If you are a small business owner in Nigeria, or anywhere for that matter, you know that reaching the right customers is crucial for your success. That’s why it’s important to carefully identify and target your ideal customer, especially because it’s not easy to stand out in a crowded market, particularly when you have limited resources and budget. You may be tempted to appeal to everyone or to copy what your competitors are doing, but that’s a recipe for mediocrity and frustration. To grow your business, you need to identify and target your ideal customers – the people who need and want what you offer and are willing to pay for it.

In this article, I’ll show you seven (7) steps to identify and target your ideal customer, using real-life examples from Nigerian MSMEs.

Step 1: Define your niche and value proposition

The first step to identifying and targeting your ideal customers is to define your niche – the specific area of your industry where you excel and have a unique advantage. For example, if you’re a fashion designer, your niche could be ethnic wear for plus-size women or eco-friendly denim for men. Once you have identified your niche, you need to craft a value proposition that explains why your products or services are better than others in the market. Your value proposition should be clear, concise, and compelling. Think of these as the 3Cs that will help you focus on the benefits that your customers will experience, such as saving time, money, or hassle.

Mimi, a graphic designer in Lagos understands this principle so well. When she realized that her passion and talent for creating eye-catching logos and social media graphics could serve a specific niche – small business owners who wanted to attract more customers online. She crafted a value proposition that promised “professional designs that get you noticed and remembered,” and targeted her marketing messages to this niche. With this value proposition in mind, she began targeting her marketing messages and channels to this niche. Mimi’s efforts paid off – she began receiving inquiries from small business owners in her niche, and her clients were thrilled with the results of her design work. As a result of her targeted approach, Mimi was able to build a thriving business serving the needs of small business owners in Lagos.

Step 2: Research your audience

To efficiently target and identify your ideal customer, the second step is to research your audience – the people who are most likely to buy from you. You need to understand their demographics (their ages), psychographics (what are their values), and pain points (what are their problems, challenges, or frustrations), and use that knowledge to tailor your marketing messages and channels. You can use various tools and methods to gather this information, such as surveys, focus groups, social media listening, Google Analytics, and competitor analysis.

Dooshima, a catering business owner in Abuja comes to mind. When she was starting her business, she researched the preferences of her potential corporate clients and found they valued healthy and diverse menus, on-time delivery, and personalized service. This helped her identify and target her ideal customer easily. She created a website and brochure highlighting these features and developed a value proposition of “healthy, delicious and diverse catering services that help you impress your clients and employees at your next corporate event. We guarantee on-time delivery and personalized service to make your event stress-free.” By incorporating this into her marketing efforts, Dooshima successfully attracted more corporate clients, leading to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.

Step 3: Create customer personas

The third step to identifying your ideal customers is to create customer personas – fictional representations of your ideal customers based on your research. A customer persona should include details such as age, gender, income, education, occupation, interests, goals, challenges, objections, and communication preferences. Recall that this information is gotten from the demographics, psychographics and pain points you researched in the last step. By visualizing your ideal customers as real people, you can empathize with their needs and desires and create marketing messages that resonate with them. This approach of empathy will help you feel what your customers feel, therefore placing you in a position to solve their problems.

No one exudes empathy more than Chinyere. The skincare entrepreneur who runs her business in Enugu created three customer personas – young female students who wanted affordable and natural products, middle-aged mothers who wanted anti-ageing and skin-brightening solutions, and male athletes who wanted soothing and hydrating creams. She used these personas to customize her product offerings, packaging, and messaging for each segment and increased her sales by 30%.

Step 4: Segment your market

After identifying your ideal customer and creating their persona, the next step is to segment your market. Market segmentation is the process of dividing your target audience into smaller groups based on similar characteristics, such as age, gender, income, education level, location, interests, and behaviour. Segmentation allows you to target each group with a specific message and offer that addresses their unique needs and wants. You can segment your market based on various factors, such as geography, demographics, psychographics, behaviours, and usage. By doing so, you can create more personalized and relevant marketing messages that resonate with each segment.

Imagine if you are a clothing retailer targeting women, you might segment your market into different age groups or style preferences, such as casual wear, formal wear, or athletic wear. This would allow you to create more specific and targeted marketing messages that appeal to each segment’s unique needs and preferences.

Step 5: Develop a marketing strategy

Now that you have a good understanding of your target audience and their needs, it’s time to develop a marketing strategy that will effectively reach and engage them. Your marketing strategy should be based on the channels and tactics that are most likely to resonate with your target audience. If your business is offline, get a graphic designer to make signage for you. Your business can also benefit from the distribution of fliers with your offering and contact details on them.

Otherwise, if your target audience is primarily active on social media, you may want to focus your marketing efforts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp as I have seen many entrepreneurs do these days. Alternatively, if your target audience is more likely to respond to email marketing, you may want to focus on building an email list and creating targeted email campaigns.

Step 6: Execute Your marketing plan

Okay, now it’s time to put your marketing plan into action. This means creating content, ads, social media posts, and email campaigns to reach your target audience. You want to make sure that your message is clear and concise so that your potential customers understand what you offer.

For instance, when Musa who runs a laundry business in Kaduna wanted to increase his customer base, he identified two target groups: busy professionals who want a quick turnaround time and students who want affordable prices. He created marketing materials that speak directly to these segments, such as social media posts and flyers with catchy headlines. He tracked his success by monitoring his website traffic, social media engagement, and the number of new customers. As a result, he saw an increase in business and built a loyal customer base.

It’s crucial to track the success of your marketing efforts so that you can make adjustments and improve your strategy. You can do this by monitoring metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, and email open rates. For example, if you notice that your email campaigns aren’t getting many clicks, you may want to adjust the subject line or content to make it more engaging.

Remember, marketing is an ongoing process, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. With patience and persistence, you can develop a marketing plan that helps you reach and connect with your ideal customers.

Step 7: Evaluate and adjust

Congratulations on making it this far in your marketing journey! Now it’s time to evaluate and adjust your strategy to ensure that it’s driving the desired results. Let’s say you’re a poultry farmer in Kano. You’ve been using Facebook and Instagram to promote your farm, targeting young professionals who value healthy and locally sourced birds. After a few months, you notice that your engagement rates are lower than expected, and you’re not getting as many sales as you’d like.

It’s time to evaluate your marketing strategy and make adjustments. First, you review your metrics and notice that your posts are getting the most engagement on Sundays, which is surprising since you thought your target audience would be more active on weekdays. You also notice that your audience demographics skew older than you originally thought.

Based on this data, you decide to adjust your targeting and messaging. You shift your ad targeting to older age groups and adjust your messaging to highlight the health benefits of your poultry products, rather than just the local sourcing aspect. You also start posting more on Sundays, when your audience is most engaged. After a few weeks, you notice an uptick in engagement and sales. By regularly evaluating and adjusting your marketing strategy, you’re able to stay agile and ensure that your efforts are aligned with your business goals.


In conclusion, it is important to always identify and target your ideal customer as it is critical to the success of your business. As a small business owner in Nigeria, understanding the needs and desires of your customers is key to delivering products and services that satisfy them and keep them coming back for more. By following the seven steps outlined in this article, you can develop a targeted marketing strategy that speaks directly to your ideal customer and helps you achieve your business goals.

Remember, marketing is an ongoing process, and it’s important to regularly evaluate and adjust your strategy to stay ahead of the game. Keep tracking your metrics, experimenting with new tactics, and staying tuned in to your target audience’s needs and preferences. With persistence and a willingness to adapt, you’ll be well on your way to marketing success!