Career & Finance

A Step-By-Step Guide to Identifying Your Target Customer


There are numerous different elements that are essential to running a successful business. A marketing plan, a social media strategy, funding—the list goes on and on. But, of everything that’s involved, what’s the absolute most important? Customers.

Without people to purchase your product or service, you wouldn’t have a business. They’re required in order to survive—it’s as simple as that.

However, knowing you need customers is only half the battle. After all, blanketing the entire world with the same message will prove to be pretty ineffective. Instead, you need to identify your target customer—that specific person who will benefit most from what you have to offer.

But, who is this person? And, more importantly, how do you find him or her? Here’s your step-by-step guide to figuring it all out.


1. Analyze Your Business

If you boil it all down, every business solves a problem. Perhaps you make your living as a wedding photographer. What problem are you solving? Well, you’re the answer for couples who want special snapshots of their big day. Maybe you’re a graphic designer. In that case, you’re helping businesses grow their brands and spread their messages through visual elements.

Yes, every single business presents an answer to a problem. But, it’s up to you to determine what exactly that problem is—what do you exist to solve?

This is the first step in identifying your target customer. Once you zone in on the exact issue you address, you’ll be able to dive in and figure out who commonly experiences that problem. So, don’t skip this step. It’s the necessary groundwork for all of the others!


2. Outline Your Value Proposition

It’s important that you not only know what problem you solve, but how you solve it. This is the value proposition of your entire business. After all, telling people you can help them is one thing. But, you need to actually be able to demonstrate how your business can step in and make their lives easier or better.

Take some time to think about the specific benefits involved with what you have to offer. How do these help your customer? And, more specifically, how do these benefits inspire them to purchase from you—rather than your competitors?

While going through this process will be undeniably helpful when it comes to your marketing efforts, it’ll also offer you a great deal of insight into your target customer. Looking at the specific value of your business will help you clearly identify who does (and, more importantly, doesn’t) benefit from your business.

For example, perhaps the majority of your marketing focus up until this point has been placed on creative agency owners. But, after going through these questions and this analysis, you realize that freelancers could benefit much more from what you have to offer. That’s valuable information to use as you continue to identify the exact customer you should be zoning in on!


3. Get Specific

All too often, identifying your target customer can feel overwhelming. But, that’s typically because most of us have the tendency to want to find our target audience. We picture this giant room full of people who are eager to snatch up what we’re offering.

However, that idea can feel far too cumbersome and challenging—hence why it’s better to think about finding your target customer, rather than your target market. You want to get specific about this person (or multiple different people) that you should be focusing on.

You can even go as far as making customer profiles. These profiles will represent the different people you plan to target with your marketing and promotional efforts—you can even give them names to remember them more easily and bring a more personal touch to your communications.



To stick with the photographer example, perhaps you do both wedding photography and headshots for creative professionals. These are two vastly different services, so you’ve gone ahead and named two different customer profiles: Anna and Juliet.

Anna is a 27-year-old bride who wants gorgeous photos of her wedding day, while still being budget-conscious. Juliet is a 32-year-old website developer who wants some fun—yet polished—headshots for her business website.

Now, when you’re aiming to sell your services as a wedding photographer, you can craft your messaging as if you’re talking directly to Anna—and vice versa for the headshot side of your business. See how much simpler and more streamlined that makes things?


4. Research

Knowledge is power, and you should make it your goal to know as much about your target customer as you possibly can—outside of why they need your business.

You’ve already scratched the surface when creating your customer profiles. But, here’s your chance to dig in further to find those nitty gritty details of who this person is. Where does this person live? What does this person do in his or her free time? Where does this person hang out online? Does your target customer prefer Facebook or Instagram?

Do what you can to get your hands on as much information as possible. Here are a few suggestions for finding out more about your target customer:

  • Interviews with or surveys of your existing customers.
  • Researching your competitors.
  • Looking through your website and social media analytics.

Taking the time to do this will give you a much clearer picture of who exactly your target is, as well as how you can best reach them.

In order to effectively spread the word about your business, you first need to know who exactly you should be talking to. While that might initially sound like it requires the talents of a mind reader, it really doesn’t need to be that complicated.