One of the most common mistakes I see business owners make is refusing to narrow down their target market, or decide on their market. When I make the suggestion, some people get very uncomfortable. The main fear sounds something like this: “ I’m not going to turn people away—EVERYONE can buy my product/use my services!”
You’re right to believe in the value of your product or service as something that will benefit many and all people. BUT, think of it this way…
Marketing is a lot like fishing.
When you “go fishing” (ie, when you are investing your time, money, and energy into your marketing), it’s better to pick one type of fish to go after. If you cast a wide net, sure you’ll catch a few good fish, but you’re also going to bring in some junk, like a boot, glass bottles, an old tire, etc. It’s more efficient if you use the right bait, and you do this by figuring out what type of fish you’re after, placing yourself in the most likely spot to find them, then attracting them by giving them what they want.
When you decide on a target market, your marketing will suddenly become easy, and your time, energy, and dollars will be concentrated for best results. You can fish for anything in the sea, but you’ll get a better catch when you know what you’re going after.
The Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo is a great example. Their ideal client is reportedly a 34-year old married mother of two. So how do they cater their message to this woman? They emphasize safety, and make sure to buy advertising space in family-oriented magazines and magazines for mothers.
So, how do you decide on YOUR target market? Answer these questions that can point you in the right direction.
Who naturally gravitates to you and your services? Let’s say a creativity coach named Sarah starts her business, and she really wants to work with young visual artists. She circuits the local art openings, and approaches many people in her ideal market, but most of these fledgling artists don’t have enough money to afford her. If she opened her eyes while she was making her rounds, she might notice that the people who ARE most interested in her services may be corporate types, looking to nurture the long-lost artist within. Not exactly whom Sarah had in mind, but a clear market that is gravitating towards her.
Who actively buys your services? A great approach to answering this question is to do a little research. Pick a few of your competitors who are making a good living doing what you do. Try to find out whom they are marketing to, and why they might be targeting this specific market. How much are they charging, compared to what you are charging? This type of research can help you uncover quite a bit and direct your future marketing.
Let’s say Jamie a personal stylist with a struggling general business decides to scope out Betsy, her competitor’s website. She notices that Betsy targets new moms wanting to get back into the job market, or women ready to transition out of frumpy mommy gear and into Gwyneth Paltrow-like mommy sophistication. Betsy’s rates are packaged very differently from Jamie’s—she offers personal shopping days and half-days in addition to consultations. But it’s a known fact that Betsy’s business is thriving.
Jamie can take a few key lessons away from Betsy: she can narrow down a niche of her own, perhaps women who have lost a significant amount of weight who are looking to treat themselves to a makeover, or survivors of cancer and life-threatening diseases looking to restore their confidence and personal well being.
(Remember to never copy what someone else is doing. Not cool. But success leaves clues you can learn from.)
Who is ONE person that embodies your target market?
No matter what media you work in, once you pinpoint your target market, you’ll be able to shape your business model and your message with much more clarity. When you’ve gotten a clear idea of who your target market is, try to picture one singular person who embodies this market.
What does this person do for a living? What does she like to do for fun? What are her dreams, aspirations? Knowing your “who” will help your business connect with your target market. The ideas and direction of your marketing will flow much easier when you’ve got ONE person on your mind versus a massive, general audience. Just think about how your writing style changes when you write an email to your best friend versus writing a greeting card to the same best friend and her husband. Quite different, wouldn’t you agree?© Copyright 2012 Ali Brown