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When I first started my business I was so wary of niching down and targeting just one type of customer. Family members even expressed their own concerns and told me I should be taking on any work I could get, no matter who or where it was coming from.
However, taking on ALL the work never sat right with me. Although I was wary, I thought, why am I starting my own business if I'm just going to be doing work that I don't enjoy? I may as well be working for someone else if I'm going to do that. I read about businesses that had niched down early on and seen great results in building their brand.
So I decided I had to put faith in my ability to do great work and begin to turn down projects that didn't align with my vision of what I wanted to work on.
One big thing that allowed me to turn down some work in the beginning was the fact that I was still working as a freelance designer at a marketing agency. So although I wasn't 'employed' as such, I was working full time.
The hours and money were regular, but I could leave any time I wanted because there was no contract in place and they were flexible when I wanted to reduce my hours to focus more on Lemon & Birch too. Similarly if the hours suddenly went away they would just tell me I wasn't needed so it went both ways.
I was really lucky in finding that freelance design work as soon as I quit my permanent employment as it would have been much more difficult to turn down work I was offered via Lemon & Birch otherwise. I do always say I was lucky, BUT the freelance work didn't find me, I was pro-active in talking to people and enquiring about opportunities - I truly believe you make your own luck!
I fully advocate having some other kind of income in the early stages of your business. no matter what type of business you're building. It can be so hard building something out of nothing, so having that safety net of some regular income allows you to set the vision for your business early on and only do the things and take on the work that aligns with that vision.
This means the foundation of your brand is strong and consistent right from the beginning, setting you up for success!
With all that said, let's get into those 3 reasons you should definitely identify an ideal customer for your business - whether you're service or product based.
1. Identifying and understanding your customer can help you to sell more.
Every business will find that there are some customers that are more valuable to them than others, whether that's because they're easier to work with, they spend more with you, or they buy more often - these are just a handful of reasons!
Once you have a good idea of the clients and customers that do the most for you, it makes it way easier to find more people that are the same as them that will also love your business.
Generally, successful businesses are those that identify who their customer is, build relationships with them, and then work to find more people that are similar. It's the perfect recipe for a growing tribe of die-hard fans, brand advocates, and repeat customers!
You'll also find it much easier to come up with new product offerings that also align with the needs and wants of your core audience.
2. You can market your business more efficiently.
I'm all about the 'less is more' motto. Nobody has the time or money to market their business on every available avenue, and you absolutely don't have to if you know who your customer is.
You can be super clever about where, when, and how you market your business. You can work out where your customer spends their time; is it on Facebook, twitter, or instagram that they hang out? Are they searching for your product of service via Google or via Pinterest? Do they prefer to read blog posts or listen to podcasts?
If there are places they just don't go then there is no point focussing any effort there. You can feel great about cutting that marketing avenue out and it will save you time and money, and give you some much needed headspace.
3. Writing all the copy for your business becomes ten times easier - from web copy, to product descriptions, to social media captions.
The most compelling copy speaks to one single person. Think about which emails you're more likely to feel a connection to. Is it those that say "Hi Everyone", or those that use your name and speak only to you?
When you have a clear picture of your customer it becomes easier to write copy that speaks only to them and makes them feel that you understand them. They should feel that you have an answer to their problem or pain point, or that you've made the product just for them.
The quote below from Alan Jacobson really sums this up for me from the perspective of your customer.
Make a difference in my life
Surprise me often
Give me more than I paid for
Show me you love me”
– Alan Jacobson
We all just want to know that we are understood, and as a small business you have an amazing opportunity to be that person that understands. You're not a faceless corporation, you can build real and honest relationships, from a genuine desire to help your customer and give them what they want.
Once you have your first few sales you can begin to build up a bank of words and phrases that your most valued customers use and build them into your copy. How they describe your product or service should be how you describe it too if you want to attract more of the same valuable people.
It's important to understand that targeting a certain type of person doesn't mean you will only ever sell to that person. You will not instantly repel all the people that don't perfectly align with the ideal.
Creating a customer profile will help you with all the things I've covered above, but there will always be people that don't align at every single point of your profile. That's ok.
Some will align with parts of your profile and will resonate with parts of what you share, and that will be enough for them to buy from you. There is still value in these people. However, you always want to be trying to attract more of that core audience that do the most for you.
The people that sing your praises, tell their friends, share your work on social media, write you glowing reviews. These are your people and they want to know that you understand them and love them back!
Next time we'll cover exactly how to begin to build a customer profile along with my top tips for making this person seem more real and tangible so it's easier to get inside their head and think like them!
If you're looking to brand or rebrand your business I'd love to hear from you! Send me a message here.
If you're not quite ready to dive into professional branding, you can download my FREE branding guide - The Blossoming Brand Blueprint. Download it here.