When you first start your business you may or may not have a clue as to who your ideal customers are.

That’s ok. As you go through your branding, competition research and customer research you will get to know them.

Since today is Get to Know Your Customers Day I thought I would cover some ways to find and get to know your ideal customers.

So where do you start looking for your ideal customers?

First let’s start with some branding questions.

Do you create jewelry or other handmade items that you would wear or use?

Would your ideal customers have similar tastes and/or lifestyle choices as you?

If you answer yes then perhaps you can start with a list of your tastes and lifestyle choices so you can get an idea of who your ideal clients are. That will help you find them online and in your area so you can connect further.

Google Search is your friend.

Google is the gatekeeper to all of the places your ideal customers use online.

Not just websites they visit but their habits, forums, hashtags, questions they are asking and more.

To make searching on Google easier there are some secret search functions you can use.

Using terms such as “forum”, “site”, “#” for hashtags, “intitle”, and more help Google to narrow down your search to what you really want to see.

For example you can search for forums in any topic by typing “forum:topic” in to the search bar.

This will then bring me a list of forums covering the topic I am looking for such as crafts, beading, knitting and so on.

Google Search for "forum:crafts"

Make use of these search functions to narrow down your search. For more search operators check out Google Guide.

What are you looking for?

So what happens when you find these ideal customers?

You want to get to know them. I don’t mean just connect with them, that’s of course something you should do.

Before connecting with them though you snoop.

Look for questions they have, suggestions they make, choices they make, anything that will help you not only get to know your ideal customers but anything that will give you more ideas of what to create for them and how to sell it to them.

What if you can’t find what you’re looking for?

Say you find where they hang out but they aren’t asking questions or making suggestions.

This is part of your chance to interact.

Ask questions and see how they respond. Ask for suggestions. Don’t be shy. Don’t be pushy about selling, this is about building relationships and getting ideas.

If you can’t find where they get together then maybe you are using the wrong search terms, have a new product or idea that needs a whole new way to connect with and reach people or sadly, maybe even something people didn’t want or need.

These things happen.

It sucks!

But if you know your audience you will better be able to judge what they want and how they want it.

More advanced techniques.

If you already have an email list or access to your audience and are looking for feedback, suggestions or ideas you can use tools like surveys to get that from them.

Or perhaps if you have a new product you can create your own forums or groups (like Facebook, Google +, etc…) to connect with them.

But for just starting out use the resources available to you.

Use Etsy forums and teams, use Facebook groups and other forums specific to your audience and craft.

The more you learn about your ideal customer the better you will be at meeting their needs and in turn making sales.

Naturally, there are more things you can do such as research your competition in depth and other related businesses to spy on but those can happen over time.

There are also off line groups like meetups, networks and associations but when starting out you may not be ready for those and they may not immediately meet your needs so stick with online to get started if events aren’t your thing just yet.

Have you used a technique to learn more about your ideal audience? Share with me in the comments what you have done or if there’s something I didn’t list here to try.