Small Business Marketing – Who Are Your Customers?

The single most important thing when putting together any small business marketing is to figure out who you want as customers and where you can find them!

You see, the reason a lot of advertising simply fails to produce results for you is that your advertising doesn’t get in front of the right people and say the right things to them.  If you don’t figure out WHO you want your adverts to attract, you will have to splatter your advertising all over the place and just pray that some people will call you.

So, if you are in the business of wanting to grow your customer base, start by thinking about WHO you want to attract as customers.  Once you have figured out who you want, you can put yourself in their shoes and write adverts that will speak in their language about their problems and desires.

So, let’s try a few examples, imagine you are…

  • A restaurant with a quiet Tuesday night.  Who is most likely to come?  Probably your existing customers if you are busy every other night.  So, targeting existing customers with a great offer, like 2 for the price of 1 or a free bottle of wine might do the trick.  To do this, you need to collect details of all of your customers and send them a special offer in the post, or give out a voucher with every meal for the “Tuesday night special meal deal”.
  • A dry-cleaner that goes quiet in summer.  Who do you want to attract?  How about busy professionals and office workers with suits and other clothes that need regular dry cleaning.  How can you most easily reach them?  You could try a leaflet drop into the streets of your town where the professionals live, the suburbs are another place to try.  An even better idea would be to give vouchers to quality clothes stores in your area.  The shop could put your free dry-cleaning voucher in the bag to every clothes customer.
  • A high-precision engineering company that specialises in components for high-tech industries?  Pharmaceutical equipment manufacturers, the aero industry, packing line manufacturers and so on would be a great target market for you and will respond well to direct mail that presents a compelling message about how you can meet their needs for quality, fast turnaround, prototyping and reliable delivery.
  • A landscape gardener?  The old saying that “birds of a feather flock together” goes for your customers too, and houses in the same street as today’s customer make a great target market for you.  Good signs on the van with your phone number in clear lettering will get some response.  Even better would be to back this up with a letter through 5-10 doors either side of your customer’s house, delivered by your team while they are working.  It’s incredibly cheap and easy to do and will bring results.

Hopefully from these examples you can see the benefits of thinking about WHO you want as customers and WHERE you will find them before you sit down to write an advert.

In my next post I will tell you how to craft a compelling offer that makes your target customers sit up and take notice…


  1. Pauline on June 3rd, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Your examples are so true. Today alone I saw three business owners vans which were either rusty, very dirty or both. The image that it gave me was a company that doesn’t care about it’s customers. Guess what, I noted those companies names in my mind to ensure I don’t use them. For less that 2K they could get rid of the rust and add decent digital signwriting.

    Great to see your blogs Lee – very useful.

  2. mark on June 5th, 2008 at 3:25 am

    There is a saying in marketing. "If you can not define them, you can not find them." I see too many businesses fail because they are trying to do too many things to too many people.

  3. Lee on June 6th, 2008 at 8:14 am

    @Pauline – great comments – the appearance of your business is such an important element of your marketing. If your vans are messy inside and dirty on the outside, they can’t attract much new business!

    @Mark – love the saying. It’s a great reminder that the smart way to win in marketing is to go after a niche rather than the whole market. I know a lot of businesses that have thrive because of this – you can’t be all things to all men.



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