Your target isn’t your market

Are you worried about targeting a specific type of client?

This is perfectly normal and something most business owners go through because it feels like you are limiting the opportunity available to you. When in fact, the opposite is true for reasons I’ll explain.

The fear that comes with niching down is understandable, but when you think about how many thousands, if not millions of people there are in the world that you could help, the fear diminishes somewhat.

And when we look at this from the perspective of expert service providers, we typically don’t need a huge number of clients each year to have a successful business. So even if you chose a really specific niche, you can almost guarantee there will be enough clients for you to work with.

If that hasn’t put your mind at ease, let’s now discuss some of the benefits of serving a specific target market.

The single biggest benefit of niching down is that it has a near-magical effect on your ability to attract clients.

By stating exactly who you work with in your messaging e.g. on your website and social media channels, you instantly become more relevant to that select group of people. This is why it has such a positive effect on your marketing.

Niching down is all about making the buying decision easier for your ideal client. When your offering is aimed at them specifically, they are much more likely to see you as the best choice to supply the service.

Not only does niching enable you to be more relevant to your target audience, but it also helps you to stand out from your competitors who are probably generalists and work with all sorts of clients.

If you still have reservations about targeting a specific group of people, here is something that I don’t hear many people talking about…

…the dirty little secret of niching is you don’t actually have to niche your whole business. What I mean by this is that even after you choose a niche, you are still free to take on projects and clients outside of it.

As a business owner you are ultimately in control of the work you pursue. Sometimes you may have to take on a project to make ends meet, and other times an interesting opportunity may present itself that doesn't quite fit your niche. It is ok to accept this work, you just shouldn’t talk about these projects in your marketing materials.

For your marketing to be most effective, it’s critical that the messaging in your marketing materials is focused on attracting a particular type of client.

But which market should I target?

When it comes to choosing your target market, the important thing to remember is that you need to be as specific as possible. A lot of expert service providers make the mistake of saying they serve SMEs, however this is not specific enough because most businesses in the world are in fact SMEs.

I find it’s best to focus on the type of problem you solve and the kind of person you are able to help the most. It’s ideal if you can describe this type of person in your marketing materials using a term they self-identify with.

This can be done in several ways, for example by:

  • job title – e.g. “HR managers”
  • character trait – e.g. “introverted”
  • life circumstance – e.g. “recently-retired”

The key here is that the target market needs to be able to recognise themselves in your marketing materials and know that you specifically help people in their situation.

When making the decision about who to target, the critical things to bear in mind are the types of people you enjoy working with, whether or not they have a great need for your services, and if they have the budget to pay the rates you want to charge.

Conclusion and action point

The bottom line about niching is that when you are clear about who you want to work with, it has a great impact on your ability to attract them. But remember, you don’t have to niche your entire business. You only need to niche your messaging for it to be effective.

A final thought I want to leave you with is that even after you have made the decision about who to target, it’s not set in stone. You can always change your marketing materials at a later date if you so wish. It's also normal for your positioning and targeting to evolve over time – this happens in almost every service business so don’t feel like you are stuck with the first target market you choose.

Your action point today is to consider whether your current target market is specific enough for your marketing to be effective.