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Identify New Prospects: Creating the Ideal Customer Questionnaire
1/1/2009 -

Who is your ideal customer? Ask yourself these 10 key questions about your current customer base and your answers will spell success.

Once you start to examine what your most profitable customers really “look like,” you'll find it easier and easier to request a highly targeted list containing the most valuable leads. These days, businesses can create direct mail lists based on everything from income to geography to hobbies and interests. Once you know which segments to target, getting your message to the right audience will be a piece of cake.

10 Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Current Customer Base

For B-to-B Marketers

What position do the majority of your current customers hold?
What industries do you typically sell to?
What size is the typical business you sell to—mom and pop businesses or national corporations?
What markets do your customers serve?
Where do they buy? Sell? Manufacture their products?
Who do they compete with?
What is the current state of their market? Industry?
What do they think is important in business?
How do the majority of your customers do business with you? (phone/in person/on the Web; quick transactions/takes time to negotiate; pays early/on-time/at 30 days; and so on.)
How often do your current customers purchase your goods or services?

For B-to-C Marketers

What demographics do your customers share? (Think about age, race, income, gender and other identifying “group” characteristics.)
Where do they live?
What is their income range?
What do they like most about you and your business, products and services?
Do they currently do business with any of your competitors? Why?
What are their priorities as shoppers—convenience, location, selection, price?
Have a significant number of your customers just experienced an event: moving to a new home, having a baby, retiring?
When do your customers buy your goods or services—what time of year, season, month or even day is the busiest part of your business cycle?
Do your customers live close to your business, work close to your business, or both?
What is your customer's communication method of choice: in person, telephone, e-mail or even fax?

Use all your resources to find your answers, from your current customer files to the anecdotal information your employees gather every day on the job. Then, boil the answers down in to the five most important characteristics that your best customers share. Once you've identified your ideal prospects, the right list professional can help you reap a higher Return-On-Investment for your marketing dollars, and your customer base is sure to grow.

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