In our recent brand consultations, we discovered a recurring problem for small business owners:
Businesses weren't landing the customers they wanted.
Why? It turns out that nearly everyone we consulted had convinced themselves there weren't enough of those ideal customers out there.
And more often than not, the fact that they hadn't been getting that business fueled their belief that there just weren't customers out there at the price point they needed. Almost everyone expressed that they felt those dream customers were out of their reach – so they felt pressured to lower their prices and widen their audience in the hope of landing some business.
But when we asked biz owners to identify their competitors or aspirational brands, everyone had an answer right off the bat.
They pointed to other businesses that offered similar services or products and were booking clients. And here's the catch: Oftentimes those successful competitors were at a higher price point.
So what the heck was going on here?
From a marketing perspective, the problem jumped out at us:
These businesses weren't actively targeting those customers.
Just go after them and only them! we wanted to shout. You can do it!
But unfortunately, the fix is not so simple. For small businesses, it's largely a psychological issue: With so many competitors (especially in the form of huge companies and online sellers) small business owners often become convinced that narrowing their audience is unfeasible because they'll simply be undersold by the competition. They feel pressure to cast as wide a net as possible and cut themselves off from making the leap to a smaller niche audience.
What the "wide net and low price point" strategy ultimately results in is an unfocused marketing strategy and a weak brand.
For service-based businesses, this often takes the form of offering lots of different services at once. For product-driven businesses, this approach can be identified by products routinely priced at an unsatisfying, low amount.
But it can be nearly impossible to convince biz owners to make the leap to a narrower audience and a laser-focused marketing strategy!
How do we know?
Well, that was us even half a year ago: We were pulling ourselves in all different directions, from weddings to custom baby prints to branding. Deciding to drop weddings and stationery was a HUGELY intimidating decision, but we did it because we had a groundbreaking realization:
Trying to pursue such a wide range of services weakened our reputation and hurt our bottom line.
What we've loved doing since day 1 is working closely with small business owners to perfect their branding and marketing strategies. But we were by-and-large known for our wedding services and baby products, despite the fact that those were never our main focus or passion.
And that was seriously hurting Hoot's business: Small business owners (our ideal clients) were actually turned off by our reputation as wedding designers. Wedding design seemed flouncy, girly, and far from 'serious' work to biz owners (none of those are true about custom wedding design btw!). And, as a logical result, they didn't want to hire us.
When we put two and two together, we braced ourselves and took a major leap. We nixed the weddings. We nixed the baby products. We threw all of our energy into marketing our business services and haven't turned back.
We focused all of our marketing efforts on targeting our dream clients. And it's paid off.
And now we're immensely passionate about this topic.
It's been hugely beneficial for our business in concrete ways: More customers, more sales, and waaaay fewer headaches. We want to be there for our clients to provide the best branding and marketing strategies possible. We want our clients to succeed!
So we decided to create this post to outline the benefits that targeting those dream clients really has.
In every single case of our brand consultations, businesses' unfocused branding was sending mixed messages and hurting business. But biz owners were afraid to make the leap to targeting their dream clients. And that strategy is holding them back big time.
We're here to reassure you that you not only can make the jump to targeting your dream clients, you need to start now.
And now, here it is. The definitive list:
4 Reasons You Need to Be Targeting Your Dream Clients ONLY:
1. Your dream client IS out there
Here's the thing: If you know who you want to work with, you can build a strategy that targets them directly.
By identifying your dream client, studying them, and getting a handle on their desires and motivations, you can target them – and make that target.
Who is the customer you wish you could work with every single day? What do they do? What are they like?
If those questions are too big for you at this point, think of it this way:
- Who is your main competitor? (Who are people going to instead of you?)
- Or, who is your aspirational brand? (What brand does your business most look up to?)
Answer those questions and then think:
- Who are that brand's customers? What do they want, and what do they expect?
Now take a moment to realize: Those dream customers do exist, and they are in the market for services or products similar to those you provide!
Now use your answers to help pinpoint exactly who your dream customer is, and build your brand strategy around that person exactly. What do they like? YOU should be what they like! Pursue them and convince them that your product is what they need.
2. Your dream client wants to work with you
If you can identify your dream client and build your brand around their desires, you become your dream client's dream business. Consumers want to work with a business that speaks to them directly. They make purchases because they have wants or needs that must be fulfilled!
Where the importance of branding and marketing strategies lies is the fact that the cues you send to your audience inform their decisions.
And a strong brand tailored to your dream client tells them Yes! This is exactly the product for you!
But an unfocused brand, on the other hand, fails to send a clear message about who the product is for and not for. That structure doesn't attract dream clients. It might not attract any clients!
To be clear, this is not a "build it and they will come" situation. This is a "find out exactly what they want, structure your business and brand around that desire, and they will be drawn to your attention and commitment and WANT to work with you."
So narrow your niche, focus your message on that group specifically, and start attracting them!
3. Dream clients make biz enjoyable again
You got into business because you felt passionate and excited about what you were doing. But running your own biz gets very frustrating very quickly when you keep netting clients who give you headaches.
When you actively target your dream client, business becomes enjoyable again!
You should feel like you want to hug your customers, not dread working with them.
Saying sayonara to the work that you dread makes business more fulfilling – and the key to being able to land those clients is zeroing in on them through your branding and marketing strategies!
4. Targeting Dream clients increases revenue
Please, please, please, please: I cannot stress this point enough!
Targeting a narrower niche really can increase revenue. I know this still might sound counterintuitive to you, but when you clearly market your product TO a specific audience, you show that your product is professional and you've got your *ish together.
You'll not only be able to commit more fully to the things you love working on, you'll be able to charge more for those niche services. Focusing in on the people you want to work with and sending clear marketing messages to them allows you to land that business!
Narrowing your niche and actively pursuing just those dream clients is a win for you and your business. Orienting your strategy toward ONLY dream clients attracts those customers by showing that you've got the right product for them, makes doing business fun again, and increases your revenue. So take the leap!
We're working hard to show you what five years in business looks like. Comment here or on Facebook with topics or questions you'd like to see us cover. Or maybe just links to your favorite GIFS. You can also tweet us your feedback@hootdesignco or @averyenderle, follow us on Insta, come check out our Pinterest boards, and keep up with us on BlogLovin'!