Archive for August 25th, 2014

How I Chose My Target Market

How I Chose My Target Market

One of our members on the ACA LinkedIn Discussion Group asked, “How did all of you decide on your niche?”

Good question! Because choosing a target market is something it seems a lot of people struggle with.

I will say that a lot of it is just self-created angst.

They are either resistent to the idea or they spend too much time and anxiety wanting to make the perfect choice.

But business is not a perfect science. You will always be course correcting as you learn and grow.

Ultimately, it boils down to just deciding!

That said, there are criteria that are important to consider when choosing a target market (i.e., industry/field/profession) on which to cater your admin support in order for it to be viable:

  • It must have a need for the solution you’re in business to offer.
  • It must be able to afford you. Meaning, for example, it can’t be a dying industry or one where the people are commonly not earning well.
  • It must be easy to find. That is, it should be large enough that you can easily find people in this target market congregating in large numbers, both online and off. If it’s such an obscure or esoteric industry that just finding them is inordinately difficult, that might not be such a good choice.
  • If you already have a background and knowledge about an industry, it could be a suitable match because you’ll already have some insights into how it ticks and where to find them, making your marketing and message a lot easier.
  • It’s important that you enjoy the industry you choose to cater to and the work involved in supporting it. Otherwise, you’ll never really be able to serve it well. You want your work to be joyful and rewarding, not a chore that you are only doing for the money.

In answer to my colleague’s question, here’s how I chose my target market…

When I first started I really had no conscious knowledge or understanding about having a niche (AKA target market). It was just “get clients, any clients.”

And because I had no clarity or consciousness about WHO my clients were or should be (e.g., who I wanted to work with, what kind of clients made for the best fit), I spent a lot of years just flailing around, having very little marketing impact and not making much money.

Eventually I ended up with an accidental target market of local retail type businesses: clubs, venues, restaurants, hair salons, florists, gift shops, etc. I got those kind of clients because once I got those initial few, they would refer me to others.

The problem with this accidental target market was that it wasn’t one I intentionally chose. It was more like it just “happened” to me.

And the types of clients this market was made up of predominately had all kinds of issues.

First, the nature of local small retail business is very volatile. It was always feast or famine. These businesses would open and close constantly (seemingly overnight sometimes). Money was always tight. A lot of the business owners were not very business savvy. Many of them turned out to be downright dishonest and unethical. And I had to constantly chase after my money.

The good thing about this period in my early business years was that it was what got me thinking about what I really wanted from my business and who I wanted to work with.

The whole reason I started my business was to live a different kind of lifestyle, on my own terms, and the way my business was at that time, it was anything but that.

I didn’t like who I was working with and wasn’t making the kind of money I needed to live and thrive.

Eventually I decided that I really wanted to work with attorneys.

The reason I chose them was that:

  1. I had a paralegal background;
  2. Three of my uncles at the time were attorneys (one has since passed);
  3. I’d always worked around the legal field in some capacity (District Court, Sheriff’s department, private investigator, legal assistant to the VP/General Counsel of a U.S. based international company as well as a few other government agencies).
  4. I’ve always had an affinity for the legal field. I love the work and find the law and dealing with legal matters endlessly fascinating.

Once I decided who I wanted to work with, I let go of all my clients at that time and started everything over from scratch.

It was the best move I ever made.

Of course, “attorneys” was still too broad because the work and operations involved in serving one practice area are often completely different from another. To write any kind of compelling message that would be meaningful, I had to focus on a specific type of attorney.

Plus, there are certain practice areas in the legal field I had no interest or enjoyment in supporting (e.g., personal injury, immigration, bankruptcy).

So, eventually I narrowed my target market of “attorneys” down further to those in the specific practice areas of intellectual property, entertainment law and business.

I hope this is helpful to you if you are someone still trying to figure out who to focus on.

And if you have already chosen a target market, please share with us in the comments how you chose yours.