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I have now determined the area where I intend to start my business, I have determined who my competitors are and found that my idea is viable.

Now I must picture in my mind what my customer looks like, who he is and write down his profile. This profile will come in very handy when I try to find out how many customers interested in my product or service there are in my market, also, it will help me reach my clients with more accuracy when I advertise my business.

For example, the customers of a high priced custom stereo equipment manufacturer have been described as: the average-income hobbyist who does without a car and borrows to finance his hobby, the music lover with money to burn and the wealthy buyer indifferent to music but pleased by the prestige of high-end ownership. This is about as compact a customer profile as I will find, with the exception of "everybody" that would apply only to funeral parlors.

According to the product or service I intend to market, the definition will vary, however, I am concerned with similarities and common traits in my customers, what is common to customers who will buy my products? Is it sex, age, income, social status or some other characteristics. It can be and most probably is a combination of several traits.

The more precisely I can identify my future client, the easier it will be for me to get my idea accepted later, as I will be addressing the right persons.


- What level of education does my customer have?

The impact of the level of education of my customers will be important if I sell poetry and art books, but not if I have a barbershop.


- What is the employment status of my customer?

If I sell business forms or make personal income tax returns the fact that my customer is a professional, a business owner, an executive, a clerk or unemployed makes a difference.


- other characteristics I find important in my customer? Is he a car owner (if I run a carwash)? Is he a home owner, an apartment dweller? Is he athletic, intellectual? Does he like the outdoors, gardening, building things? Does he have hobbies, collecting, fixing or watching and studying?

As I can see, there are numerous questions I must ask myself to describe my customer. The answer depends in part on the product or service I will offer, and on whether I will look for a small very select market, a restrictive market (for men or women only) or a mass market (for everybody).

The small very select market will respond to expensive, rare and very high quality products or services. There will be few clients. Age, sex, home ownership, etc. create restrictive markets when I exclude one or the other characteristic. This reduces the number of customers in the market (men or women or homeowners or accountants or joggers only). This reduces the number of customers but there are still many left.

In the next stages of my market research, I must try to be as thorough as possible, because, according to the answers I get to my research, my whole business will be affected.


- Who is my customer? The answer to this question must provide me with a description (a profile) of the persons who have a need for or want what I will offer. Their need or want is what makes them my potential clients, their common bond.

What I want to find out about these special people are the traits, qualities and characteristics common to all of them. Lack of knowledge about the customer is probably the principal cause of failure in new microbusiness. This ignorance leads to waste in time, effort and in precious money spent to attract the wrong customer or in the wrong methods of promotion.

To realize how important knowing my customer is, I must remind myself that the whole purpose of being in business is to satisfy my customer and, to do so properly and successfully, I must get to know him quite well.


- Is my customer male, female or everyone?

That I sell ice-cream or curtains will make a difference.


- In what age group is my customer?

Selling diapers, snow removal or care for the aged relate to different age groups.


- Is my customer married, single, divorced?

If I operate a dating service or a baby sitting service I am not looking for the same type of customer.


- My customer's economic status?

A double income household has a different lifestyle and different needs than an 18 year old on his first job.


Finally the mass market, the one that caters to everybody (soap), to all the men (shaving), to all the women (beauty products), to all the children (toys).

To help me with my definition of my customer, at the end of this chapter, there is an example of a worksheet to collect the information which will define my customer.