“Who’s your target audience?”
Lately, I’ve been asking a lot of designers that question because I’ve been offering 5 business critiques per month lately and that means digging deep into how designers build and market their businesses.
But I’m worried.
Because the most common answer I get is something like:
“Anyone who needs logo design, I guess.”
And I have bad news for anyone who gives that sort of answer:
You’re going about it all wrong!
See, it’s your job as an entrepreneur to DEFINE your target audience, not let it define itself. Then, once you define who your target audience is, you go after them, hunt them down, and convince them you’re the perfect designer for them to work with.
In my first post of the new year, I asked GDB readers to contribute a few questions and topics they’d like covered in 2012. Tristan wrote:
“I’ve been freelancing for just over a year now, doing well, building a client base etc.
What I’m struggling with now is how really focus the services to figure out my target market…”
So why can’t your audience just be “Anyone looking for (fill in your specialty here)”?
Here’s the right way to do it
Today I want to share with all of you the quickest way to define and build your target audience:
STEP 1: FIGURE OUT YOUR NICHE
Take a step back and evaluate what you’re really good at–and I mean really good. Because there are a million designers out there who can do mediocre work in all areas of design. But if you can specialize in something and just knock it out of the park, that will set you apart and make you shine when approaching potential clients.
STEP 2: SUPER-NICHE IT!
Finding your niche isn’t enough. You’ve got to superniche next. That means if you specialize in web design, superniche down to web design for non-profits or web design for Fortune 500 companies. (See how we’re starting to get a better idea of our target audience already? Instead of “anyone who needs a site designed” we now search out “non-profit companies who need a new web site”.
You can even super-niche it further focusing on non-profits that need a redesign instead of a site built from scratch. Or non-profits that need a redesign, have a budget of $2,000 or more and have been in business for at least 5 years.
Niche down as far as you can.
STEP 3: FIND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Next, you need to find your target audience and figure out if there are enough of them to keep you in business.
If there are, find out where they spend time online, what advertisements reach them the best (newspapers, community newsletters, forums, social media) and then get involved in those spaces.
STEP 4: FOCUS ON YOUR AUDIENCE
Just because you’ve defined your target audience doesn’t mean you can NEVER accept work from anyone else. At the end of the day, money is money and work is work.
But you’ll find you’re spending your time and money more effectively if you focus your marketing efforts solely on your target audience.
Sure, you’ll get spill over. But focus on your target.
Like a dart board
Have you ever thrown darts at a dart board? If you have then you can imagine exactly what I’m saying here:
You always put your full effort into hitting the target, but you will always have a few darts in random places on the board. These darts still bring you points and your other clients still bring you income.
But you always want to shoot for the target.
Are you going to do it?
If you take action today, I promise you’ll start seeing more clearly how you can grow your design business more quickly and start making more money doing more of what you really love.
Share with me who you think your super-niched target audience is by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear what you think!
Written by Preston D Lee Preston is the founder of GDB, a designer, programmer, marketer, and entrepreneur.