In the beginning, when the doors of your business open, your love of your product or service may know no bounds. This thing you’re doing, it is so amazing and so universally necessary, that the whole idea of “niche marketing” is ludicrous. Your ideal customer or client is everyone.
Plus, the more people you serve, the more viable your business - right?
Well, no. Wrong.
It may seem counterintuitive, but by defining and - yes - limiting the types of clients you work with, you’ll actually get further, faster. Why?
You’ll be able to provide better, more consistent, and valuable service to the clients you have.
You’ll enjoy your work more, which will make you not only more efficient, but also more effective.
You will be able to easily avoid customers who waste your time, your effort, and then complain. Why do they complain? Because they’re not your ideal client - so your offering actually doesn’t suit them.
You will become known for the work you do within your specific niche - and your ideal clients will now find you.
Defining Your Target Market
As with cars, houses, and romantic partners, sometimes it’s easier to start with clearly defining who and what you don’t want.
Think of a few unpleasant interactions you’ve had in the last year. Maybe the client demanded more than you provided. Maybe they were difficult to communicate with. Maybe you stretched your offering just this once and you experienced (gasp!)... failure.
What did the customers in each of those scenarios have in common? What made them really different from your “regular” folks?
Now - this is more fun - think about your top 3 favourite people to work with. The ones that don't feel like work. The ones who pay their invoices on time and seem grateful for that thing you do. The ones who tell all their friends about you, and introduce you to their families.
What do they have in common? How old are they? Are they a specific gender? If you're a B2B, what business are they in? What size? How much money do they make? Where do they live or work?
Dig deeper. What personality traits do they share? What values are important to them? Do they have specific interests, places they go to hang out, even music they listen to?
Consider developing a written persona. If making up people isn’t your cup of tea, that's okay. Just write about a real customer you know and adore. If you wish you had more people like Christina in your life, then make sure everyone you say “yes” to going forward has a lot in common with Christina.
No, not Christina. We like her, remember?
Take action. Strategy and planning are pointless without execution. Here’s what you're going to do next:
Review your business practices and procedures, thinking about what will make it easier for the Christinas of this world to do business with you, and harder for everyone else. This could mean making changes to your hours, and the way you communicate. Maybe Christina is available before 12, after 7, and prefers face-to-face contact over emails. Or maybe she really likes text messages. Maybe Christina would spend $40 on your offering, and uses cash or credit, but never debit. Maybe she likes home delivery, or maybe getting out into your physical space is meaningful for her.
Review - and possibly refresh - your branding. Does your typography and colour scheme appeal to her? Is your content the length she would read, on her phone (because that might be where she looks), about things that interest her? If she saw your marketing materials, would she stop and pay attention? Would she know instantly that you are what she’s been looking for?
If your mom - or spouse or friend or dog - says she doesn’t like your website, and she's not Christina… don’t worry about it. Your mom/spouse/friend/dog is not your target market. Resist well-meant, inappropriate assistance.
Take advice from Christina and anyone like her. Ask Christina for her advice, and her feedback. Her opinion matters.
The Gracious “No”
Saying “no” to non-Christinas can be pretty tough. Especially if you like them. Especially if they're like 50% Christina. But you're not building 50% of a business. You don't want to be 50% successful.
Start working on your very gracious “no.” If you get stuck, check out our previous post on what to do when you simply have more business than you can handle. Free up those people who aren't your ideal client to work with businesses built around them - and free yourself to live a happy, productive, Christina-rich existence.