Customer Profiling

Many small business entrepreneurs are stumped when it comes to
competitive analysis.  Of course, the competition keeps their company
secrets as close to their heart as possible, but there are ways for you to
determine competitive pressures through the effective use of customer
customer and know what they like and dislike about their user experience.  
This is where customer profiling can be very useful.  Find out as much as
you can about your value chain by researching customer demographics.  
Who buys?  What kind of company or individual are they?  Why do they
buy?  Is it the only solution out there?  Does the competitor have a stronger
brand recognition? What do their customers care about?

The more that you can get inside the head of your potential customer, the
more fuel you will have to create solution sales with a strong Go to Market
Strategy.  Customer profiling includes identifying the industry you will be
addressing and what their group behavior may include, what is the dynamic
of the geographical area in which they are located and unique or seasonal
buying patterns in that area (such as how the weather might affect sales
cycles and other factors).  You can create your own customer profiling tool
just by gathering data and categorizing them in this manner.  Online
software surveys are a great way to gather information.  Monitoring blogs
related to that niche is another great research tool that costs virtually
nothing.  As an entrepreneur, you should be able to think outside the box on
competitive analysis and use customer profiling data to your advantage.

Pamela Millar, CEO
                             Bridgemakers Consulting