For as long as I have been in business helping other people in business, the fundamentally important exercise of choosing a target market comes up over and over again.
Let’s start by understanding the difference between your target market and your niche. If you’ve done other research or reading on the subject of building a service-based business, you may have heard both of these terms before, and you may have heard them used interchangeably. However, in the Book Yourself Solid system, they are not synonymous. There’s an important distinction between the two:
Your target market is the group of people you serve, and your niche is the service you specialize in offering to your target market.
For example, you and I might both serve the same target market, say, service professionals, but offer them different services. I might specialize in getting clients and you might help them create systems for their business.
There are three primary reasons to choose a target market.
- It helps you determine where to find potential clients who are looking for what you have to offer. If you have a target market, you know where to concentrate your marketing efforts and what to offer that is compelling and well received. You know what associations to speak to, magazines and journals to write for, and influential people with whom to network—you know where your potential clients gather. Voila! You now know where to show up.
- Virtually every target market already has some kind of network of communication established. For your marketing to work, your clients need to spread your messages for you. If they already have a network of communication set up, they can talk to each other about you and your marketing messages can travel that much faster. What are networks of communication? Environments that are set up to help a group communicate—as I mentioned earlier: associations, social networking sites, clubs, various publications, events, and more.
- And, finally, choosing a target market lets the people in that target market know that you’ve dedicated your life’s work to them.
In order to reach the people you’re meant to serve, you’ve got to know where to find them. That’s why an essential step is for you to identify a very specific target market to serve.
Marketing and sales isn’t about trying to persuade, coerce, or manipulate people into buying your services. It’s about putting yourself out in front of, and offering your services to, those whom you are meant to serve—people who already need and are looking for your services.
No matter how much you might like to be everything to everyone, it’s just not possible.
Even if you could be, you would be doing a disservice to yourself and your clients in the attempt. You can serve your clients much better, offer them much more of your time, energy, and expertise, if you narrow your market so that you’re serving only those who most need your services and who can derive the greatest benefits from what you have to offer.
If you’re just starting out in your business, or if you’ve been working in your business for a while but are not yet booked solid, you may be tempted to market to anyone and everyone with the assumption that the more people you market to, the more clients you’ll get. While narrowing your market to gain more clients may seem counterintuitive, that’s exactly what you need to do to successfully book yourself solid.
Think of narrowing your market this way: Which would you rather be—a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond? It’s much easier to carve out a very lucrative domain for yourself once you’ve identified a specific target market. And once you’re a big fish in a small pond, you’ll get more invitations than you can handle to swim in other ponds.
There are two primary ways to grow a service business.
- You can choose a target market and, over time, continue to add new products and services to this same target market. For example: if your target market is fitness professionals, and you’re currently offering them web design services, as you grow, you might start offering them search engine optimization services and then pay-per-click advertising services.
- Alternatively, once you get booked solid in one target market, you can begin to market and sell the same services in additional vertical target markets. So, if you currently serve wood floor manufacturers, you might offer the same services to manufacturers of tile flooring. Once you get a foothold in that market, you might then begin to focus on carpet manufacturers.
You might be thinking: “If I specialize and only work with a specific group of people, or specific types of companies within a specific industry, won’t that limit my opportunities? And what if I get bored?” Let me answer the second question first. If you’re someone who gets bored easily, you may have that problem no matter what you do. You may want to spend some time reflecting on why you’re not able to stay focused on what you’ve chosen to do. Or, it may be that you’ve chosen a target market that doesn’t excite you, that you aren’t passionate about or interested in.
Over time, you can move into other areas. When I started my business, I helped fitness and wellness professionals get booked solid. Once I was fortunate enough to create demand for my services, I leveraged the reputation I built servicing the fitness industry as a springboard into other vertical target markets, like financial services, and others. As you establish your expertise and reputation, if you choose, you can broaden your target market. (I now serve virtually every type of service professional because my reputation and proven track record affords me that advantage.)
But, if you want to increase your speed to getting booked solid, choose a very specific target market and stay with that target market until you are booked solid. Then you can move into other markets if you like or stay with your original focus and grow your product and service line.
If you need help with this, and you want MY help with this, then please do check out the Book Yourself Solid Mentoring Program. The price is about to go up and I’d hate for you to miss out.