One of the most basic things we should do in business is to identify the group of people that is most likely to buy our product or service. That’s not a profound insight, I know, but because it is a “duh” moment, I wonder why more business people don’t really do it? How you define your audience is something that influences everything from marketing to product. Understanding how those customers and potential customers interact with your business is incredibly basic and yet it often goes undone.
One reason I hear for that, particularly among earlier stage businesses, is that it’s expensive. Putting aside what I’m about to tell you, it’s critical no matter the cost. While we may have self-driving cars, there are no self-operating businesses of which I’m aware. However, the cost isn’t really an issue. There is a lot of free infomration available from the government. Maybe you thought all the Census Bureau did was count us all once a decade – check out their free stuff and I’ll bet you’re surprised. Do you have analytics on your website? Google Analytics is free, at least until you become a high-traffic site (and you won’t mind paying at that point). Finally, if you’re a physical location, you can ask people to fill out surveys about basic demography. Heck, you can have an employee jot down who they see. Online questionnaires are easy to implement and also are free.
My point is this. I rail from time to time in this space about the overwhelming amounts of data we confront these days. It’s often hard to make sense of it and we often get conflicting information. That, however, is a far better outcome than having NO data. Getting to know our customers and their behavior, likes, media habits, who they are, where they are, and why they buy from us is an important part of business. It’s not optional!