Frequently when I ask clients who their target market is, I get "everyone" as an answer. This used to drive me nuts when I was doing a lot of copywriting - should I start your copy with "Dear Mom" or "Hey Dude"! Knowing your target market means you can: a) Focus your message using the same language as your market and b) Target the benefits of your products and services that are most important to your specific audience. Large companies spend a ton of money researching their target market to drill down to the most minute details.
But it doesn't have to be costly or time consuming for an entrepreneur. It just requires some time and thought to simplify your target market. Let's use Liz as an example. She's a composite of a couple of my clients. Liz is a leadership coach with a background in banking. She's been a solo entrepreneur for 6 years.
Since her background is in the corporate world, she decided she would target larger corporations with many managers assuming they need leadership development and have a good sized budget. But that's as far as she went with her targeting. As a result, her clients ranged in size from 1000 to 10,000 were spread from California to New York and were in industries as diverse as insurance to oil production. Although Liz was happy to have the clients, she was unhappy traveling and didn't feel like she was leveraging her time and expertise. These are the questions we asked to start narrowing her target market: 1.
How can you categorize your clients? There are four ways to identify your target market: a) Geographics - location, size, etc b) Demographics - gender, income, etc c) Psychographics - general personality, benefits they are looking for, general characteristics, etc d) Behaviors - knowledge level, attitude, etc Collect and analyze as much information about your current clients as you can. Identify patterns and commonalities among your current client base. If your business is new or you have a very small client base, what do you want your market to look like? Liz's clients were all over the board. 2. Which clients do you enjoy working with the most and why? Think about the characteristics of the individual companies, the people you must market to, or the end users. In Liz's case, she found that she enjoyed working with the HR departments of companies with fewer than 5000 employees.
They are usually understaffed and happy to have support. 3. Which clients do you not enjoy working with and why? Once she started thinking about it, Liz realized there were two categories of clients that were difficult for her. Companies with large structured HR departments and those operating in a union environment were more challenging for her as a solo entrepreneur. Both had lots of rules and paperwork making her process more time consuming. 4.
Which clients don't hesitate about paying your prices? We all want everyone to pay our prices without blinking but the reality is, everyone has a budget of some type. Liz realized it was the larger companies that gave her more of a problem about pricing. They thought they should get a discount since they might provide more work in the future. 5.
If you were going to provide your services pro bono to a non-profit, which organization would you select? This question is to see where your heart is and how and if it fits into your market somehow. It may not fit in at all which is fine. Liz had a specific non-profit that focuses on inspiring girls in underserved neighborhoods. She could see herself providing leadership training to these young girls. 6.
Which clients are most underserved by your area of expertise or who needs your expertise the most? Liz wasn't sure about the answer to this question. She thought she needed to research it further. Her gut reaction was that companies with fewer that 1000 employees probably did not get the same number of vendors approaching them for business as the larger ones did.
She also thought that smaller companies would need her most because they don't have the internal resources to provide what she can. After further thought, Liz did come up with her target market. She now markets to: a) financial services companies in a non-union environment b) companies with fewer than 2500 employees c) companies within a 100 mile radius of her home office d) companies with a small HR department and no training and development department.
Liz will continue to refine her market as she researches and works with them. In the future, she may add another market or expand on this one. But now she can focus on one specific audience, using the same language they use. She is very clear about the benefits she can bring to this market and her communication and marketing material will reflect this clarity.
Nancy D Waring, Internet Communication Strategist and owner of OnPoint Communication Solutions, assists coaches and other service professionals who are not internet experts more effectively manage their online marketing so they can spend more time on their business. For more information about solutions to expand your business using the web, pick up her special report at http://www.onpointcommunicationsolutions.com