I’ve quit my day job twice. The first time was a disaster because I neither had a plan for or understood online marketing. The second time has been a success, because I now understand online marketing. I understand my true customers and how to create products tailored to their needs and problems.
When I first quit my day job in 2010, I tried to be all things to all people. I threw a lot of product links into social media without any nibbles. I was discouraged, frustrated, and — frankly — scared about my lack of revenue. As a result, I went back to work after seven months.
Determined to make my business successful, I learned about online marketing. Finding my target market, defining my niche market, and understanding my ideal customers made all the difference.
The Difference Between Target and Niche Markets
Target market is a group of potential customers who share characteristics related to your product. For instance, “knitters” could be my target market.
Niche market further defines a target market. For instance, “beginning female knitters who love Etsy, ages 20 to 35, living in New England” is more defined.
When you define and understand your niche market, you can target your marketing efforts to that group of people.
Narrowing Your Niche Market
Further defining your niche market is crucial to finding your actual ideal customers — those who will become true fans for your business and products. A true fan wants to hear everything about your business, including sales, tutorials, and new product launches.
Posting product links 24/7 to thousands of non-targeted social media followers is unfocused and not likely to attract very many buyers. However, offering Coupon Codes for your mailing list of ideal customers is targeted and very likely to result in many sales.
I don’t need to tell you that promoting your business all day long is exhausting — it’s a lot of work for little return. Promoting is about me me me — your products. Marketing is about you — your customers’ needs and problems. When you know who those customers are, you know or can more accurately guess their needs.
How to Find Your Ideal Customer(s)
A target market is a group of characteristics, not a person. You can personalize your target market by creating your very own ideal customer, a fictional character with individual, human characteristics — a true fan that you make up on paper or just in your head.
Then, instead of marketing to a group of people, you market to just one person, your true fan.
To create this ideal person, you need to dive deep into this persona’s psyche. There really is no right answer to who this person is, as long as your creation makes sense (for example, “a super modern fashionista who doesn’t knit” does not make sense for my yarn shop). Use this target market worksheet template to help you create your own ideal customer.
Once you’ve created your ideal person to market to, make sure you truly understand your customer’s needs and problems. How do your products fulfill and solve both? Your marketing should successfully connect your ideal customer’s problems with your products.
Engaging With Your Ideal Customer(s)
Write everything specifically to your ideal customer, from product descriptions to blog posts to emails. Use your customer’s perspective and address his/her needs and problems in your own voice.
Let’s work through an example:
Jewelry is a huge category on Etsy. Jewelry lovers have different needs (for example, metal sensitivities) and problems (for example, the perfect earrings for a special date).
How do you connect with your ideal customer who is a true fan of your particular style and construction of earrings, while addressing both her needs and problems?
1. First, make sure your photos are truly stunning, and that your text and keywords are specifically written to your customer from his/her perspective, using your authentic voice. Success Tips: Read these photography pointers and How to Write Enticing Item Descriptions.
3. Write blog or other social media posts that engage (about how you problem-solve, behind-the-scenes glimpses, etc.), with keywords specific to your customer and links to your products. Success Tip: Read these social media tips.
4. Use your mailing list to draw people back to those blog posts as well as to your products directly.
5. Balance links to your products with valuable content.
When your potential customer turns into a real customer, start building actual relationships. Learn about their interests and needs by talking with them via your Facebook business page or at craft shows. You’ll be able to further refine your niche market while turning one-off customers into repeat buyers.
I thought there was a “trick” to finding your target market, then learned that finding my target market is just a process. Defining my ideal customer was key, as well as effectively engaging true via social media. As a result, when I quit my day job last year, I was able to support myself entirely with my handmade business, thanks to finding my target market.
You can find your own target market by creating and engaging with your ideal customer — I’d love to hear your insights and questions in comments.
Brenda Lavell is the owner, dyer, and designer behind Phydeaux Designs. She shares knitting and business tips on her blog, phydeaux-designs.com, and loves to share photos of her yarn and life on Facebook and Instagram.