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Marketing 101 - Who is your Customer? by Elizabeth Slater


Marketing 101:
Who is your Customer?
by Elizabeth Slater

Who Is Your Customer?

Elizabeth Slater - In Short Direct MarketingDo you know who your customers are so you can effectively and cost efficiently market to those customers? Most small business owners don’t go into business because of their love of marketing. They do it because they have a passion for or expertise in for the products or services they market and sell.  Though in order to create a marketing plan (and every small business should have one) you are going to need to know who your audience is and what avenues those people use to college information.

Most businesses and services get visitors of different ages, genders, demographics and psychographics. The question is does one group outnumber others by enough to make a difference? For example a doctor specializing in gerontology or a company that sells hearing aids will have a larger proportion of older customers than younger ones. In those cases it is much easier to ascertain who your customers are.

What do you want to be on the look out for.  Primarily and by far the easiest groups to divide your customers into are the generational groups.

What generation do most of your customers belong to?

Silent Generation: BORN: 1925 – 1945 AGE: 69 – 89

Baby Boomers: BORN:1946 – 1964 AGE:50 – 68

Generation X: BORN: 1965 – 1981 AGE: 33 – 49

Millennials: BORN: 1982 – 2002 AGE: 2 – 32

Start thinking about which of these groups uses your products and/or services and in what percentages.

Do you see more older people or younger people?

Are you in a college area where you are likely to see more Millennials? 

Are most of your customers Baby Boomers? 

What are your assumptions as to who your customers are…and do you know for


What makes the generations different?

Each generation and gender has different ways of assessing evaluating and positioning products. Each generation has some shared life experiences. These life experiences can be economic, social and political. Although because of the stretch in years some events that had a deep affect on an earlier part of a generation (e.g. the death of John F. Kennedy for the early Baby Boomer generation) will not have much affect on the later part of the same generation.

Generations have been shown to be different on how they view life

Baby Boomers are characterized as Optimistic and Involved

Generation  X are characterized as Skeptical, Fun and Informal

Millennials are characterized as Realistic, Confident, and Social


In addition to the generations also consider the gender of your customers? 

Do you get basically the same number of men and women? 

Are your customers predominantly one gender or the other?

Other demographics ages and gender there are other demographics that it helps know about your customers such as their ethnicity, income, education levels, home ownership, employment and location or residence.


Psychographics are the area of focus to help you understand your customers. This particular area focuses on personality, values, opinions and attitudes as well as interests and lifestyle. 

This information helps you understand how the different generations will receive the information you present to them. Keep in mind that the generations may see things differently (most of us like to think that our generation is unique).  In very general terms:

Baby Boomers are characterized as Optimistic and Involved

Generation  X are characterized as Skeptical, Fun and Informal

Millennials are characterized as Realistic, Confident, and Social

This these descriptions are not going to be true in every case, of course, though it gives you a starting point.

If you are not keeping track of your customers, their generations, demographics and psychographics, even in a general way your marketing will be more of a shotgun approach rather that a targeted approach to the types of people who are most likely to buy your products. Consider CRM (Customer Relationship Marketing) to help you track customers as well as their likes and dislikes. In this case, “knowledge is power.” The knowledge of your customers allows you to focus your marketing to the avenues that should work best for them and to track the results of this marketing.

While you are collecting and evaluating customer data, here is a tip that will help increase business: Treat everyone who comes into your store or uses your services, regardless of their age and gender, as interesting, fun and important people. If you treat them that way, they will buy more and come back to see you again.


Elizabeth Slater, owner of In Short Direct Marketing, helps companies jump start their marketing, sales and customer service programs.  While E (as she is known) works throughout North America (from San Diego to Nova Scotia) she is based in Sonoma County.  In addition to her travels, E teaches at SRJC and SSU presenting classes on sales and marketing.

Contact Elizabeth Slater