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As a small business owner, you’ve probably given some thought to your target market. After all, you’re not trying to sell life-coaching services (or basket weaving classes, or SEO eBooks) to everyone in the world. Right?
You’re simply trying to sell your product or service to the people who want and need it most.
Finding out who those people are, and learning to connect with them in a meaningful way, is what marketing is all about.
When you get crystal clear about your target market, niche, and ideal client, you’re able to create marketing materials that easily turn prospects into paying customers.
The terms target market, niche, and ideal client get tossed around an awful lot. The first step to streamlining your marketing efforts is to understand the difference between the three.
Target Market – This is the broadest section of the population you’re targeting.
Consider what group of prospects will get the best results, in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of effort because of working with you.
For example, perhaps you run a private cleaning company in Philadelphia. Is your target market “everyone who lives in Philadelphia?” Certainly not!
Why? Because not everyone in Philadelphia needs or wants their house cleaned. Of the people that do, who is it that needs and wants what your company has to offer?
Do you do your best work with affluent, college-educated married couples with children? Then perhaps you brand your company as an upscale, top of the line and exclusive service.
Do you consistently get business from coupon clippers, single parents or young professionals on a budget? Then perhaps you brand your company as the most affordable cleaning service in town?
There is not necessarily a right answer to who is your target market. However the wrong answer is “everyone”. The old saying “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” definitely applies to target markets.
Niche – What you do for your audience
Target market deals with your customer. Niche is all about you.
“Health and wellness” is an industry. “Private pilates coaching” could be your niche – that is, what you offer to people interested in health and wellness.
“Dating and relationships” is an industry. “Dating advice for new divorcees” could be a niche to pursue within that industry.
You can’t differentiate yourself from thousands of other businesses if you attempt to market a “travel website” or a “weight loss product.” There are millions of travel websites and weight loss products out there. What makes yours different?
Here’s what niche-ing down looks like:
Travel agent -> Solo travel expert -> Career break solo travel -> Career break solo travel for 40-somethings
Business coaching -> Business coaching for solopreneurs -> Business coaching for tech-challenged solopreneurs
Ideal Client – The detailed description of your perfect client or customer.
It’s difficult to connect with a nameless, faceless group of people, even if you’ve done your homework and “niched down.”
That’s where an ideal client profile comes into play. An ideal client profile is a made-up person who represents your perfect customer. They have the exact problems your best customers have, they need your help, and they’re ready to buy right now.
By creating a detailed bio of your ideal client, including biographical information and emotional needs, you’ll be able to create email newsletters, blog posts, website copy and products that resonate with your audience on a deep and personal level.
Because using an ideal client profile is like writing a letter to one person instead of thousands – the result is that each person who reads the letter feels like it’s written just for them.
Remember, choosing a target market, niche and ideal client is for the purposes of your marketing efforts. You will likely attract people who don’t fit what you’ve chosen and that’s ok! We’re not talking about turning anyone away. We’re talking about F-O-C-U-S-I-N-G the limited time, money and energy you have to spend on marketing on the people that will yield the best results.
Define your target market, see if you can “niche down” within your chosen industry, and spend some time crafting your ideal client’s bio and backstory.
The more specific you get, the more effective your marketing will be and the more qualified your leads will become as you begin to create customers for life.
Sydni Craig-Hart, The Smart Simple Marketing Coach, is founder of SmartSimpleMarketing.com.