12 Oct Specializing Is Not About Excluding, It’s About Targeting
Many people have a deep fear of putting a stake in the ground when it comes to their niche. They may have an idea of who they want to work with, but there is a fear around committing to that on their web copy and materials. Today I aim to put that fear to rest and show you why finding (and claiming) your niche is important.
I recently had a kick-off meeting where my client and I were discussing their homework to ensure we’re on the same page before we start working on their branding together. They had a very vague response in their “who is your ideal client” question, so I made it a point to delve a little deeper. They were able to give me a little more detail, but I noticed that any specifics they gave me were quickly followed by some sort of “but we don’t want to exclude anyone” statement.
Specializing and defining your ideal client is not about excluding, it’s about targeting the people you want to work with. [Tweet This]
Defining your niche is not a set-in-stone sentence that you must adhere to or risk penalty of death (or death of your business, so to speak). If your ideal client is a woman in her mid 40s, it does not mean you can’t work with a 30 year old man if you’re a good fit for one another. All it means, is that when you’re writing your site copy, creating promotional materials and designing collateral, you have someone in mind who you want to appeal to. Does your ideal person like bold graphics or subdued visuals? Do they like sass when they’re reading a blog post or to they prefer factual content?
By choosing to attract a certain type of client, you’re not excluding anyone else. If someone sees your content and they see something in your brand that speaks to them, they’ll still reach out to even if they’re not who you imagined would be contacting you.
Speaking to your ideal client is like filling out a birthday card for your best friend
I know, it’s a weird analogy, but hear me out. Imagine Olivia is your best friend. You have known her for 10+ years and you spend a lot of time together. You know each other’s secrets, have a ton of inside jokes and are, of course, celebrating her birthday together. Writing a heart-felt message for her, whether you’re an expert wordsmith or not, is easy. You have so much love for her that the words probably just flow and before you know it you’re running out of room on the card.
On the flip side, imagine you’re in a large company and it’s someone’s birthday in another department you hardly ever work with. Someone passes you a birthday card to sign and murmurs who it’s for as they’re walking away. You already forgot what the person’s name was (Ellen) and you vaguely remember what she looks like, let alone the things she likes. So you probably write something like “Happy birthday, girl, have a great one!”
Who do you think is going to feel touched by your message, Olivia or Ellen? Who do you think will feel seen and heard and want to spend more time with you? You have to know who you want to speak to in order to know what to say to them.
Here’s what this all looks like in real life
With topics like this, I find it’s most useful when you can reference a real-life example, so I’ll share how having a target market has helped me personally in various scenarios.
My Ideal Client
I craft engaging, intuitive branding & websites for purpose-driven entrepreneurs. I work primarily with women in the personal development industry. The client I tend to target and get projects from is a coach, speaker, incorporates some sort of holistic modality in her services or has a business that gives back to the community in some way. She has been working on her business long enough that she is ready to up-level her branding & website to more authentically represent what she has to offer her own clients. My person is decisive and prefers bolder graphics. She is communicative and has set time aside to develop her branding because she understands that having a cohesive, intentional brand is important. My signature offer is to provide a comprehensive brand. This includes logo design, website development and collateral materials. Let’s see how this plays out in various scenarios…
When someone who IS my ideal client reaches out
Because my site copy is speaking directly to this person, she feels heard. She knows I understand what she needs and that I have created an offering that’s perfect for her. She has already seen my services and is ready to discuss her project. At this point she and I will have a meeting to go over the design process, make sure we’re on the same page as to what her goals are and how I can help her achieve them.
This process is pretty smooth because she already knows she wants to work with me, and I already know that I can help her.
Someone who IS NOT my ideal client, but is a GOOD fit
A while back, a potential client reached out to me who already had her own branding. She only needed help with her website design. Because her business aligned with my ideal client and because she and I vibed well, this was not a problem. I was open and willing to work on an a la cart option for her and only design her website. She later hired me for other collateral materials and I still work with her from time to time.
In this instance, this person liked my work and content and while my signature offer was a little more than she needed, she still felt comfortable enough to reach out to me.
Someone who IS NOT my ideal client and is a POOR fit
Another potential client reached out with a project that was not in alignment with who I work with or what I have to offer. He was referred by a past client and needed packaging design for their new hair color system. They had about 6 items to start with, so they needed a logo and design for 2 different sized boxes to hold their products.
While I have worked with packaging in the past, I no longer offer this service. The project had a very tight turnaround and they clearly just wanted something quick and cheap. I politely declined and referred them to someone I thought might be a better fit.
Just because someone reaches out to me, doesn’t mean that I take on any project that comes my way. Being clear on who I would ideally want to work with and what type of services I am willing to offer them, helps me decide when to say yes, but also, when to say no.
Think back to the brands that you love. Whether it’s a product, a service or blogger whose content you enjoy following along with, there is something about how they speak and what they say that resonates with you. That’s why you keep coming back. That’s why you love what they offer. I’m willing to bet that these folks have a very clear ideal client in mind and they are not afraid to own it!
Do you have your ideal client in mind? Hopefully, this article has alleviated some of the angst around taking a stronger stand for your brand. If you have your ideal client already in mind, let the world know! And if you don’t, let me help you define it. You can download my Defining Your Brand & Business workbook from my Creative Resource Library.
As your business evolves, your ideal client might evolve too, so check in with yourself from time to time to ensure you’re still talking to who you want to work with. Feel free to share your ideal client below or ask any questions I can help clarify!