Know Your Customers

Target your Web site at those customers who want what you have, who you can service, and who will look on the Internet for it.

When it comes to targeting your customers, there is nothing better than following the sales funnel method on which you can read more on, as the more information you have on your customers, the more likely it is that you will be able to address their needs effectively.

Most small businesses should have given some consideration to the nature of their market at some stage, and you will usually be able to transfer the knowledge gained in that process.

You can tightly focus the aim of your Web site through identifying three levels of access to your customers, namely ‘market interest’, ‘market service’ and ‘market access’.

Market Interest

The first step is to establish who is likely to be interested in the products or services that you provide. At this stage, it is not important whether you are able to meet their needs, or whether they are likely to come to you rather than any other supplier.

Avoid narrowing this list down too strictly – keep your options open by considering a broad range of markets. Your products and services may have direct and indirect sales markets outside those with which you normally deal.

Once you have created a list of potential customers, read it through and try to add any related customer types who might conceivably be interested in your company. It is well worth keeping your aim very broad to start with, whilst staying in the realms of probability.

If you can sell products to garden centres, for instance, perhaps you could also be selling direct to related tradesmen, such as landscape gardeners. Maybe your business is not currently placed to meet their needs on a regular basis, but you could meet them with some changes to the way your business works.

It may well be that your business currently cannot realistically meet their demands, but what if you were to add the flexibility and reach of a Web site into your business model?

Market Service

Decide which part or parts of the potential market you are best equipped to serve. There will be some market sectors identified in the first phase that you are simply unable to deal with effectively at the moment, due to any number of factors, whether they are economical, environmental, or geographical.

A small building supplies business may reasonably choose to exclude large-scale construction companies, for instance, as they feel unlikely to be able to meet their needs.

Market Access

From the remaining list, establish who is likely to be accessing the Internet to meet their requirements. These are the key members of the customer base to target through your Web site: they want what you have, you can supply it in a suitable manner, and they will be looking for it on the Internet.

Some parts of the potential market that you would like to service, and that have needs you feel you are well placed to meet, are still unlikely – for any number of reasons – to visit a Web site to carry out their business. The market you are able to service will be divided into three groups:

  • highly likely to visit your site
  • very unlikely to visit your site
  • the grey area in between

You should make some allowance for those potential customers in the grey areas, but not focus on them too heavily. Adding a Web site to your business may help to bring those consumers within realistic reach. It will be worth looking at these three groups again later, as part of a periodic review of your Web site’s effectiveness. Perhaps you can build on your Web site later to draw those consumers into your customer base.


A Web site does not need to be established in one fell swoop: by dividing your site into phases or development stages, each one built on the previous, you can broaden the scope of your Web site to meet new and changing demands.

Provided you meet the demands of your key Internet customers: those who are interested in buying the products or services you offer, that you are actually able to service, and who are likely to use the Internet to reach you, the rest of the marketplace can wait.

jon m wilson Written by:

As half of the team behind, I am a serial starter of things, beginner of projects. I work in bits and in bytes, in words and paragraphs; I work in wood, metal, and paper, in fabric and in leather; I work in fits and in starts. Most of all I work intermittently and inconsistently.

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