Before selling a product or service, it’s important to know the market you will be entering. Research includes finding out what potential customers need, what they want and don’t want and why. Your goal is to build a demographic profile of your customers.

A research or business library can prove helpful for studying the manner in which other small businesses have approached their target audiences.

Surveys, questionnaires and focus groups are among the many ways to obtain original data on potential customers. You can also get basic information when a customer calls for your services, visits your facility or browses your Web site.

When customers make a purchase or any kind of inquiry, you can find out where they heard about your business. In this manner, you can better plan — and track — your marketing efforts.

via Mary Sullivan.