In our previous blog
Want an even more in depth look at some ideal client exercises? Check out a free training we have on that and 2 other key pieces you’ve gotta nail to see your design business grow.
Pre-S: One thing to keep in mind before you move to far forward in your messaging, is that you shouldn’t just do target market research once.
Demographics in general can stay the same for decades, but your audience still changes in terms of their language, problems, morals, values, and goals. Think about your grandmother’s goals if she had a “mom and pop” business compared to yours online. A sampling of both of you in your 30’s might have some similarities but almost nothing would be the same when considering things like language, goals and business problems.
So, keep studying them.
Let me tell you a secret (not really a secret) that either no one told me… or others are afraid to share… some of this audience digging starts with an educated guess. There I said it. It’s not a concrete answer. You can guess about some of it. That doesn’t mean you skimp on your research, it just means when you dig and dig and need a few answers to a few more things, you wing it in that area until you get the answer.
For example, you know in your mind the type of client or customer you think that you want to work with, right? If you don’t sell anything yet, you might need to make an educated guess in that instance.
If you do book clients successfully already you can look at the stats to find out who’s buying. What do you like about them? What needs to change about them?
Create an Ideal Customer Profile
Define their likely age, gender, income level, location, and any other characteristics that make them an ideal customer. These are pretty basic ones, knock those out first.
Then next, for example, do they have children, are they members of certain ethnic groups, have a specific religion, share hobbies and interests and so forth? You want a very specific picture of your ideal customer in mind so that you can start searching.
Thirdly, what are their goals, dreams, how do they see their business in a few years? These last few questions I’ve found actually outline much more the TYPE of person I’d like to work with, more than their age or how much money they make.
Someone who takes their business seriously.
Who’s sees the value in having someone on their team.
Who knows their zone of genius isn’t everything under the sun.
People who aren’t afraid to invest in their business.
Those are some of the traits I look for in an “ideal client”.
Research Your Audience
Once you’ve developed your ideal customer profile (some call it an avatar) you can then start researching your audience more to ensure that you’ve
Again, a secret that’s not to secret. If you THINK you want it to be one type of person, and you get to digging and you figure out actually they aren’t your ideal client, its OK TO SWITCH IT UP.
I actually used to target more of the Maker Community with my marketing efforts. After really researching them and talking to more of them it kept coming up that they really wanted to DIY things (duh Makers!). I was needing to be more of a DIY resource guide than someone who would do it all for them and take a huge load off of their shoulders (which is who I wanted to be for someone). So I gradually backed out of marketing toward makers and hobbyists and started my words and website toward the Home and Design Industry, which I have a degree in.
Conduct surveys, interviews, and even observe in facebook and other online groups to help you get to know them more. You can also survey past clients to ensure that you’ve got the right audience too.
Join Your Audience Where They Are
As you conduct your research you’re going to discover that your audience hangs out in different places both online and offline. When you join them in their favorite groups and other environments you become like a fly on the wall and observe. You can also become a participant and learn what they’re learning too.
This is exactly what I did in February of this year. I researched conferences for my target market and went to one. You might think that was an expensive move for “research” but I assure you it was worth every penny.
I went to the Design Influencers Conference specifically to learn what Interior Designers and Online Influencers were learning about, got to listen to their struggles, and meet some really sweet people. The session titles alone were a goldmine of things I now know they’re interested in (like affiliate sales, and brand partnerships).
Research Your Competition
Another way to find more people who fit your Ideal Client Profile is to find who your competition is and observe them. Sign up for their email lists, buy a product from them, and join the groups they are part of so that you can see how they engage with their audience since it’s the same or similar to your ideal audience.
When it comes down to it, your audience is who you want them to be. O
If you think you need to dig deeper into the process of nailing your “ideal client”, we talk about this for a good 20-30 minutes out of a whole 1 hour training. It’s free and geared totally toward home and design industry pros! (because I did my research 🙂 )
PS- Give your “Ideal Client” a name, a personality, an outlook on life, and even a job if that helps you to relate to them better. Soon you’ll be able to find them, get to know them, and serve them better than you ever would have before doing all that research.