Sep 20, 2012

Know Your Customer – 3 Ways to Start

You started your business to solve a specific problem. A problem you were passionate about solving. A problem your target customer would be willing to spend money to solve.

So let’s start with a simple question, “How well do you know your customer?”

Know Your Customer - 3 Ways to Start

Answering this question with a confident, “I know them better than I know myself.” is your goal. So if you are not feeling so confident or you feel like you are losing touch with your customers. I suggest three ways to get to know your customer.

1. Observation

If you own a brick and mortar business let’s start with observing your customers. Spend a few days in your business from open to close. As you do this observe the demographics of those that come into your store? Does your demographic change during the day?  As your are observing, try to group those who come into your store into 5 to 6 groups. We are going to call these groups buyer personas. You will start seeing trends. Is what your observing surprising? Are these your ideal (target) customers. You can also have your employees help in this observation project, but I suggest it starts with you, the business owner. You will want to see it for your self.

2. Review Customer Data

Whether you’re a brick and mortar or an online business, one of the easiest ways to understand your current customers is to review your customer data. This is the data you collect on signup for your product or service. It also could be the data provided by your register software or credit card company. Typically you can download your data to Excel and start your analysis. Once again your goal is to understand what are the buyer personas or customers that are coming to your business. What does a profitable customer look like? What does an unprofitable customer look like? You will be surprised what you will learn from this process.

3. Talk to Them

Once you have observed your customers & looked at the data, you should have a few groups of customers (buyer personas). You should know your ideal customer. You should have also learned about the customers that are not ideal for your business. Now, your goal is to talk to these customers. Learn their needs, learn about their problems, just talk to them. This will be your biggest asset. It will help you develop products and services that will bring you more money and lifetime customers.

What’s Next?

Once you feel like your are becoming tuned in to who your customer is and you feel like you know them better. How are you doing at solving each customers problem? As you group your customers into buyer personas, you are going to find that you will need to develop specific services and products to solve their specific needs. The process of knowing your customer is not just a one time project. This needs to be built into how you run your business. This way you will be constantly ahead of the market landscape and the onslaught of competitors trying to steal your customers, the life blood of your business.

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About the author

Burke Alder
Burke is passionate about strengthening America through small business and entrepreneurial growth. He has spent over 20 years in the pursuit of learning, developing, and executing principles and strategies that drive high-performance and explosive business growth. Burke writes about business financing, leadership, marketing, teamwork, and productivity. You can follow Burke on twitter here.


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