Finding Your First Customer

Starting a new program begins with understanding your customer. In order to survive as a business we are going to need customers and you will need to figure out what is valuable to them so that you can provide them with a service that they are willing to pay for. So the first thing you are going to need to do is define your customer and their needs. However, we can’t define our customers without knowing who they are.

You may be tempted to describe your market in the broadest possible terms. Sometimes it just feels nice to think that there is this enormous market out there for us to service. Unfortunately, this gives you little genuine information on which to base your business decisions.

When I opened my first program, I started with an hypothesis of who I imagined my customers to be. Then I hit the pavement with some surveys to get some actual information about who those customers really are.  Moving forward, once I started acquiring customers I used similar types of surveys to define exactly who my customers actually are. I use the definition of my target customer to influence my marketing plan towards acquiring even more students!

Finding your first customer in 3 steps:

  1. Hypothesis
    • Who do you think your customers are? Take a stab in the dark – we need to start somewhere.
  2. Surveys
    • Ask some basic questions to people, who based on your hypothesis, might be a potential customer.
  3. Define Your Customers
    • Use your survey responses and customer data to build a customer profile so that you can make sure to target your marketing to the right audience.

Start with a basic parent survey. Here are some sample questions to ask parents:

  • What kind of after school enrichment programs are in your neighborhood? Are you satisfied with them? If not, what’s missing?
  • What age range of children would you send to a program?
  • Would you send girls / boys / both? (if both is the age range different by gender?
  • What are you looking for that is not being offered right now?
  • How many hours/times a week would you want to send your child?
  • What skills or other objective do you want your child to gain?
  • What is the price range you expect to pay per class? per month?
  • What other activities would you want to be offered?
  • What is your ideal location? How far would you be willing to travel? What are your Religious/ cultural requirements, if any?
  • Other comments/ suggestions?

I went the old school way of standing outside of schools during drop-off and pickup or going to kid friendly spaces – such as the park – to meet parents and ask them my survey questions in person. I’m sure you will think of many other ways to find your hypothetical customer and ask them these survey questions to figure out if they are actually your potential client.

Who are my customers? What to they want? I believe those are the two most important questions towards acquiring clientele. I try to ask myself those two question at least once a week. Make sure that you constantly have your customers interests at the top of your mind and your program will be at the top of theirs!

Check out Part II of this article — using your survey data to define your customer and build your customer profile!

Let me know below if there’s anything you want me to dive into for Part III!

How to Find Your First Customer for Your Children's Activity Business

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