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How to Identify Your Ideal Customers: A Blueprint for Small Businesses

When you own a small business, reaching as many customers as possible is crucial. But unlike big-box mega-stores, you can't cast as wide a net. Instead, the key is to identify your potential ideal customers and target as many of them as you can afford.

Identifying Ideal Customers

Your first step is to figure out who your ideal customers are. The more you know about them, the easier they'll be to find and market to.

Your Best Customers

Start with your current customer base; they will offer the most insights. There are numerous ways you can learn more about your customers. Here are several ideas:

  • Conduct customer surveys by mail, comment cards, your website, or social platforms.

  • Hold customer focus groups with your best customers.

  • Monitor online ratings and reviews.

  • Talk to customers one-on-one.

Creating Customer Personas

Once you collect all your customer persona data, create your profiles. Here's an example of a customer persona for a bicycle retailer:

  • Mike is a 55-year-old professional with a household income of $150,000. He’s married with adult children and lives in the suburbs. Fitness is a priority for him, and he spends $5,000-$10,000 annually on high-end bicycles and accessories. He wants functional, high-quality products that convey status.

Depending on your business type and customer base, you may have to create multiple customer personas.

Negative Customer Personas

Building a negative buyer persona can be helpful. You'll save time and money by not marketing to people who aren't a good fit for your product or service.

Finding More Ideal Customers

Using your customer personas, design your marketing and sales strategies to attract your ideal customers by:

  • Advertising in the media is where they spend the most time.

  • Creating marketing messages that address their pain points.

  • Using social media to share content relevant to their concerns.


Identifying your ideal customers will help you weed out less-than-ideal customers—those that are harder to sell to and aren't as profitable. By focusing on your ideal customers and discovering the best way to communicate with them, your business will grow faster with less effort, becoming more successful and profitable.

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