Musings about target audience. It’s more complex than you think

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Who is your target audience?

That question alone can strike fear in the heart of many self-employed creators.

I understand.

The well-intentioned experts tell us we should have such things.

“You need a target audience,” they tell us.

“What is your niche?” someone says.

Perhaps they use the phrase target market.

There is no reason to get all stressed out. Today we are here to talk about it and how it applies to our WordPress design business.

For ages now, we have had to target someone for business. This idea of targeting prospects is as old as business itself.

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In the last several years, along comes “inbound marketing.” The concept creates the idea of attracting prospects to us. While I really really like this idea, it doesn’t always work out this way.

To be sure, there are some things you can do to attract prospects to your email inbox, but in the meantime, you have to make a living.

So this stands to reason, who are you going to target?

Now, many people start in their business targeting “everyone.” The experts will tell us this is a mistake.

But what are you going to do? You have to pay your bills, so you need to target someone.

Targeting everyone can be difficult because you have to have generic messaging. Generic messaging doesn’t target anyone.

But, I am under the idea that it takes time to figure out your target market. It rarely happens from day one.

Unless…

Unless you are my friend, Darrell, having a target market from day one is very rare.

You see, Darrell began his website design business targeting the very industry from which he came.

He worked in sales for the copier dealer industry. So, when he started creating websites, he targeted the industry he knew. He was, after all, a salesman that understood the necessity of having a target audience.

Having a target audience is crucial to your messaging. It is also crucial to who you target as a prospect.

So let’s break it all down. How does one decide on a target audience?

Many businesses say they target “anyone interested in my services.” Some say they target small-business owners, homeowners, or stay-at-home moms. All of these targets are too general.
Mandy Porta, Source: Inc.com

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Who is your ideal client profile?

This might be the most obvious place to look. However, it doesn’t always work out because of certain negatives.

For example, your current customers may not be good. They may not have a good budget, they may be hard to work with, and they may not be good for your business’s future.

Nevertheless, start with your current customers. Now, take a look at the list.

Are there any customers who stand out as the kind you liked to work with? What about them, do you like?

Knowing who your perfect or ideal customer is gives you the foundation for scaling up growth. It lets you stop wasting time on the folks who aren’t a good fit and instead focus on those who will get the most value from what you offer.
Josh Pigford, Baremetrics

Identify the common threads.

Why did you like working with them?

From here, you can create a profile of what makes an ideal customer for you.

At this point, you might want to spend some time conducting interviews with them to find out what makes you the ideal business for them.

Further reading about Ideal Client Profiles:

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels
Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

To niche or not to niche

Next comes the question every agency asks themselves. Do we find a niche, or do we help anyone?

It is, without a doubt, at times, a difficult question to answer.

So much of it depends on your unique situation. If you are, like Darrell (see above), coming directly from a specific market, you may already have a niche.

Recently, in a presentation for the WP Agency Summit, I defined a niche as

“Niche is where your differentiation and your target market come together.”

I believe that. Differentiation is another element to this whole target audience thing.

Many people think a niche is an industry.

Consider this from Michael Killen in his book Five Figure Funnels,

When we go after a niche, the first place our mind races to is an industry. We think accountants, lawyers, architects, builders, restaurants, manufacturing, taxis, travel, tourism, and catering. We immediately define the potential niches as segments defined by industries. Going after an industry will kill your marketing funnel business. (Kindle, Location 174)

Killen goes on to give you examples of other segments that aren’t niches. This is because he has a specific idea of a niche.

“A niche is a problem you solve or a result you get for a group of people with certain characteristics that no one else wants to serve.” (Kindle, Location 357)

I think this is an ideal way of looking at your niche. I also think it takes time to get there.

How it often looks is like this.

We start our website design business selling our services. We find someone to take a chance on us and pay us to make a website. You find more. You get referrals and move forward. After a few years in business, you look back at the customers you have served.

You begin to determine the type of customer you like to work with. You make a list of those characteristics, and you begin to refine your target market. They may or may not all be in a particular industry.

Our expert friends are telling us to do something that often takes a decade to implement. Sometimes it doesn’t.

We can, after all, choose a niche or market and get started marketing to them. We are not bound to stay with that market for the rest of our business.

Resource: Five Figure Funnels: How To Sell Marketing Funnel Services To Your Customers For Five Figures In Any Market, No Matter Your Experience

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Are you location dependent?

In a day in which business is global because of the internet, some companies are very local. I call them local businesses.

That is not to say they can’t have customers in other places, but mostly, they serve a particular area by geography.

A website design business is definitely something that can be local. In the last few years, I have done business with someone in Canada and someone in Australia. Many of my Website Copy Framework customers are from other countries as well.

Nevertheless, some of us live in large enough cities that we can find all of the clients we want without leaving the area.

In fact, you can serve those local businesses as a target market.

Geography can be something that further refines your market. Some people are happy working with businesses in their city. If that is you, carry on.

Wrapping it all up

I can’t say I have all of the answers. Like you, I know what the business experts tell us. Who among us hasn’t heard them several times over?

As I always recall, context matters a lot.

No one way will apply to all of us. Some web designers are happy working with the local businesses helping them take advantage of all digital marketing opportunities.

Other web designer agencies want to focus on one target audience, discover their problems, and build solutions. This will allow them to scale their business.

There are pluses and minuses to either. By the way, the guys at WP Builds discuss this little debate in a podcast.

However, the key takeaway is to determine who YOUR target audience is, what they struggle with, and how you can help them in their businesses.

So, let me ask you this question.

Who is your target audience?

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