One reader was particularly interested in this idea:
The short answer? Yes.
Every time you change target markets, you have to start over.
- New marketing materials to appeal to this new audience
- Brand-new network of potential clients and business partners
- More research on their industry and needs
Sometimes you have to change target markets. This is really rare. Sometimes it makes sense to adjust your vision, but not change it entirely - this is usually narrowing in on a smaller slice of your niche.
Many people fall into the trap of changing their entire purpose for the excitement of it.
Some people find themselves changing their target market multiple times per year.
If you're one of those people, you're truly robbing yourself of the best aspects of business ownership. Instead of feeling the benefits of being your own boss, doing work you love for clients who appreciate you, and building your personal empire -- you're just getting the infatuation (and hair-on-fire stress) of change.
Changing target markets frequently is like signing up for a marathon, but jogging over to every interesting 5K race you see... and then feeling discouraged because you ran 3.6 miles and you're no closer to the marathon finish line. You might run a lot of interesting 5Ks that way, but you're never going to cross the marathon finish line unless you stay the course.
- Scared that they'll get bored with their current market
- Think it's easier to switch target markets than to work on their own flaws
- Don't get the immediate enthusiastic response they were hoping for
- Not passionate about their audience and are trying to find the spark by switching
- Feel their natural/instinctual choices are "too easy"
- Afraid they'll get pigeon-holed into a market and won't be able to evolve over time
- Not sure there are enough people in the target audience to sustain a business
- Approaching business like casual dating, instead of like marriage
- Have more fun picking out visual branding and researching than actually working on their business
I told a story last time about the guy who changes target markets radically, from fitness to real estate to agriculture to who knows what's next.
Today, I'll tell you a story of a more subtle (but still detrimental) series of shifts.
A gal came to me to find out why she couldn't get her business off the ground. She wanted to be in the personal development field, helping people heal emotionally and find their purpose. She was caring and interesting, but couldn't seem to attract the right clients - clients who appreciated her, were willing to pay her price (and on time), and who were fulfilling to work with. So she switched target markets every 3-6 months.
She knew she connected best with middle-aged women, but was always tweaking the rest of the profile (and re-doing all of her marketing materials every time). First, single women. Then, white collar professional women. Next, women who love yoga. Then, childless and empty-nester women. Every time, she struggled to attract any volume of clients and definitely didn't feel fulfilled by working with them.
You know who she really connected with, though? Women recovering from abuse.
But she didn't want to target that audience! She felt it was "too easy" because it was what she knew best. She was concerned that it was unethical to have an emotionally vulnerable target market. She was afraid of being pigeon-holed as "The Abuse Woman." When she talked to her friends about her idea, they got uncomfortable and didn't give her the response she expected.
Here's what I told her:
- The "too easy" market is exactly the right market. You should never voluntarily choose a difficult target market. If it's "too easy," that means you understand them.
- If you're aware of the ethical concerns of serving that audience, you might be the right person to serve it. Would you rather than need in the marketplace be filled with someone who doesn't have the same attention and care, while you're off pursuing a more difficult market you don't even like?
- What looks like a pigeon-hole to some people looks like an amazingly carved niche to others. If you love that audience and you love your work, you're not stuck - you're planted.
- Don't give credence to people's opinions if they're outside your target market. Your friends, your mom, your spouse... If they aren't your target audience, it doesn't matter if they personally find value in your idea.
Picking the right target market - and sticking to it - is the key to building and growing your strong business.
Thanks for reading! Do you have more questions about target markets? Send me a message on Facebook.