I just read an insightful article titled “Zen and the art of online selling” that appeared in a recent MediaPost blog. The article states that in order to be seen as a leader, you must first have an intimate knowledge of your target audience. This means engaging with them and collecting their thoughts, concerns, likes, dislikes, etc. While this may come as a revelation to smaller businesses in the online business world, the idea of doing a deep dive with your target audience is not new. Traditional advertising agencies have employed strategic planners and researchers who’ve been probing people like ethnographers for decades. A good strategist can uncover golden nuggets of useful information that can give a marketer an edge or point of differentiation that they weren’t previously aware of. Using this edge to put a business ahead of the pack can turn a perception of leadership into a reality. While the above-mentioned article has some solid practical steps to get you started, may I suggest you get professional help if you’re serious about getting to know your audience. A strategic expert can help you most effectively engage your audience, gather data and then make sense of it and give you real suggestions to improve your business. Nobody knows your business better than you. Just keep in mind that someone else may be more qualified to tell you about your consumer.