The real money in any business is understanding WHO your customer is. If you blindly assume that everyone is your customer, then your message will be diluted as you work to appeal to everyone, and then in reality, attract very few.
So where do you start?
If you have been in business for awhile, your best source is your own customer database. I would suggest segmenting your list by who gives you the most business and or the best business. Use the old 80/20 rule, or Pareto principle, (80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers). Then, take a look at the 20% you segmented. What characteristics do they have in common? Are they male or female? Where do they live? What is their income? Are they married or single? What age group? If you are B2B, what is their job title? What industry are they in? How many employees? Family-owned or corporation? Annual revenue?
If you are a start up business, it is a bit more complicated than this. You definitely want to be sure about who your target market is BEFORE you do anything else. You may want to start by conducting a survey of those who you think are your customers to gauge interest in your product or service. You may want to invest in more scientific research with focus groups. The point here is to not overlook this all important step. You could end up with what you think is a great idea, and spend a ton of money getting it all started, only to found out no one else agrees with you.
If you can’t quite determine who you customer is easily, there are services that will analyze your database and provide you with this type of information. InfoUSA, (infousa.com) one of the largest, if not the largest list broker, has what they call an Advanced Customer Cloner. You upload your list. They analyze it and find more customers just like the ones you have for you.