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  • Writer's pictureRachel Lee

How Do You Narrow Your Target Audience (Without Limiting Your Opportunities)?

Updated: Mar 13

You've probably heard a million times over that you need to have a CLEAR idea of who your audience is in order to make anything happen for your business.

I mean... DUH, right? How else are you going to make money if you don't even know who your customers are? 🤷‍♀️

Honestly, you'd be surprised.

In my first year of business as a full-time creative freelancer, I would've told you that I was happy to work with anyone as long as they had money.

(Geez what great standards I had). 🙄

I'm rolling my eyes at this now since I know that that's the same thing as me saying that I'll date anyone who pays for my dinner, but I'm not joking when I say that this is where we all start.

When opportunities are scarce, it feels like it makes sense to make yourself available to work with whoever's willing to pay you.

But once you start working with a few clients, you'll very quickly realize that you only like working some of them... and only if you're lucky.

Then you find yourself stuck in the same rut that most business owners get into where:

  • You kinda-don't-really like the people you're working with

  • You dread doing the work that you used to get excited about

  • You drag your feet to networking events in the hopes of finding your next client who will hopefully be better than the current ones

  • You're constantly in a state of heightened anxiety because you honestly DON'T really know where your next client is going to be coming from and you don't know where to begin even if you tried

So let's start talking about:

  1. How to define your audience (aka. the people you actually want to be working with)

  2. How to narrow that down (aka. get super specific about exactly what they're like)

  3. How to tailor your brand to catch those fish! (aka. how to use this information to broaden your list of opportunities rather than shorten them)

Sounds good? Let's dive in 👇

Step 1 Define your target audience!

An audience is a specific group of people that you serve with your business. They are your loyal fans, your customers, and your advocates — they're basically your "tribe" of people, and you need to enjoy hanging out with them just as much as they enjoy hanging out with you.

(Read that last line again because if you forget everything else, please remember this one thing)! 🙏

There are a few ways to define your audience, the 2 most common being:

  • Demographics (i.e. age, gender, life stage, etc.) — Mostly for B2C businesses

  • Type of business (i.e. industry, size, revenue, etc.) — Mostly for B2B businesses

For example:

  • A B2C business — A local yoga studio that hosts yoga classes for women in their 30's-40's

  • A B2B business — A sign company who creates signage for local, brick and mortar businesses

While this is a great start, you'll very quickly realize that these audience descriptions are quite generalized. There's a lot of wiggle room here because not all women in their 30's-40's like yoga, and not every brick and mortar business is ready (or able) to invest in nice signage.

This is why it's important for us to do the next step 👇

Step 2 — Narrow down your target audience

Once you have a general idea of who you'd like to work with, it's time to get really specific and hash out all the details of not just who they are, but what they struggle with and what they want.

Think of this exercise like creating a character for a novel. In order for you to really engage with this character, you're going to need to know a LOT more about them than just their name and how old they are. You're going to want to know what their personality is like, what are their dreams and aspirations but also their fears and worries.

In other words, you're going to have a really hard time finding and working with these people if you don't know what's going on in their head!

Here are some questions you can ask to get a clearer picture of who your target audience is and narrow down your broad description:

  • What do they really want?

  • Where are they at in the process of getting that thing?

  • What are the roadblocks that are getting the way?

  • What are the frustrations they're experiencing right now because they're stuck?

  • What happens if they don't get that thing? (i.e. what is the biggest thing they're scared of?)

  • Where do you fit into this picture? (i.e. how can you help them?)

If I applied these questions to the same examples I used above, you'll find that the audience descriptions become much fuller and easier to work with:

  • A B2C business — A local yoga studio hosts yoga classes for young mothers in their 30's-40's who are looking for a space to breathe and do something for themselves between the crazy demands of their schedule. They feel like they don't have enough time to take care of themselves and they're tired of feeling... tired. They want to rejuvenate that spark and feel energized every day, because they can see how their lack of energy is affecting their family — and they want to be able to show up fully for others and for themselves. The problem is... they don't have the time, energy or expertise to figure out a solution to this problem. They just want a space where they can get away for a bit, take a breath, do something for themselves, then come back to everything when they're ready. In this case, yoga is a great solution for this because it's about creating space for self-care and connection with yourself... so that you can show up more fully for the people around you!

  • A B2B business — A sign company creates signage for local, brick and mortar businesses who are looking to upgrade the look of their storefront and start attracting premium customers (rather than the penny-pinchers who mistake their business for a shabby corner store). These brick and mortar businesses have an established presence in the local community, and have recently undergone a rebrand with the hopes of attracting more attention for their business (as well as better customers). They worked with a professional designer to get their online presence revamped, and now they need their store location to reflect those same changes. This isn't their first rodeo and they know what the process looks like when working with a professional sign company, but what they would LOVE is to work with a sign company who (1) provides consultations and educates clients on the best types of signage for their brand, (2) has a quick and easy installation process, and (3) provides follow-up support for maintenance. They've had hiccups in the past when working with their first sign company, and it's important for them that they choose a sign company who gets what they're trying to do, and offers professional expertise on how to do execute their vision — even if it costs them a little more.

I know that these examples were super specific, but you kinda have to be in order to find your dream customer!

Step 3 — Tailor your brand to catch those fish!

Now I know what you're thinking... how on earth is being this specific going to help you broaden your opportunities for catching the right customers? Doesn't being this specific limit the pool that you're fishing in?

This is a very valid concern, but you'd actually be surprised with how well this works! Let me explain.

If you tried to get clients using a very broad description of your audience (such as women between the 30-40 years old), you'll probably end up:

  • Scrambling to talk to every person who kinda fits your broad description

  • Waste a lot of your energy and get discouraged when only 1/20 people are interested in what you have to offer

  • Start working with that one person who said yes, just to find that you don't actually enjoy working with them

In the process, you waste a LOT of energy, base your strategy on hope that you'll bump into the right person, and then get deflated when things don't go smoothly with that engagement.

Instead, you can narrow down your target audience by getting really clear on exactly who they are, what they want, and what they're struggling with so that you can:

  • Be strategic in where to find the people you're looking for

  • Have full confidence that they'll be interested in (and excited about!) what you have to offer

  • Deliver your product / service smoothly, and have a GREAT time doing it!

  • Bonus: These people will be raving about you to their friends, and since great people know great people... you might just land yourself some qualified referrals ⭐️

So how do you prepare your brand to make this magic happen for yourself? Once you narrow down your audience...

  1. Adjust your brand messaging to cater to your target audience — speak to their hopes and needs, and let them know that you (1) understand them, and that (2) you have the perfect solution!

  2. Check to see if your brand visuals create the feeling / vibe that your audience is looking for — are they looking for a calm and soothing experience, or a kick-in-the-butt, "let's get it DONE!" kind of experience? Your colours, fonts, graphics, photos, etc. need to match the mood your clients are looking for!

  3. Strategically position your brand in the places where your target audience is hanging out — this could mean certain spots around the internet, or in physical locations such as venues and be intentional in the way you connect with these people

And that's it!

I used to think of finding the right clients as some huge unsolvable puzzle that I would just have to live with for as long as I did business. I didn't know that it was possible to crack this code with just a few tweaks and adjustments to the way I thought about my audience — and you can too!

While narrowing your audience can feel scary at first, it will actually help you create more opportunities by saving you time, energy and headspace in the long-run. After all, how are you supposed to get what you want if you don't define what it is first?

(Now that's a whole philosophical conversation that I'll have to save for another day) 🤔

Anyhow, take these 3 steps for a spin! I hope this helps reduce a significant amount of headache for you (since it absolutely did for me), and if you need additional support, I would be more than happy to help you!

You can book a quick call with me to learn more about how I can be supporting you with your branding and see if we're the right fit! I'll share a link to that in the button below, and no need to be shy to book a call with me— I don't bite 😉

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