In today's economy, small businesses are working as hard as ever to be competitive among consumers. While having a competitive edge is important, some companies can get distracted by focusing on promotions, new product offerings, or just trying to maintain a steady revenue stream. Whatever the case, it is essential to know who your target audience is. After all, they are who will keep your business alive long after the one-off customers have left the building.

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me how the fine dining restaurant she works for has altered the price point of their menu in order to increase revenue during typically slow weeknights. Although this has increased traffic during weeknight peak periods, it has also attracted a customer that is in direct conflict with their target audience. This, in turn, has impacted the perception of the restaurants brand and the relationship with their current customers.

Knowing your target audience is one of the most important aspects of operating a successful business. Neglecting or ignoring this can lead to confusion among customers, reduce the effectiveness of marketing efforts, and damage your brand reputation. Below are a few insights to consider in regards to identifying your target customer.

Visualize your ideal customer
Take the time to accurately visualize what your ideal customer looks like. If they walked though the door right now, what would you see? Be as specific as you can and focus on the details.

Look in the mirror
Once you know what your ideal customer looks like, take a look at your current clientele. Do these two entities reflect one another? If not, it may be time to reevaluate your business model and see where the disconnect is.

Embrace yourself
Too often, businesses try to be everything to everyone and end up being nothing to nobody. Knowing your target audience helps to reinforce your brand identity and business model. If you're business caters to the bargain shopper, then add-on services and loyalty programs may not be for you. Likewise, if you're billing yourself as a luxury service, offering discounts may not resonate with or be a concern for the clientele you're after.

For more information about the importance of identifying your target audience check out these resources:
How to define your target audience the right way
The Importance of Really Knowing Your Target Audiences