Business Skills: How To Know Who Your Customers Are And Target Them

This informative article will tell you about several different methods of targeting new customers. Most of the methods are low cost.

How can you target your customers?

Local libraries have a large selection of information to make targeting customers easier. Go to the reference section and look for the business section. If you are unsure where the business area is, ask at the reference desk. They will be happy to help you. There are books in this section that publish business names and addresses by the NAICS codes, also known as North American Industry Classification System codes. NAICS codes, formerly called SIC codes--Standard Industrial Classification System codes--are a way to present business information in an easy-to-research manner. Once you determine what NAICS code covers the product or service that you have to offer, you can target businesses that might be interested in hearing from you. Businesses are broken down by major category, such as manufacturing, mining, and retail trade. Then, the major categories are broken down into sub-categories. For example, the retail trade is broken down into sub-categories including motor vehicle and parts dealers, furniture and home furnishings, and electronics and appliances.

What kind of information can you expect to get from these books? You will find the company name, address, phone number, and toll free number, if available. You may find their fax number, their email address, along with their web site address. You might also find the names of company officers. Some will list the estimated sales/dollar volume the company generates.

It is important to keep several things in mind when using these publications. Remember that the lists are compiled at least a year prior to the date of publication, so some of the businesses may no longer exist or the officers may have changed. If sales volume is important to you, take the number listed with a grain of salt. The company provides that information without independent verification. Also, make sure that you check all of the publications available to you as they may have slightly different listings. Be prepared to make copies""reference books can't be checked out.

What are some other methods of targeting customers?

Take that trip to the library. Write down the names of the reference publications. Then at home, use the internet to check to see if the publications offer free online information. Some may offer a free trial period or samples to entice you to sign up for their services. Take advantage of them.

Go to trade shows. Not only is this a good way to prospect, you can also meet current customers, look at new products, and check out the competition. If you do not have the time to walk the show, you can still pick up a listing of exhibitors at the show entrance. If you are not in the area of the show, ask someone who is attending to pick up an extra list for you and mail it to you. Also, the promoter of the show might supply you with a listing by mail in hopes you will be an exhibitor in the future.

Look in your local newspapers. Businesses are required to publish their names and addresses as part of getting a business license. You may be able to capture a new account that is moving into your area before they find a local supplier.

Ask your current customers for referrals. If you are doing a terrific job for your clients, they should be happy to recommend you to other companies that they know of or do business with as well.

Then there is the old fashioned, door-to-door cold call. Walk in and ask the receptionist what the company does and who the key contacts are. Don't forget to ask if the person that the receptionist suggested might be a good contact is available for a few moments without an appointment. Many receptionists can open the door, or close the door to you as well. Be nice; it always pays.

If you have money to spend, you can always buy one of the reference books for your business library. Another option would be to go on-line, sign on to your favorite search engine, and type in "NAICS" or "SIC" to research the for-pay options that are available to you. Many companies will customize their code lists specifically for your needs and periodically update you with revisions.

Good luck to you with your search for new clients. Remember, it's a numbers game. The more potential customers that you are able to contact, the more likely you are to close a new client somewhere down the road.

© High Speed Ventures 2011