Demographic characteristics. Since issues, preferences and usage patterns vary along a variety of personal characteristics, identifying factors such as age, gender and ethnicity can help you more specifically address the needs of your target market. A potential client's family characteristics, such as marital status, family size and structure and the stage in the family life-cycle (e.g., single, married with young children, college-age children leaving home, retired with chronically ill partner) are also important to understand, since they can affect needs, issues, priorities, preferences and usage patterns.
Socioeconomic characteristics. Household income and related variables, such as level of education, social status and occupation, can also influence potential clients in terms of the way they make decisions about seeking and utilizing services, what type of information they want, and how they evaluate their options. Socioeconomic factors can also shape whether people select a provider based on cost, value or quality and whether or not they can afford your services.
Geographic characteristics. Knowing where your potential clients live, work, shop, attend school and engage in recreational activities can help you identify effective ways to reach them. Defining the geographic area (e.g., county, city, neighborhood, zip code) allows you to identify the marketing opportunities and communication channels available and focus your promotional efforts in those areas. For example, if most of your clients live in a few specific neighborhoods, it may be more effective to advertise in the local community newspaper or directory listing, rather than in the larger city newspaper that serves the metropolitan area. Knowing whether people are relatively settled or relocate and change jobs frequently can also shape your marketing approach.
Psychographic characteristics. How potential clients see you, the services you offer and the people who seek those services has an important bearing on how you market your practice. What your target clientele values (e.g., positive relationships, achievement, independence, personal growth and development, status) will influence the type of communications they attend to and the way they respond to your marketing efforts. Understanding the subgroups that your potential clients identify with and their general lifestyle (i.e., the way they allocate time and money and the types of activities they value) will also help you communicate effectively with them and provide services that meet their needs.
Service-related characteristics. Understanding when and under what circumstances prospective clients access services, how ready they are to make changes in their lives, and their most likely usage patterns will inform your marketing efforts. Similarly, factors such as how your target clientele finds out about available services, how well informed they are, who influences their decisions and choices, and who the typical referral sources are also have important implications for how you communicate with them. Note: In the health care system, where a third-party payer is often involved and the client does not directly pay for the service, it is also be important to identify the relevant characteristics of the payer.