Setup your target customer database

Once you have roughly created your model target customer profile it is time to setup your target customer database. Start to collect addresses, contact information and business data from potential customers which fit into your target customer profile. This post will give you some tips how to setup and update your target customer database.

Of course you can sit and wait until your potential target customers come to your door and impose an order to you. But the better way is to be active and start some marketing campaigns on different marketing channels at an early stage of your business start up. Therefore it is important that you get aware and know your customers before. In order to have a concrete example let’s say that you have come to the conclusion that your perfect customers are furniture stores.

Target customer database for your marketing campaigns

I don’t want to go in to deep into the technical setup of a database. When I started my small business I have created (and still have) my customer database in Microsoft Access. You can also use Excel, Open office or any other database software that suits you best.

Create your database template and include fields for at least the complete company name, complete contact details like office address or postal address, phone, fax, website and email-address. My own customer database has further fields for name of a contact person, information about the company size and information about the offered services.

When the database template is finished you can start the research for your potential customers. At first I would start to collect all potential target customers from your hometown. Use the Yellow pages but preferably the Internet research. I used to collect contact information from directories in the past, but nowadays I harvest contact details from the corporate websites only. This is due to the fact that the corporate websites will have the most up to date state of the data.

Customer research for your small business

Fill in all mentioned information precisely. To stick to my example above, fill in all address data of furniture stores from your hometown and the surroundings. Depending upon the kind of service or product you offer you can also collect nationwide addresses or even worldwide. When you use Google for your address research don’t stop on page two. Just go ahead to page twenty or beyond. You will find many addresses of potential customers which are very interesting though they do not rank high in Google. The more furniture stores you find the more promising your marketing campaigns will be.

As additional company information you can include if the furniture store is a one location company or if they have several depots nationwide. Also – if available – you may add information about their delivery program. All this will help you later to aim for a highly homogeneously customer segmentation, which makes it easier to create a convincing service or product for your small business niche.

The additional company information I have mentioned are just proposals. For your customer database you should include the information which are important for your small business niche.

Get to know your potential customers

From my own personal experience I can recommend to you to make the address research to a continuous and repeating routine of your work schedule. Make it to a regular habit to collect and update the address data of your potential customers. I plan one day per week for my address research and update. This is necessary because from the 10k addresses in my customer database there is always a change.

Another personal tip from me is to do this work on your own. Off course it is easy to assign a VA (Virtual assistant) or a student for this work. But there is a special reason why I think that it is very helpful to do this on your own: You get to know your potential customers from the first entry in your database and you learn immediately to segment them.

If you haven’t done yet start to create and fill your target customer database now. This will definitely help you to grow your small business.

If you already have a customer database for your small business I would love to learn more about how you do your customer research. Please feel free to leave your tips below.

About Carsten

Carsten is running his own small business successfully since 1995. He has created a highly focussed and well accepted service company in a small niche of the construction business. Learn more about him here, contact him here and on Twitter. Please feel free to share your thoughts about this post and leave a comment below.

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