Can you identify your target market? Often we refer to your target market as your ideal clients, but if you can’t clearly identify them, how will you be able to market to them?
What are the benefits of identifying your target market?
Identifying your target market has many benefits for your company and can streamline your marketing. Here are just a few of the reasons you may want to make your life easier by identifying your target market.
- When asking for referrals, you can clarify for your referral partners exactly who you want to reach
- You can focus money spent on marketing to reach only your target market
- You will be able to distinguish yourself from the competition
- The ability to create more of a connection with the people who want to buy your services
- Be more strategic in your marketing and in developing your marketing materials to appeal to the right people
- Create more of an opportunity to filter out those prospective clients who are not a good fit – this will save both you and the prospective client time and energy
- You will find that by being more strategic, you will attract your ideal clients and find more enjoyment in your business which can lead to more financial success
Often people get frustrated with marketing because they are wasting their time and money marketing to anyone and everyone. The frustration comes when you either get a very poor conversion rate or you’re attracting the wrong people. But this shouldn’t be surprising if you have not defined exactly who you want to reach.
How do you identify your target market and ideal clients?
First, you need to be very clear about who and what your business is – what does it represent. What is the culture of your business? What sets you apart from other design firms? Without clarifying who and what your business is about you may tend to try and appeal to prospective clients with whom you will not enjoy working. When this situation happens you may find you are working harder to please clients who are not ideal while losing enjoyment in the process. And they may recognize it too.
Who is NOT your ideal client?
It can be helpful to think about past clients that were not ideal and why that is, so that you can avoid them in the future. Being specific as to why they are not ideal clients will also help you identify who IS your ideal client.
Create client profiles
You will most likely have multiple ideal clients but for each of them, you need to have a detailed profile. How else will you know what makes them tick, and what their motivators are?
For example, you may have identified empty nesters, single entrepreneurs and families purchasing second homes as your ideal clients. You need to then have a detailed profile for each of these ideal clients. Identify their ideal location, age group, living situation, job position/situation, income range, values, interests, activities, behavior, family makeup, etc. You might also include what you would say their biggest fears are as well as their major goals and big dreams and desires. The more details you collect, the more successful you will be at connecting with them and creating a sense of community with a desire to work with you. Don’t worry about being too general – these are guidelines, not strict rules. You want to be able to describe in detail and visualize these people so gather pictures to represent them – or, if you have current or past ideal clients, use them as your visuals.
Local vs wide-reaching
Do you want to stay fairly local as to whom you work with or do you want to work with clients across the country or even out of the country? If you want to expand your “territory”, then be specific and make sure you identify processes and procedures you would need to have in place to make it work. Include possible adjustments in your marketing to reach this expanded market.
Why these clients?
Why do you want to work with these clients? Ask yourself why you chose these particular clients with these specific characteristics. When you can identify the emotional link that you have with these clients you will find that you will more easily connect with them – and you will be more likely to receive referrals from them to other ideal clients.
Can you afford to work with your ideal clients?
Can you afford to work with the ideal clients whose profiles you have created? You may have identified first-time homeowners. But that demographic may have a small design budget after just purchasing their first home. Can they realistically afford your services at the rates you’d like to charge? If you have identified a target market of non-affluent clients, will you be able to create a profitable business, and if so, how?
What is your unique selling proposition?
What do you offer that sets you apart? Designers are problem solvers so what problems do you solve? What needs and desires that you identified for your ideal clients do you meet and fulfill?
One-size-fits-all does not work for marketing and particularly when you are attempting to appeal to your specific target market. Your approach will differ greatly if you are trying to reach first-time homeowners as opposed to those purchasing a vacation home. It is critical to know your market so that you direct your message specifically to their needs and wishes. You want your message to make a positive impact. You want to create a sense of community of people who share similar characteristics.
Learn to say no
Saying “no” can be a challenge, especially if business is slow, but taking on non-ideal clients can often cost you money as well as create more stress. Learn to say no to non-ideal clients and you’ll enjoy your work more. You’ll also avoid going down a path of continuing to take on work that doesn’t fulfill you. Stick to your goals, and you’ll have a more satisfying experience with your business.
Finally, this quote from marketer Philip Kotler sums up the value of identifying your target market: “Authentic marketing is not the art of selling what you make but knowing what to make. It is the art of identifying and understanding customer needs and creating solutions that deliver satisfaction to the customers, profits to the producers, and benefits for the stakeholders.”