I’m a big believer in building a business around a clearly defined target market. I’m not a believer in an ‘I think it’s a nice idea’ sort of way; it runs a little deeper.
- I believe that when you choose to work with a target client who energizes and inspires you, you’re more personally engaged.
- I believe that focusing your client experience on the needs of a defined target market not only makes you more efficient, but allows you to engage with clients on a deeper level.
- And I believe that when you respond to the unique needs of a target market, referrals increase.
Suffice it to say, I’ve given this issue some thought.
With that backdrop, I was excited to check out the website of an advisor who had shared with me that he had completely re-structured his business around his target clients. I was prepared to be dazzled.
At first blush, I thought I was in for something special. Right there on the home page was a description of the target, just like the ‘welcome mat’ I love to see on a website. The problem is, he didn’t have one welcome mat, he had three welcome mats.
- I work with women.
- I work with business owners.
- I work with families.
And in that moment, I was completely stuck.
I wasn’t stuck because I couldn’t relate to the target markets, but because I was a female business owner with a family. I fell into all three target groups and the impact was not to feel understood but to feel confused. In fact, by asking me to choose which path to go down, I felt that individual did not understand the complexity of my roles (nor the roles of thousands like me). I couldn’t choose one path.
Is There a Way to Make Multiple Target Markets Successful?
Does this mean you can’t work with multiple targets? Despite my rather strongly held views, I would say it’s possible, just not easy. More specifically, I think there are three factors that determine if you can be successful in working with more than one target.
- It takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy to truly meet the needs of a defined target market. For that reason, only firms with true scale have a chance of being successful. If you can create separate and defined teams, processes and offers for different target markets, then success is within your reach.
- If you do have the scale to effectively work with more than one target, then I’d suggest that they need to be aligned in some way. It would be confusing to see that you work with professional athletes and teachers, for example. However, you might focus on women and then drive that down to female business owners and female corporate executives.
- To the point highlighted by experience of feeling ‘stuck’, make sure your targets are mutually exclusive. Don’t make your clients work too hard to figure out which path they should pursue because they meet the criteria of all target markets.
Whatever target market you choose, I maintain that it needs to be a group you are passionate about serving. If you can’t authentically describe your target client – and explain why you work with those individuals – then start there. Once you’ve successfully and intentionally built a business around that ideal client, you might consider branching out.
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