Dear Danielle: How Do I Market to a Target Audience I Have No Experience With Yet?

Dear Danielle:

I’ve been using your products to help me figure out my target market. In your materials, you encourage us to not be deterred by a niche just because we haven’t yet gained experience with it. So, the question I keep asking myself is how to confidently market my services that I know I’m adept at, but don’t yet have the concrete evidence to support such statements when meeting with potential clients. —Jayleen Hayden, Administrative Consultant

Hi, Jayleen 🙂

This is where the research phase of defining your target market comes in.

Your job, once you’ve determined (or are looking into serving) a particular target market is to STUDY UP and learn everything you can about that particular profession/field/industry. There are all kinds of ways you can do that (and you should do all of them!):

  • Use the Internet to learn more about that particular profession/field/industry.
  • Read books (buy some and/or check some out at the library)
  • Check out their industry journals and publications
  • Contact their industry professional associations and avail yourself of their information and resources (including TALKING to people there and asking for their thoughts and guidance on how you can learn more about their industry)
  • Create a free online survey and then shop it around in their industry networking forums, listservs, etc.
  • Call a few people in your chosen target market and conduct some telephone surveys/interviews.
  • Take someone in your desired target market out to lunch and pick their brain.
  • Join your target market’s forums and listservs and start asking questions.

Use your imagination and creativity! Any way you can think of to learn more about your target market is perfectly valid.

And what exactly do you want to know about your target market? Anything and everything; it’s all useful! But here’s a simple list to get you started:

  • You want a firm understanding of the work they do and how their businesses are commonly run.
  • What kind of overarching goals, dreams and desires do they have for their businesses (and their life)?
  • What are their common needs, goals and challenges in their businesses?
  • What kind of administrative work is involved in running their business?
  • How do they make their money?
  • Where are their stuck points? What kind of roadblocks keep them from moving forward (e.g., work they hate or don’t know how or don’t have time to do)?
  • Who are their clients? What kind of needs, goals and challenges do they have in supporting their clients or customers?

Value is always relative to the subject. Value is never something you can articulate in any general kind of way. This is why you always have to know who you’re talking to specifically in order to be able to articulate your value in a way that is going to be the most meaningful, relevant and compelling to that group.

When you don’t know who you’re talking to, this is when people default to talking about themselves and their businesses from their own limited and self-indulgent perspective—things that prospective clients are the least interested in, and which is the least client-centric.

Therefore, this background work in knowing and understanding your target market is vital in getting a grasp for and determining how and where your support will be most useful and meaningful to them. As you get the answers to these question, you begin to see where your support can fit in and help them in all kinds of ways:  running smoothly, keeping organized, moving forward, helping them become more streamlined, systemized and automated. It’s this thorough research and subsequent understanding that will help you show potential clients in your target market how you can truly help them.

When you’ve done your homework like this, it shows. It will show up in your marketing message because you’ll be able to relate your work specifically to your target market’s particular industry and their specific needs, goals and challenges. They will recognize that you understand their businesses and their challenges, and this will make your value more readily apparent to them.

When that’s the case, experience with a particular target market (or lack thereof) is never a roadblock. You’ll get that soon enough!

5 Responses

  1. Dani says:

    Never thought about a free survey. Thanks for the tip Danielle!

  2. Patty says:

    Amazing post, very helpful for my market research!

    Now I’m really looking forward to a laser coaching session with you, Danielle!

    – Patty

  3. Tamira says:

    About 6 hours ago I posted a discussion in all my VA LinkedIn groups asking this very same question. I am working to break into the niche market of providing service to professional coaches and speakers. This is great and helpful information! However, I still feel like with all there is to learn and know about the profession that I need to almost become a coach just to be able to support them. I will be working on these tips given in this article immediately. Again, thank you for this post!

  4. Willi Morris says:

    I am so happy with myself that I thought of doing a survey before I saw this blog haha. Unfortunately, I’m still not sure if my target market of private investigators is one that is currently profitable locally, so I may have to start marketing to folks outside of my state. Totally okay with that, though. I still have a lot to learn regarding this industry, so thanks so much! The target market guide is a great help.

  5. Marie says:

    Hi Danielle! I know that this is an older post, but I’m working through your “How to Choose Your Target Market” package and though I’m finding a ton of value in it (especially since you make it available free of charge), I think that the info in your post would be a fabulous addition to the package.

    Loving all I’m gaining from being a part of ACA, thanks for all you do for our industry!

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