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How to Build A Steady Stream of Customers--Step One

By Al Hanzal
Posted Monday, October 4, 2004

The success of a small business depends upon a steady stream of good customers. To build that stream of customer a business owner must examine five critical points in their business operations. This is the first in a series of five articles that examines those critical points.

Target Your Customers---The Key to Your Success

The heart of every small business is getting a steady stream of good customers. Other things can be less than perfect with your business, but without a steady stream of good customers, your business will eventually die.

If you worry about getting more customers to your business, you are not alone. The stress and worry of getting enough good customers is the number one reason small business owners lose sleep. (As a small business owner, you already feel this!)

The surest way to move your business to the next level is to focus on "who" is your customer. Who is going to open their wallets to buy your product or services?

I know you have heard this before and you may even be tempted to stop reading this article. Do not stop!

If you make a mistake about your target population or if you don't fully understand the critical details about your target population, you are building your business on sand. No amount of product quality; no amount of customer service; no amount of sale skills can overcome the wrong target population for your business. They will not buy because they are the wrong customers.

If you need more evidence, look at large corporations. They spend millions of dollars doing market research, creating focus groups, testing their markets and profiling potential customers. They do this before they begin doing product development or before they roll out a new product or service. They are successful because they understand and know their target customers.

Lack of Money and Time!

If you have at least read this far, I want to tell you there are solutions to the critical area of your target customers. The solutions don't involve the type of money or time the large corporations spend on market research. Time and money are precious resources to the small business owner.

The following is an easy and fun exercise you can use to get a better understanding of the right customers for your business. Complete the exercise. Then each week for a month review and add more details to your results. Then review your results the first day of each of the month to confirm they are still valid.

This will not require a lot of time. It will not require any money. It will require you to put on your thinking cap and be creative. The reward will be a stronger foundation for your future business.

Profiling Exercise

You have heard about racial profiling, criminal profiling, and terrorist profiling. I want you to have some fun and create a customer profile for your business. If you were an FBI agent, how would you profile the typical customer that fits your business? Here are some of the characteristics you must include in your profile:


* Age, sex, location, homeowner, etc

Buying habits

* How many are there
* Where do they shop
* How do they shop
* When do they shop

Buying motivations

* What problem do they want solved
* What benefits do they want from you
* What features are they looking from your product
* What do they like and dislike about your industry
* What special circumstances must be present for them to buy from you
* What guarantee do they need from you

Follow up services

* What do they want from you after the sale
* What do they expect from the relationship to remain loyalty to your business

To help obtain the answers to these questions, think about your last ten customers, or ten of your best customers. If you want to add real depth to your answers, call up five of your best customers and ask them the question directly. Tell them you are trying to improve your business and you need their help. Give them some small token of your appreciation for helping you with this task. Let them help shape your business! They will be honored that you asked for their help.

If you have other employees or sales persons in your business, ask them to complete the same exercise and put together a profile of your typical customer.

There are level and levels of details to these profiling questions. That is why you periodically need to come back to the same questions and add more details.

To move your business forward, you must have a through knowledge of your buying customers. Completing the profiling exercise of your best typical customer is a fun and easy way to establish a solid foundation for the next stage of your business. For a longer, free report on targeting your customers, send an email to with the subject "free Report on Targeting Your Customers."

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