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Choosing a Target Market? 3 Mistakes to Avoid and 3 Tips to Follow

So you want to be an entrepreneur?

You know you have something useful to share with the world, and that you can make a difference.

Your steps are filled with purpose. You have chosen that ‘can do’ mindset. You are ready and willing to give whatever it takes to get your success.

Done wondering if you are marvelous or mad, you have searched deep inside yourself asking – is this really possible for me?

And you have come through with a ‘yes!’ Sure you’ve hit a few snags along the way but you are still feeling that resounding ‘yes!’

But with your early failures behind you, it’s time for that turn in the road. It’s time to head in the direction of your business dream.

All you have to do now is find your target market and begin to build your tribe.

Simple, yes? And yet, right now, it feels just about impossible.

When Did This All Get So Hard?

You have accepted and know that your niche is the cornerstone of your business. And so far, despite all your hard work, you can’t seem to figure it out.

How are you supposed to move forward, when you can’t even get this first step right?

After months of hard work, the vision of your successful business hasn’t materialized.

And worse than that, in the fuzzy haze of misadventure your confidence has evaporated, your energy has dissipated, and the money you had set aside to take you through the startup phase of your business is spent.

So, while not making any significant progress towards your dream is bad, your situation is even worse: your head is now filled with doubts.

You begin to ask questions like:

What was I thinking? I must be crazy to believe I could run my own business?

OR

Who am I to think I have anything to offer to anyone else?

And from there you find yourself quickly moving to:

What’s the point? I might as well go and find a job.

So what is the REAL problem here?

Chances are, you, like so many other new entrepreneurs, have made one or more of the following (all too common) mistakes.

Mistake #1 – You Don’t Have a Clear Audience

You know your solution is going to be a game changer for sooooo many people. You know other people have solutions that just fit a few, but yours is different. Your solution is useful for everyone.

When you decide that your audience is everyone… then you serve no one.Click To Tweet

If your solution is for everyone, then it just appears as if it is for no one in particular.

Think about this for a minute.

If I am over 55, and I need to lose weight but I am sensitive about going to a gym would I choose someone who specialized in weight loss for the over 55 crowd, or someone who deals in weight loss for everyone?

Am I more likely to trust person X or person Y.

Person X tells me they specialize in helping the over 55s stay in shape. Person Y, on the other hand has a broader reach and says they can help everyone including teenagers, sports professionals, business professionals, and of course the over 50s.

I will most likely gravitate towards person X who specializes in weight loss for the clear target audience of people over 55 because one, I feel more comfortable with someone who obviously targets the group I am in. And two, I will most likely see this person as the real expert I want.

Not expressing a clear idea of exactly WHO your solution is for causes many people to look elsewhere to find the person for whom they are the obvious audience.

Mistake #2 – You Don’t Have a Clear Offer

When you decide you can offer almost anything then you have a problem, because neither you nor anyone else knows exactly what solution you are offering to them.

While you may say things like, “I can offer coaching” or “I can offer online training, to help you grow personally and improve your life in any way you want” – it amounts to a confusing offer.

And as Tad Hargrave says, “The confused mind says NO.”

People must have a clear idea of WHAT you are offering.

A specific solution to a specific problem allows people to self-identify as your customer with a confident YES!

If your potential client is left thinking “maybe” then they are less likely to give you their money.

Mistake #3 – You Don’t Have a Clear Outcome

People need to get the point of the solution – they need to understand the ‘what for?’ This then becomes the reason WHY they must choose you.

Let’s take weight loss as an example.

What is the benefit of weight loss? You might think it’s so obvious that it doesn’t need an explanation.

But wait! It may not be obvious to the person you are targeting. You need to sell them the benefits.

Think about it this way. There are lots of overweight people out there. This tells you that up until now nothing has presented itself to help them change, or nothing they have tried has worked.

So what might you ‘sell’ them as an outcome that they can expect if they invest in your weight loss program? The list of benefits could include things like:

  • attracting a life partner
  • wearing a bikini on the beach
  • being able to bend over to play with grandchildren

Any one of these benefits is more attractive than just the idea of losing weight.

The one you would choose as a winning benefit depends on what you know about your target market, and which benefits would be the most valuable for them.

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Challenging

Now that you’ve identified the mistakes that have been holding you back, it’s time to start moving forward again.

There are 3 steps that you can take to avoid the mistakes we covered above, and to move you forward toward building that business you’ve been dreaming of.

Step 1: Create a Clearly Defined, Narrow Target Audience

What is a target market/audience? Loosely defined, it is a group of people.

What’s an example of a target market? Let’s start with people who would identify themselves as “Moms.” For your purposes, a narrow target audience is a group of people seeking a solution you can provide.

For example: “Moms of small children looking to lose the baby weight.”

When thinking about a target audience, you want a precisely defined group. And, you want to trigger instant recognition of membership in that group – of being an ‘us’ rather than a ‘them’.

‘That’s me, count me in!’ is the response you are looking for from those you want in your tribe. When they know who they are, and you know who they are, then the engagement can begin.

Step 2: Create a Clearly Defined, Specific and Timely Solution

Once you know the problem you want to solve, then you want to make a specific offer that is easily understood and appropriate for your tribe.

Imagine your tribe suffers from feeling tired and sluggish in the afternoons due to overwork. You could create solutions that help them to work less.

However, while it might be true that they are working too hard, they may not be ready to invest in working less. Instead what they may be ready for is a pick me up in the form of a vanilla latte to get them through the afternoon.

So, while you have found that the root cause of their problem is overwork, you still have to figure out whether they want to fix this issue now or fix the problems this issue is causing them.

Usually, people just want the symptoms solved initially; it is the symptoms that are bothering them the most.

Which is why your audience may be more ready to buy a vanilla latte with extra caffeine than to buy a way to change their work patterns. This will better help you decide what your offer should be.

Also… be specific.

While it can be tempting to offer an audience a vaguely defined solution to generally improve something, this is typically not appealing either. If your audience doesn’t know exactly what you are offering then they will not want to commit to buying.

If your audience knows what you are selling and it meets a need they recognize now, then they will most likely buy.

Step 3: Create a Clearly Defined Benefit Your Audience Will Want

To sell your tribe on investing in your solution, you’ll want to find a clearly defined benefit to promote.

So, outline a benefit that your group is attracted to, and one that is easy to understand. To accomplish this, you need to know what your target audience cares about – what they want.

Back to the weight loss idea – the young mom may not be that bothered about her extra weight until you remind her she wants to wear her bikini on the beach.

So there needs to be a clearly stated benefit – even for weight loss.

There needs to be a big WHAT FOR to be gained by our tribe when they invest in what we do.

Connecting the Dots, The ABC Way

Now you know how to avoid the 3 common mistakes that most everyone makes when first starting out.

If you have avoided those 3 mistakes then you have the ABCs on which to build your business.

Fill in your A, B and C below:

WHO – I work with A [fill in your narrow target market group of people]
WHAT – to give them B [fill in your specific and timely solution]
WHAT FOR – so that C occurs [fill in your benefit that this target niche group wants]

Now it’s time to validate your idea and start to move forward towards your business dreams!

Put like that – what is the ABC for your business? And which of those letters was the hardest to get in place for you? Let us know in the comments below.

About Lesley Taylor

Lesley Taylor pioneers success coaching, online business development, and academic success for students all around the world whilst simultaneously managing her own story-sharing business. If successfully sharing your story happens to be on your bucket list then count yourself in right here: http://countyourselfin.com/shareyourstory/

30 comments

  1. I’m on crane 3 developing my targeted product and networking. I’ve got about 25 unique visitors a day independant of search engines. I have been feeling like I am moving too slowly and discouraged. You give me hope! Thanks!

  2. A brilliantly evocative piece for entrepreneurs in all stages of business! I especially find that step ‘C’ is perhaps the most overlooked from amatuer marketing to professional big-business campaigns, something that clearly needs to be amended because ‘without a goal you can’t score’. Define your GOAL – so step ‘C’ = score!

    Thanks for blogging these insights 🙂

    1. Hey Tobias – glad you found my post insightful. My own experience teaching entrepreneurs suggests that you are correct in saying ‘C’ is the most overlooked. This outcome or benefit of the solution offered commonly remains unstated or at least understated to the detriment of the entrepreneurial business success. 😀

  3. Hi Lesley, this article couldn’t have come at a better time.

    I’ve just been working up a new lead offer and have my ‘Client Avatar’ but now realise that while I thought I’d picked a clearly defined niche, I am still too broad and that by refining it further along the lines you suggest then having really specific benefits that resonate with the potential client at an emotional level.

    I am now going back to avatar(s) and benefits and now am thinking about different landing pages tightly focused on that target, even though I will still be offering the same basic service.

    Thanks very much for your insights and sharing.

    1. Hey Mike, so glad my article came at a good time for you and that you are now getting your landing pages more tightly focused. Reach out if there is anything else we can help you with. 😀

  4. Hi Lesley–

    Thanks for this well composed article.

    I’ve a question (a problem for me). It’s about #2: Clearly specifying a product/service.
    How does this fit in with the “audience business” strategy in which the product is developed from engagement?

    Thanks,
    Don

    1. Hey Don, great question! I am glad you asked.

      Yes, you are right that you want to use your audience to co-create products so that your audience want these products they have had a part in creating, and for which they have already expressed a need.

      That said, before you can co-create anything you’ll want to have some idea of who you want to work with and the kinds of solutions you have some credibility around delivering.

      Let’s look at an example.

      Imagine you want to work with high school students who are trying to get into college.

      Once you have validated that this niche exists, that there are indeed high school students who want to get into college – then you have your A – your WHO – your target niche.

      You engage with your target niche to find out what the solution is that they are seeking. They may want help with passing exams, or with interview skills, or with career advice or something else. Engagement is important here, as you rightly suggest, to create your B – your WHAT. You then move on to the C – WHAT FOR as you continue to listen to your audience and learn what they really care about. Maybe most want to go to college to proudly hold a degree certificate, or to enjoy 4 years of further study, or for the lure of 4 years of apparent freedom. Whatever the “what for” is, this will be the benefit you tout in your messaging.

      Everything you do to develop your business will take account of what you learn from your audience – you iterate as you get feedback. However, your business is also built around you, who you are. Your audience are important to engage with for your product development, but the product you develop will also be shaped by who you are and the expertise you can bring.

      In sum, the clearer your ABC, the faster and easier it will be for you to craft your engagement with your audience, and then pivot where necessary. Be flexible but do not mistake fuzzy thinking in the beginning with flexibility. 😀

  5. Hey Lesley,

    The “who, what, and what for” summed up this whole article for me. One thing I can improve on is who I want to target. I have a clear idea of who, and I’ve been refining it more and more. It’s actually based on me, and I’m targeting those people who leads a similar lifestyle that I do.

    By doing this it makes it easier for me to relate to others in my audience. Bit at the same to I still look for answers to see how my content and products/services I promote will relate to myself and above all my audience. Answering those questions really helps with this!

    Thanks for the share Lesley and I hope you enjoy the weekend!

    1. Hey Sherman, thanks for letting me know where in your business adventure, the “who, what and what for” you want to sharpen your focus. And if you yourself represent the “who” around which you are developing your business then you still will want to be sure to check in with others in your target niche, to find out what benefits this niche really want, and therefore what you can do for them. “Ask your audience” is key as you move forward, as is a good measure of rest and relaxation – I am having a great weekend! Thanks for asking. 😀

  6. This is like it’s written for me! Exactly where I’m finding myself, though I’m still in a dizzy-joy-haze at actually even knowing what I believe I want to do! It’s this odd thing that, intellectually, this all makes sense. On the ground it’s like I’m catching up with what I know because, ultimately, the solution must come from me although I’m so grateful to you Lesley and everyone who’s taken enough of an interest in my work to say something that’s helped me move forward. I’m holding my breath a bit now …trying not to panic …and to keep steadily working each day. Lx

    1. Hey Leah, if you are feeling that this is written for you then I succeeded. My message is to entrepreneurs just like yourself; you who are on the brink of creating a business to sustain your own adventures, craft your own way of best serving the world and uncover your purpose. You are right though, that what we know and what we are able to implement are not always or even mostly the same thing. Making a move on what we know is a choice. I know you have the courage to choose well. Keep breathing. Just move on it. 😀

  7. Hey Lesley,

    I think building an audience is a key foundation for each business. Very useful article, sharing a clear formula that brings structure to the audience identification process.

    I love the simplicity of the A,B,C model.

    In addition to the great tips, I think it would be awesome if you also shared an example, such as the “A, B, C” for Firepole Marketing.

    Cheers,
    Eugene

    1. Hey Eugene, thanks for your comments. Glad you found the ABC model clear and that you liked its simplicity. I liked the suggestion that the ABC for Firepole be identified but rather than me do it – let’s see if others will take a stab at it. Do you want to be the first among ‘others’? Not to put you on the spot! 😀

      1. Hey Lesley,

        I’d say that for FirepoleMarketing we have:

        WHO – I work with small business owners
        WHAT – to give them effective ways to build and monetize an audience
        WHAT FOR – so that they enjoy a thriving biz that enables them to grow their level of freedom and their wealth, whilde doing something meaninful

        Sooo…how is it in reality? 🙂

        Cheers,
        Eugene

        1. Hey Eugene, I reckon you have it pretty much covered – Great Job! And thanks for rising to the challenge! I’d love it if you would also take a moment to let me know of your own entrepreneurial adventures and how the ABC model fits there too. 😀

          1. Thanks for the question, Lesley!

            I help entrepreneurs build profitable blogs and businesses online, so that they do what they love, while enjoying financial freedom.

            Have an awesome day 🙂
            Eugene

  8. Hey Lesley, great post. I love your ABC approach – very simple and doable. I was also thinking, this is a great approach to developing a Mission statement for your business. If you’re clear about who you work for, how they benefit and the big “why” behind it all, then you can really start defining the purpose behind your business. This is a great exercise for my business planning and coaching clients. Thanks!

    1. Hey Jessica, so glad you love my ABC approach. From teaching students inside Firepole and teaching the young entrepreneurs I work with in my own business I noticed that these mistakes I outline here were the all time ‘favorite’ mistakes. Now I use this ABC exercise and I find it keeps my students on track because it makes the big picture so very clear. I hope your business planning and coaching clients like it too. Have fun with it. 😀

  9. Well, Lesley, there you go again…literally hitting the nail on the head. ☺

    You have done that for me repeatedly as my student advisor and I have appreciated it. This article does a great job reaffirming I have been taking the right steps. I just need to keep “stepping.”

    By the way, the links to the related posts were outstanding. Thanks for that extra perspective.

    1. Hey Gary, thanks, you are always very generous with your appreciation. I am glad you liked my post – and yes you are on the right track building your own audience business. You listen well, implement effectively and steadily take ground. I’m looking forward to seeing your own work continue to thrive and to seeing you serve an even larger tribe with surprising ways to hack a business mindset for success. Here’s to your own very great success! 😀

    1. Hey David, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. So happy you found this ‘clear and powerful’ – it means I am modelling what I am aiming to teach, that our messages be clear and powerful for maximum impact. 😀

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