So you've decided that you're ready to take your offline business and bring it online. You could be looking to use the web to attract new clients to your business, or maybe use the web to develop brand new revenue streams.
Either way, to succeed with this means more than just slapping up a WordPress website for your business and hoping for the best. You need to develop a strategy for the online component of your business, and hope isn't a strategy.
The first step in developing your online business strategy is determining who your target audience is, then more specifically, who your ideal individual customer (lead, prospect, client, etc.) is. This first step is a critical one, and unfortunately many small business website owners go off the rails right here at the beginning.
Contrary to what many business owners think, no matter the product or service you offer, your target market is not "everyone". Trying to target everyone is like standing on the sidelines and yelling at a football stadium full of people.
Nobody will pay attention to you.
No matter the product or service you offer, your target market is not 'everyone'. Click To Tweet
You need to determine exactly who your audience is, as specifically and narrowly as possible.
Now I know what you're thinking. "If I define my audience too narrowly, I'm going to miss out on potential customers."
C'mon, admit it, you were thinking that. Everyone does at first.
But the truth is, the narrower you define your niche, the more money you can make, for a few simple reasons:
- If you have a tightly defined audience, you will be able to reach them more easily, more efficiently, and will waste less time and marketing dollars.
- Specialists get paid more than generalists, period. Brain surgeons make more money than general practitioners. Finish carpenters make more money than general laborers.
If you really want to hit it out of the park with your online business, you need to become the specialist, the go-to authority, in your tightly defined niche.
Become the Go-To Authority in One Niche
Let's say Joe Lumbar has a chiropractic office and wants to hire someone to help with online marketing, in an effort to attract new patients to his practice. Who is going to command more attention from Joe, along with a higher fee:
Bob Jones, who offers "Marketing Services for Businesses"
Sally Smith, who is "The Online Lead Generation Expert for Private Chiropractic Practices".
Sally Smith wins every day.
And you know what? As a specialist, Sally can charge a high enough rate that she doesn't need a huge volume of clients to be successful. And believe me, there are enough chiropractors out there that she doesn't need to worry about missing out on potential clients in other niches.
By working exclusively with private chiropractic practices, Sally can hone her message down and offer solutions specific to her target (Joe Lumbar) and not worry about diluting that message so that other groups understand it.
By doing that, a chiropractor gains an instant comfort level that Sally understands his business and the unique challenges that come with it. He doesn't need to waste time finding out if Sally understands his problem or has experience working with practices like his.
Sally is the exact authority that he needs.
If You Offer a B2B Service
If you offer a B2B service, going through the following progression will help you to focus like a laser on your ideal target.
- Start by choosing a specific industry or business you prefer to work in. Let's say it's the medical field. That's a good start, but it's much too broad.
- What medical specialty is in your wheelhouse? Pediatrics? Great. Still too broad though.
- What size practice do you enjoy engaging with the most? A large hospital? Small private practice? Either is fine, but still too broad.
- What specific department or area do you interface with in that pediatric practice? Doctors? Nurses? Administration? Billing? Now you're getting closer.
- The Decision Maker in the specific department within the specific size biz within the specific industry (much better).
Always remember this: "Industries" and "businesses" don't read websites. Decision Makers do. And if you know exactly who your ideal customer is, you can speak directly to that Decision Maker.
If Your Service is in the B2C Space
What if you have a B2C product or service? It still isn't for everyone and you still need to hone in on that one person who is your ideal target, the person who will truly benefit from what you offer, the person who needs it today.
Let me give you a real-life example.
I once owned a company that put on adventure/obstacle course type 5k races. Hills, mud, obstacles, beer, fun. You get the idea.
We had all types of people who registered for these events, but when we looked at the data, we were able to really narrow down who our runners were.
- 67% were women
- 70% were college educated
- over 70% exercised regularly
Now that's a start, but we drilled down even further, and created an avatar of our ideal customer.
Turns out that she was a 38 year old woman, with two kids, a college education, who worked, was married, exercised regularly, and had a household income of between $75k and $100k.
And, she would run our races with at least three of her friends.
I could picture exactly who she was in my mind, and that's the type of specificity you should have when determining your ideal customer.
When I created sales copy for our website, when I created blog posts, when I sent out our newsletter to our email list, I wrote as if I was speaking to one person. I was having a conversation with a 38 year old, middle class, exercising, college educated mom.
It's a Conversation with Your Target Audience
I wrote like we were sitting having conversation over coffee. I spoke her language, hit her hot buttons, addressed issues that were high on her radar.
I had a much better chance of being heard by speaking directly to her than I would have by yelling at a football stadium full of people who might like to run and drink beer.
That doesn't mean I excluded others. Not at all. But I didn't water down my message to try and cover every base, because then not only would the 38 year old mom not have paid attention, neither would anyone else.
So narrow you niche. Focus like a laser on your ideal customer. And stop trying to speak to everyone.