Finding your target audience (and finding the courage to stick to it)

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Anyone who has worked with me knows how much I bang on about the importance of target audiences.

Know who your target audience or audiences are, and focus on talking to them. Don’t worry about everyone else!

The more specific the better!

Yes, there might be more people in a different area, but if they don’t care about what you do or sell, then there’s no point caring about them!

And like a lot of people, I find it much easier to tell other people what I think they should do than to do it myself…

When I first started working for myself as Scout, I knew that I wanted to offer the full gamut of digital and social media marketing services. From strategy development, to implementation, training and management, across websites, SEO, online advertising, email marketing and social media.

This was for two reasons:

  1. I know about all of these aspects of digital marketing, and enjoy working with them.
  2. Many of them are related, and it makes sense to me that a business can source them from a single entity rather than get their SEO from one place, social media from another etc.

So I knew what I wanted to do, but in regards to who I would do it for? I’d take anyone!

And that is true of most people who work for themselves, and many people in business.

I was fortunate to pick up a few clients early on, and receive a steady flow of enquiries and referrals from them. I said yes to everything, and trusted that I would soon find my niche.

At the end of the first financial year of Scout’s operation, I figured it was a good time to review my projects and clients and look for some patterns in what I was doing and who I was doing it for that would help me specialise (remember, I love dissecting data).

What I found was that I was providing a wide range of digital and social media marketing services (check!) to a wide range of clients… from a range of industries, sizes, locations etc…

So I kept going.

And told myself that this was a good thing, because I know that I tend to get bored easily, so this variety would keep me active and there would be learnings I could take from some businesses and industries and apply to others, without getting bogged down in doing the same things for the same types of people.

And while this is true, it is also really hard.

A huge part of working as a digital marketer, is actually not “working” but keeping abreast of updates, trends and opportunities, and developing existing and new skills, and unfortunately I don’t get paid for this.

And these differ again for different industries, so when working across multiple industries, the time required to constantly research and learn is multiplied (and the not getting paid is also multiplied).

And as much as I love what I do, I didn’t start a charity, I started a business.

A few unexpected things have occurred already this year that have forced me to do a bit of soul searching, and being a digital scout, some of my soul searching involves online searching, which brought me to this fantastic post by Penelope Trunk.

I persevered with the first few paragraphs about farming because I really wanted to know what the title promised me: 5 Reasons I should specialise right now!

That cemented it.

I knew to have the energy and enthusiasm to keep going, I have to specialise. I’m not willing to compromise the breadth of services I offer, and I don’t feel I have an obvious geographic niche (nor feel it’s right for me), so I’ve made the choice to limit who I do it for.

There are obvious benefits to not only defining, but focusing on your target audience:

  1. You eliminate tyre-kickers and people who just don’t value, or understand what you offer
  2. You can better focus and use your time; it’s a great example of the Pareto Principle
  3. You build a stronger referral base; encouraging more relevant referrals who fit your target audience
The size of your audience doesn't matter. Keep up the good work.
I cannot find the original source of this image to credit it, but I really love it and believe it is relevant, so please excuse me. I’m not claiming that it’s mine…

Upon stringent review of my client list, I could see that the slight majority are in the construction, property and technology industries, which coincidentally, I’m also very interested in.

They also tend to be small to medium, owner-operated businesses, with no marketing person, let alone a team.

So that’s my niche:

Providing tailored digital and social media marketing services to small to medium owner-operated businesses in the construction, property and technology industries.

It might sound easy, but this decision has also required me to say good bye to a couple of existing clients AND “thanks but no thanks” to a few new enquiries. Which as a Very Small Business, is Very Difficult, though necessary.

Thankfully I have also received an enquiry from a business that is very much in my new target audience, and while writing this I received word that my SEO strategy proposal for them has been accepted!

via GIPHY

It’s a similar situation to the recommendation I make to clients about content updates; people will remember the type of work you do by what you share with them. So when sharing work-related updates on social media, enews or your blog, only share the type of work you WANT to focus on doing… otherwise you’ll keep getting everything else.

And there is an element of catch 22; I need to stay strong, and stay on track, to develop my target audience, and attract the right clients and projects to make it work.

Amidst all of this lingers the fear of how do I know I’m going in the right direction? That I’m on the right track? And how do I find the courage to stick to it!?

This blog post is part of my courage to “put it out there” and let people know who and what I’m focused on.

I also have:

  1. Strategy
  2. Confidence
  3. Faith

1. Strategy;

Thankfully I have a reminder everytime I look at my Scout logo; its a compass, signifying strategy. And a strategy is simply a plan for how to get from A to B.

Which might not be a straight line.

But I know where I want to go.

And that’s a very good start.

success-what-it-looks-like

2. Confidence;

I’m in awe of people who seem naturally confident. But through many conversations with people who outwardly appear to have it all together, many have admitted their fears to me, which in a strange way gives me confidence knowing that most people are uncertain some of the time.

Other things that give me confidence are recalling positive experiences with clients and projects, and the great results we have achieved (another benefit of quantifiable data).

3. Faith;

It may sound a bit oogedy-boogedy, or not very “professional” but from what I’ve read, heard, learnt and experienced over the years, a lot of success can be attributed to blind – sometimes stupid – faith.

Faith that you’re on the right path, you’re doing the right thing, and (eventually) good things will happen.

courage-quote

Looking back this blog post title may seem a bit misleading, as I am very much still a work in progress. Yes I’ve “found” my target audience, and I’m being courageous in my pursuit of them (armed with my strategy, confidence and faith) but I am yet to be “known” for it, and for them to “find” me.

What I also have now is a better understanding of what my clients feel when I recommend to just focus on their “target audience”, even those who have far higher overheads to consider.

It is scary.

But with ever growing choice and competition for many businesses, I still honestly, whole-heartedly believe that focusing your energy and attentions on those people who best suit your offering WILL yield rewards.

And if you don’t believe my blind faith, believe Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and his Hedgehog Concept.

Through his research and experience, Jim has identified that great companies are extremely selective about who they target, which significantly increases the odds that they can dominate that market.

jim-collins-hedgehog-concept

So I hope you join me on this journey.

Let’s find our target audiences, and be focused, courageous and great!

And if you are in the Construction, Property or Technology industries and would like to enquire about developing your online presence, please contact us.

Feature image via mliu92 on Flickr. It has been cropped from the original to suit this blog’s layout.

 

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