Have you ever thought about this question? I’ll admit, when I first started doing freelance website design about 10 years ago my concern was only the second half of the question – the “where do I find clients?!” part.
(Note: For those who haven’t followed me for a few years, I got my start working at home doing website design, then grew a successful website hosting company. After working with hundreds of clients for design, hosting, and VA services, I realized they needed more help and I began branching out into offering work at home moms help with the balancing act of juggling “mommy” duties while building a thriving online business. You’re welcome to check me out at www.creocommunico.com and I’d be honored to host your site if you’re looking for a virtual home.)
Many new businesses focus only on trying to find clients or customers and skip the critical step of identifying their “perfect” or “ideal” customer (also known as “niche”).
Focused marketing will bring you better results.
Unless you sell a product like toothpaste, “everyone” is not your market.
Even toothpaste can be narrowed down (Is it whitening toothpaste? Toothpaste for sensitive teeth? Kids toothpaste? Flouride free toothpaste?). Each of those different types of toothpaste has a different target customer and should be marketed with that in mind. No matter how great a marketing campaign is or how much time or money is put into it, if it’s aimed at the wrong people it will not succeed. You could market kids toothpaste to my Grandparents all you want, but they aren’t going to buy it, so it’d be a waste of marketing energy. But consider also that you don’t want to target the marketing for a kids toothpaste at only kids – because who makes the final buying decision for kids toothpaste? Most likely it’s Mom. So the right target marketing for a kids toothpaste would be… Moms. But not just any Moms. Moms with children under 6 years old, who live in the geographical area where the toothpaste is available.
See how we’re narrowing down the target market?
Keep going further. If you’ve got a flouride-free kids toothpaste with a premium price, then you’re looking for an even more specific ideal customer. You’d be looking at lifestyle, beliefs, and budget. Or if you sell the most budget-friendly option, that’s a different group of people.
Why is this important? You don’t want to just throw your time or advertising dollars out anywhere hoping that someone who wants your product sees it! That’s a good way to go broke and not get any results from all your effort. By knowing that you’ve targeted exactly the right group of people who want and can afford your items or services, you’ll be spending your time and advertising dollars wisely. You’ll also be able to design your website and written copy to speak to the right people.
Apply this to your products. Keeping in mind what makes you unique (from last week’s newsletter–just scroll down a bit to read it if you missed it)…
Who is your ideal customer?
If you sell handmade hippie style clothing created with from sustainable fabrics, who’s your ideal customer? Again, “everyone” is not the correct answer here. Yes, everyone wears clothing, but not everyone wears the style you create. No matter how hard I try, my husband would not fit into your target market (I would though). :)
If you make an item in a specific religious inspiration, consider that. Or if you’re inspired by bright colors or nature themes, consider the personality types drawn to those styles.
Do you offer business services? Write up a profile of the type of business and business owner you can best serve.
Here are some questions to help you find who you’re targeting:
– What types of people do you get along the best with? Understand the best? If you’re not marketing to people you understand, you need to take this into consideration and start learning more about them!
– Who do your products or services provide the most value or benefit to? What kind of problems do your best potential customers have that you can solve?
– Who is likely to value and appreciate your products or services the most? When their problems are solved, what changes for them?
– Think about your past customers. Which ones have made you feel the best about providing service to them or giving them your products? Why?
– Where are you most likely to find the people described in your answers above?
Write up a description of your perfect customer and who he/she is. Where do they live? What type of housing do they live in? Do they have children? What ages? Do they work, work from home, stay home? What’s their income? Where do they shop? What kind of music to do they listen to? The more detailed you can be the easier it will be for you to figure out where to connect with these people. When you know their interests you’ll be able to figure out where to find them both online and offline.
For example, if you’re looking to target moms of children under 3 you can start finding places they gather by looking at things in a general way — indoor/outdoor toddler play spaces; classes for babies/toddlers like mom and me playtimes, baby signing, etc; play groups or homeschool groups; day care centers. Next, think about your unique products and consider where those who’d love your products gather — which play spaces, classes or groups?
If you’re targeting school age kids for games or other toys, what you’re really looking for isn’t kids to shop on your site but the group of moms who’d be shopping online for your products so consider charter schools, homeschoolers, public schoolers whose children are in activities – you want involved parents who seek out your type of products for their kids. Opportunities like becoming a vendor for charter schools or public schools might be good to research. Or find out how to get your items listed on prominent homeschooling websites. What about tutoring centers or supplemental learning groups?
There are lots of places to find your target market, but you’ve got to know who you’re looking for before you can find them. So, my challenge to you is to go Sherlock Holmes this week and really focus on who you can help with your products or services, then investigate exactly where you can find them.
Once you’ve got that mystery solved, then you’re ready to start marketing effectively!