As a creative professional, you know the impact of branding, market differentiation, and design, on your clients’ business. But what about your own business? Have you established your own brand positioning? Do you really recognize and understand your own target audience?
When you try to work on your own branding, marketing, messaging, or differentiation, do you get confused and overwhelmed? Do you find it so challenging to achieve consensus with the key players in your firm that your business stagnates? Establishing brand positioning is incredibly difficult when you are your own client and almost impossible when you don’t clearly understand your audience. Grab the target audience worksheet here.
Step away from your comfort zone
It’s tempting to position yourself as a ‘Jack of all trades’ ready to take on any challenge and help every client succeed, but being all things to all people is tough in today’s very crowded marketplace. It’s a bold – and sometimes frightening – step to pinpoint a target audience and go after it, but it may be just what your firm needs to succeed. Most business I work with are reluctant to choose a specific audience, fearing they will lose out on business opportunities from other sectors. But once they begin to understand their audience more deeply, they soon begin to reap the rewards of specialization.
Understand your best clients
You may find a target audience that is a very clear fit with your firm, right under your nose. I have one client who did 80% of their work with boutique hotels, yet continued to take on whatever work was going, spending time and money trying to be all things to all people. Once they decided to focus their attention and new business efforts exclusively on the boutique hotel sector, their new message drew new clients to them, and the time they spent with one client was directly transferable to others.
If a specific market sector does not seem to be a good fit with your firm, think about the client types you work with successfully. For example, you may find that you connect well with CEOs or marketing directors and are more successful when you tailor your message specifically to these roles.
Start making a list
Want a clue about who you might want to target? Write a description of your top 5 clients. What do they have in common? How much of your annual revenue did they generate? Are they easy to work with? Are they all in the same kind of business? Does the work you do for them build your reputation or increase your expertise in a specific industry? Do they have the same position within a company or the same way of working with you? As you focus your attention on these top 5 clients, you may find that they have more in common than you thought – and that their similarities help you differentiate your business and develop a successful target market
Talk – and listen.
Once you know who you’re speaking to, stakeholder interviews can help you learn more about the messages that will resonate with them. Using the boutique hotel firm as an example, stakeholder interviews with marketing directors at several boutique hotels showed that “keeping rooms filled” was a top concern for all of them. Knowing this, we were able to design and implement marketing campaigns focused specifically on filling rooms. Within 4 months of inbound marketing, my client started getting calls from prospects who said: “You understand our business and we want to talk to you about a project”. Does it get any better than that?
Want new business? Start now
New business doesn’t usually ‘just happen’, it takes time, planning, and thoughtful analysis to stand out from the crowd, understand who you and your best clients are, and attract the new clients you’re after. The first step? Start now and take a good hard look at your business, your clients, and the kind of people you want to work with. For more clarity, grab the target audience worksheet here.