I just returned from a rather lengthy and interesting conversation with a very close friend of mine. He and I get together once every month or so to catch up and share news. I know, in today's world of twitter, facebook and social networking, it's sometimes hard to believe that people still schedule time to share news with each other. Call me old fashioned, but I find a distinct value in face to face time.

After some general updates and discussion of the upcoming holidays, the conversation turned to my launching of Graysen Brown. After explaining to my friend what I find so interesting about the field of marketing, he asked me, "What aspect of marketing separates successful campaigns from the rest?" Admittedly, I had to chuckle a little. You see, in my opinion, there isn't one aspect of marketing that is any more important than the others, especially in today's interconnected world. However, I came up with a list of what I believe to be the trifecta of successful marketing. Over the next three blogs, I will be discussing these three components and providing you some useful tips to create a successful marketing campaign.

Aspect # 1: Identifying your target customer(s).

Just like any hunter, you have to know what your hunting. I know, you must say, "I'm hunting money." But that's not enough. Truly, your hunting people. Specifically the people who have the money to buy your product, service or support your cause. I know it must seem like a rather simple concept, yet few companies spend the time, energy and resources necessary to clearly define to whom they ought to market. Call me strange or call it my educational background, but this is the aspect of marketing that sparks my curiosity the most.

To define your target audience best, you need to get into their psychology and behavior. In many ways, you have to become a behavioral analyst. Now, I know, most of you out there haven't the time, so I thought I would give you a few hints. Here are ten questions every business should ask about its potential customer:

1. How does my customer spend his or her leisure time? Knowing what interests your customers share and how they spend their most important commodity, their time, is invaluable to defining unique and often unexpected opportunities to reach them. In a later blog post, I will discuss the benefit of reaching your customer during their leisure time.

2. How much does my customer read? I can't begin to tell you how many times I have seen companies use too much or not enough verbiage. The old adage that more is better is, to say the least, old. What's the point of saying more if you don't need to?

3. At what grade level does my customer read and comprehend? Are your speaking over their heads, or belittling them? When it comes to marketing, words may not hurt you, but they can definitely kill your profits.

4. Where does my customer receive his or her news? Keep in mind that there are many different types of news, ranging from water cooler gossip to international politics. If it's being shared between two or more people who are not personally involved, it's considered news.

5. How much time does my customer spend researching products or services before making a purchase? This could also be known as: is my customer a window shopper or an impulse buyer? Misjudging your customer on this one could lead spending too much (or too few) resources in all the wrong places.|

6. If my customer won $1,000, how would he or she spend it? You may be thinking this is the same as question five, but it's not. Certainly, your customers' normal spending habits play a factor here, but this question isn't aimed at discovering their normal spending habits.

7. Which holiday, other than Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza, is my customer's favorite? Every business (even mine) markets during the holidays, but what other times of year are your customers most likely to spend near the same amount on others?

8. Is price or quality more important to my customer? Although many will tell both are equally important, your customer will always favor one over the other. It is also important to keep this question limited within the context of your particular products or service.

9. When writing (not typing), does my customer write in cursive? You are probably wondering what this has to do with marketing, but you'd be selling yourself short to skip it. Their are countless studies on the handwriting style of individuals. In fact, there are two major fields of study that have sprung from this; Typography and Handwriting Analysis. If court cases could be won or lost based on this, I think it's worth taking a look at.

10. If my customer could live anywhere in the world, for free, for one year, where would he or she live? This is, personally, my favorite question to ponder. Keep in mind that most individuals habitat is, by and large, determined by their income (or, in the case of youth, by their parent's income). This question pushes that factor to side to discover the physical environment that is most appealing to your customer.

I urge you to answer each of these questions for yourself. Then, take a look at the products and services you buy and how you came to buy them. I think you will find that parallels between your purchasing decisions, and the answers to these questions will amaze you.

In my next article, I will show you how to use the answers to the questions to create the second component of a successful marketing campaign. In the meantime, if you've found this article interesting or useful, please consider sharing it with your friends. To ensure you receive the next installment, be sure to subscribe to this blog, join my mailing list, friend me on facebook or follow me on twitter.
Until next time, I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

About Author / Additional Info:
Shane A. Stahl, founder of Graysen Brown, has more than 15 years experience working in and around the field of marketing. Originally from California, he has developed and created lasting marketing strategies for national non-profit organizations and small-businesses. http://www.graysenbrown.com