As a marketer, you know that targeting a potential customer as specifically as possible can be a powerful sales tool. But if you focus in on a consumer's identity the wrong way, you could alienate rather than motivate.

So, you need to proceed carefully, accurately and respectfully. The good news: cutting-edge marketing research has you covered.

Try these five easy and effective tips to make sure your approach will work every time:

Respect boundaries.

A study on identity marketing from the Journal of Consumer Research found that if you link a purchase to a consumer too tightly — as in, you're the person who always drives this specific car model — you risk taking away that consumer's sense of ownership and freedom of choice. Subsequently, they feel threatened and stop buying your product.

Instead, focus on choice — as in, you're the person who chooses to drive this specific car model — here's what's new and improved about it. Also, introduce new products from your brand that have a lot of the same great features as your consumer's original purchase choice so they feel you're respecting their right to shift their purchase power.

Use a consumer's self-image ethically.

Researchers at Washington State University found that the best way to customize products to a consumer considered to be narcissistic is to compliment the consumer in advertising . You can do this ethically by stressing the good impression the consumer will make on others by wearing your product, for example — not by stressing how the consumer can best others by wearing it in a competitive way.

Don't get too personal.

Research from the University of Illinois found that mentioning a potential customer's hobbies, city of residence, work or similar personal info in a marketing email can feel invasive and immediately turn off that consumer.

It also reads universally as fake bonding. Stick to product info if you use this approach and avoid the temptation to get too friendly.

Find word-of-mouth allies.

According to researchers from the University of Canberra and Queensland University, mothers who are active on the internet represent a treasure trove of marketing research for products. These consumers often give word-of-mouth advice on social media to other moms seeking to purchase new products.

Target moms who are prominent on Instagram with free product trial opportunities that they can spearhead both online and in their hometowns. Then, you’ll have some powerful new members on your team.

Keep asking questions.

Survey your existing customers about improvements and innovations they want to see you make to the products they purchase from you.

When your audience has incorporated your brand into their personal identities and lives daily, they feel intimately connected to what you offer. Consider it a teachable moment when they tell you what works and use their input to make what you offer them even better!