers to propel your ongoing growth. That means developing a deep understanding of your customers is vital. By using your current data to build the foundation of a detailed customer profile, you’re setting yourself up for a strong future.

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