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5 Steps to Finding Your Niche & Ideal Customer

When I first set up my business, I naturally assumed I would offer every service under the graphic designer sun to every Tom, Dick and Harriet who would have me. Then only after many years of wandering in the design wilderness, would I finally be able to decide who I wanted to offer my services to and how. But thanks to many honest conversations and wise words from experts, I realised I was looking at it the wrong way.

So what is a niche anyway and what’s the difference between that and your ideal customer? 

Well your niche is a segment of the market you might choose to serve and your ideal customer (or client) will sit within that. Understanding your niche and ideal customer, isn't really about time served; in fact it's the opposite.

It can get your business to where you want it to be quicker - the beauty of running your own business is that you get to decide who you want to serve and when.

Finding your niche and ideal customer means that you're much more likely to strike an emotional connection with the right people as your offers are shaped around the people you understand best. I believe it really can make you to stand out from the sea of competitors offering similar services!

Here are the 5 steps that have helped me as a small business owner establishing a niche and for the first 3, I've given you my real life examples of how I've applied this to my own business.

1/ Understand Your Own Passions

What are your skills and strengths, what type of work do you enjoy, what would you love to try? The more you are passionate and confident about your work, the more you will strike that connection with your target audience. Who do you most want to work with and make a difference to?

My real life example: I find so much joy in creating unique, beautifully crafted design and I love working with other small businesses and entrepreneurs, so brand design is a natural environment for me to thrive!

2/ Define Your Brand Values

They say your brand is what others say about you when you're not in the room. So what does your brand stand for? List 3 or 4 key things that define what you want others to know and feel about your product(s) or service(s)? Try to keep each value to one or two words. Examples might be: Joy, Fashion Forward, Belonging, or Freedom

My real life example: My brand values are

  • Artisanal (the craftmanship in my work will showcase the value and craft of your brand)

  • Ethical (sustainability is important to me and my clients can be reassured that I am trustworthy)

  • Authentic (I'm a thoughtful, relatable person and can make your brand feel relatable to your target audience)

3/ Create an Ideal Customer Avatar

Consider the types of businesses you want to reach; what are their common traits. Do as much research as you can to understand their problems and how you can offer unique solutions for them. As well as looking at your direct competitors, you can find inspiration in other types of businesses that they relate to - put yourself in their shoes, or even ask them questions directly by speaking to them, whether it's through social media communities, networking events or through your other marketing activities such as email. Then I find it helps to create a specific persona or avatar that you can have in mind when you're marketing to them, but you might have a few of these to bear in mind (unless you want your niche to be super specific)!

My real life example: an example client avatar for me would be a female entrepreneur who runs a small business promoting an organic / sustainable health & well-being lifestyle.

4/ Experiment, Test, Reflect

Using all you've learned from steps 1-3, now is your time to test your hypothesis! Create a sales and marketing plan directly aimed at your niche - at this stage a 3/4 month plan works well giving you enough time to form a strategic approach whilst allowing you to flex it once you come to the end of that period. Make your comms laser-focussed to appeal to the niche you would like to work with and make sure you proactively engage with them.

5/ Refine

Do you need to tweak your original definition of your niche? Or maybe it's still relevant, but you need to change your marketing approach to create an offer that works better for them? Whatever you decide, ensure your product or service is aligned to your niche and your communications are consistent and written with them in mind. Some things to consider: do various social media bio's need updating with keywords to catch their attention? Are your social posts, emails and blogs specific to their viewpoint and needs? Is your website optimised for search engine optimisation so they can find you when they are actively searching?

Remember, having a niche doesn't mean you have to operate exclusively with those people; it's your business and you have the power to say yes or no to who you work with! However, I believe it's the best way to make maximum impact, get noticed and to make a real difference for your chosen market.

If you're still struggling to define your niche and/or ideal customer or need ideas to create brand design that sings to your target audience read my blog 6 Steps to Creating a Compelling Brand Identity.

All my brand design packages include a 360 brand review and allow for a collaborative process, asking all the right questions you need to answer to ensure we create your dream branding together. Get in touch to find out more!

Karen x

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