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Step One: Who Will My Customers Be?

Who will my customers be?Once you know what product or service you want to sell, you will want to find out who will buy it. Years of experience may have given you an excellent idea of who your customers will be. For example, if you are opening a shop that sells designer wallpaper, you may know that your customers have higher incomes and own their own homes. If you don't really know who might be interested in what you are selling, do some homework. In both cases, once you have a general idea about your customers, you will want to find out their specific characteristics and where they can be found.

Decide what you know.

The first step of all research is to write down what you already know. So write down what you now know about your customer. The next step is to write down what you don't know. You know that the customers for your designer wallpaper shop have higher incomes and own their own homes. You don't know their age, their race, the neighborhoods they live in, their religion, their education level, etc. What might motivate them to buy your product? So make a list, and then find the answers to these questions.


Determine what information is already available. Much of the information you seek is probably on-line, in this guide, in a book, in a magazine or in some other resource available through your local library. This information is called "secondary data."

For demographic information in North Carolina , please check here:

For quick facts about North Carolina provided by the U.S. Census, click here. This site also allows you to select a particular city or county within North Carolina and obtain quick facts about that specific area as well. For web sites that may lead you to the data you seek, check out the "Helpful Links" section.

Use the Customers Worksheet to help answer the question, "Who is My Customer?"

If the information you need is not currently available, you can gather it yourself. If you're opening a designer wallpaper shop, stop by the designer wallpaper shop in the neighboring town and see what its customers look like.

Develop a brief survey and take it to an area of town where people who would purchase your product shop, live or congregate. Ask the questions on the survey to some of these people to gauge their interest in your shop.

Offer coupons for a discount in your store (once it opens) if they answer the questions. You may also direct your survey questions to people on a random basis.

For an example of a survey designed to gain information about your customers, click here. Surveys can be used to find out more than information about your customers. You can use them to help you price and market your product or service and to find out more about the competition, as well. For an example of a brief market survey, click here.

Another way to increase your understanding of your potential customers is to form a "focus group." Gather together a small number of people whom you think may be interested in your business. Ask several open-ended questions and encourage a discussion. Take notes. The type of information you gather from this kind of research is known as "primary data."

Next: Who Are My Competitors? >>>


For more information, contact:

Pat Killette
Small Business Center Director
(919) 209-2015
Johnston Community College | 245 College Road | PO Box 2350 Smithfield, NC 27577
(919) 934-3051 - - Copyright © 2014, All Rights Reserved.