OK, I’ll admit that if I had seen the title of this post years ago when I started my coaching business, I would have rolled my eyes and probably skipped right over it. And if you were tempted to do the same, I appreciate your trust in me to read on.
In fact, I did ignore lots of advice that was given to me (free of charge by some really smart business owners) and spent years floundering and specifically NOT growing my business because I refused to define my target market. That’s why I talk about it so often now – especially with my clients – sometimes from a soapbox. I often get very tough in these coaching sessions because I know the slippery slope and I know all the arguments – remember, I’ve been there. And being a passion-driven woman (nod your head if you are one too), can put you square in this thinking.
‘But what I do/sell can help anyone…everyone.’
‘I don’t want to count anyone out – they could be a paying client.’
‘I like to do A and B and X and if I create the right meta-statement then people will be attracted to that.’
The bottom line is that business is about selling a product or service to someone (or to a business, where the decision is made by a someone). In order to do that you have to do some sort of marketing. Unless you are delivering, chances are you are marketing: word-of-mouth is marketing based on your reputation, your web-site is marketing your brand, free e-books are marketing based on an information product.
And here is the key: You cannot market to everyone. Marketing and messaging only work when they are directed at a specific type of person. That person then identifies with your message and becomes interested in you and your product/service. If your marketing is not clear, your people have a very hard time finding you to buy from you.
I could go on and on about this (remember earlier when I mentioned the soapbox?) but it is time to get to the list. And if you can’t describe your ideal niche/client/target market, set up some time with me, I have a great coaching process that gets to an answer.
5 Ways Narrowing Your Niche Grows Your Business
Having a focused niche (or target market) for your business may sound counter intuitive (fewer potential customers?!?), but it is the key for passion-driven entrepreneurs to grow a customer base.
- Creating effective marketing materials: Design consists of messaging, font, color, graphics and quality of production. Everything has a design: business cards, print ads, web sites, newsletters, brochures. It’s not just what you like, but what will appeal to your customers. The right message presented in a way that doesn’t resonate with your customer is never ‘seen.’
- Refined products and services: Offering fitness coaching? If your clients are young and into technology you would want to develop a tracking app for smart phone platforms. If your clients are just getting started and more ‘unplugged’ you would want to develop a spiral bound tracking journal.
- Setting you apart as an expert: Which not only means increased credibility over generalists, it means you can increase your income by charging expert fees.
- Competitive advantage: When compared to larger businesses, you have the edge when you can say that you know everything about your client (and not in the ‘we’ve mined your purchasing habits’ way). This also works within markets with lots of entrepreneurs. Ever wonder how someone picks the right financial advisor? It’s often the one who can say ‘Here’s how I’ve worked with people like you.’
- It makes referrals easy: No one wants to refer everyone-they-meet to everyone-they-meet. If you have a target market that is defined and easy for someone else to remember, you will get great referrals.
Imagine answering these questions if you don’t know who your ideal client/customer is:
- Should I go to XYZ networking group?
- What should my logo look like?
- Should I put effort into Facebook? Twitter?
- Should I advertise in the yellow pages?
- I see a billboard available close to my business. Should I buy it?
- Should I get a booth at that expo?
Sounds like a shot in the dark, right?
Now imagine answering them with a clear profile of your ideal client/customer in mind. If it will help you reach your target market, yes. If your ideal client doesn’t look at that kind of marketing, no. Simple.