Just saw some of the stupidest advice ever given to newcomers in our industry that does them a huge disservice: to go wide and focus on everyone who can use your service.
The person giving that advice is also confused about the difference between a target market and an ideal client. They are not the same thing. You want to work with ideal clients within your target market.
In fact, it’s the complete opposite–you will find clients and succeed much more quickly and easily when you start off with a narrow, specifically defined target market. You then become much better positioned to “go wide” later in your business (should you even choose to) once you’ve got solidly established your business and client base.
Because here’s the problem: When you are new in business (and without a target market), you have no idea where to begin marketing. You mistakenly think, “Everyone can use my service so anyone can become a client.” Well, how on earth do you market to literally anyone and everyone? You overwhelm yourself trying to be anywhere and everywhere, and your efforts are completely ineffective and wasteful as a result.
First off, it is impossible to “focus” on anyone and everyone. You aren’t focusing on anyone if you are trying to market to everyone. All you can ever be is generic when you are trying to talk to anyone and everyone.
Second, and more importantly, focusing on a target market doesn’t have anything to do with limiting your options, which is what so many are afraid of. In fact, when you focus on a target market, you actually become more interesting and compelling to prospective clients and markets of all kinds. It gives you MORE choice, not less. The smaller the pond, the better the fishing.
Focusing on a target market is about giving you much-needed direction in your marketing and networking that will yield far greater results than trying to talk to anyone and everyone (and only making a drop in a huge ocean). When you know who you’re talking to, you can create a more compelling, resonate message that really “speaks” to that group (and makes more of them want to talk more with you).
You can’t know and truly articulate your value unless you know specifically who you are talking to. Your value to one market will be completely different from your value to another market. Those who have a target market can get a deeper, clearer understanding of their value and, in turn, be able to charge better for it.
You will EXHAUST yourself trying to be everywhere and reach everyone. And that’s what a target market will prevent. It gives you the direction you need to know where to best focus your (very limited) time, energy and efforts (with vastly better results) on just those people and the places where they hang online and off.
Focusing on a target market also makes EVERYTHING easier in business… creating and scoping out your packages, writing your compelling marketing message, finding clients and having more impactful conversations with them. Even your work and business become vastly easier to manage, which will leave you with more free time away from the business to enjoy the fruits of your success.
It’s not difficult to choose a target market. The only time it becomes difficult is because people think they have to make the perfect choice. They agonize over it. Stop that. JUST DECIDE and go from there. You can always change course later if you find a target market isn’t right for you.
How you decide isn’t difficult either. A target market is simply a specific field or profession. So what industry or background do you already have experience in (and thus will already have a great working knowledge of)? If not any of those, what industry, field or profession seems like it would be interesting to work with to you. This is important because you must have an affinity and enjoyment for the work and what they do or you’ll soon tire of it and burn out.
Once you decide on one, then simply do your research. Study up on that industry/profession. Interview business owners in that field to better understand that business and what kind of work is involved. This homework will both help you craft your compelling message and develop your solutions which will be all the more attractive because of that focus.
There are ideal and unideal clients in every market. Your job will be to sit down and start drafting a little profile for yourself of all the traits and characteristics make up the kind of person you most enjoy working with. This exercise simply helps you gain clarity, consciousness and intention around who you really enjoy and want to with and who you don’t. Doesn’t have to be perfect, and you’ll continue to develop and refine this throughout the life of your business.
People without a target market don’t know where they need to be because they’re trying to be everywhere and talk to everyone. They’re doing it the hard way. With a target market, they’d attract more right-fitting clients and waste far less time in places and with people that aren’t getting them anywhere anyway.