The goal of your research should be to find out who is using your services currently, and who will be in the future, as well as their reasons for doing so. Many different factors can impact whether a person buys a service and which service they ultimately buy like age, values, or income level. Consider where and when the customer will have a need for/use your service or might hear about it.
Now this may seem like a lot of work to do upfront, but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it.
You might be asking yourself, why is it so important for me to do this research before starting my business? It just doesn’t seem that necessary, and there’s only so many hours in a day. Shouldn’t I be spending my time on more important things like hiring more employees or marketing my business?
Well, here’s why conducting customer research before starting your business is worth spending your time on. With customer research, you’ll ultimately:
Save Time and Money: With comprehensive customer research in your arsenal, you’ll be able to start promoting your business to the right people immediately. This saves you time and money because you’re not guessing what your customers may think or marketing to the wrong people.
Save Headaches: In terms of marketing, customer research is the closest you can get to being psychic. Why rack your brain trying to figure out how to best communicate with your audience when the data that customer research yields will help to answer all these questions.
With customer research, you’ll know exactly where to advertise, what to put on your website and other marketing materials, and even how to speak to customers’ specific needs when closing deals.
Customer research can be done through a variety of methods like interviews, focus groups, surveys, reading social media and online forums, and even checking online reviews for other businesses.
Below, you’ll find a full list of tools you can use to guide you while researching your audience. You’ll find templates to fill out to collect this information, websites with these demographics listed for specific areas online, and how to create online surveys to collect customers’ opinions – and incentivize customers to fill those surveys out.
There are a lot of factors to consider when researching your customers. But these popular demographics can then help you pin down who your customers are:
Typically, trade businesses should avoid targeting people under 23 because they don’t own their own homes. If you live in an area with a lot of rentals, it’s better to connect with property managers in your area. Beyond this, you’ll want to identify your customers’ life stages. Are they new homeowners, new parents, retiring, etc.?
Gender and ethnicity can determine how people spend their time online – for example, women tend to be more active on social media than men, and POC are more likely to be active on mobile apps than websites.
Location tends to play a large role when people adopt new technologies and how much time they spend online. For example, in 2019 Pew Research found that only 66% of adults in rural communities used at least one social media site compared to 76% in urban areas.
If your target location has a large population that speaks another language, it’s essential to use plain and clear wording on your website and in your marketing materials. Offering marketing materials or webpages in this language can also go a long way in building trust and loyalty with customers.
Your customer’s occupation provides insight into their daily habits. If someone commutes or drives between jobs, they may listen to the radio and regularly see billboards. Someone in an office, meanwhile, may spend more time online checking their email and social media during downtime.
Beyond purchasing power, income sheds light on your customers’ needs. For example, lower-income households may require financing and often rely on their smartphone as their only internet connection. Families with higher incomes, meanwhile, may use multiple devices to access the internet. And a low employment rate may indicate instability in income.
Of all income levels, individuals with lower income levels also spend the most time online, are most strongly influenced by family and friends’ recommendations, and tend to prefer straightforward, clear language and sincerity instead of overly clever copy. If you live in a low income area, several local government organizations and nonprofits can help subsidize the cost of your services and unlock a consistent stream of business. For example, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) uses private contractors to provide weatherization services for low-income families.
Affluent populations, meanwhile, are often busy and the go. So, these populations typically have less leisure time and are more challenging to reach. They also tend to be willing to spend more and value personalization and novelty.
The household composition can reveal a lot about your customers’ priorities. If a customer has young children, they may be more mindful of their expenses, see repairs as an investment, or require financing.
Meanwhile, households with adult children may be focused on legacy and passing down their home to their children or increasing their home’s value to sell it as they near retirement.
How do your customers typically spend their downtime? Are they a homebody or out and about? Do they attend church, school programs, or local events? Which local businesses do they visit? What do they read (websites, blogs, news sources)?
Customer’s hobbies are jumping-off points for connecting with them. Leave business cards at the gym. Hang up posters on your church bulletin. Sponsor local events. Place ads in local newspapers.
Are your customers online? Are they tech-savvy? What do they do online? Which social media websites do they usually use? If you’re unsure about your audience’s internet habits, these demographics show the most popular social media websites by gender, age, ethnicity, and geographic location. Are there any influencers in your area like popular bloggers?
What influences your customers to make a decision? Are there social factors at play like family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or organizations? Are there any economic factors at play (are they actively searching for deals, attitude towards spending)? Psychological factors (social responsibility/convenience)?
Now that we’ve covered all the different facets of customer research, you’re ready to get started!