TT#049 - 5 ways a vague target market will bankrupt you...Feb 07, 2023
“It’s really important for solopreneurs to have a narrowly defined target market”.
Here’s the usual reasoning:
To charge lots of money, your service needs to be really effective.
And in order for your service to be effective, it has to solve a specific set of problems for a specific (target) audience.
And while that’s true, it’s not the whole picture.
A vague target market is so frequently the cause of (potentially awesome) solopreneurs falling into overwhelm and burnout. No matter how hard they work.
Today, I’m sharing 5 of the hidden pains of an undefined target market.
These aren’t usually discussed. But they should be.
And if you needed a sign to get clear on who you’re serving, this is it. 😉
Hidden Pain 1: You’ll Suck At Selling
Selling is all about transformation. Your clients are buying your product or service to change something:
Maybe that's the way they look. Or the way they feel. Perhaps it’s how their systems and processes work. Or they want to make more money.
When you’ve sold to the same type of client again and again, you better understand the exact transformation they want. And the language they use to describe it.
You understand your prospects at a deep level.
So, when it’s finally time to get on a sales call, you can speak directly to their pains, and to their purchasing criteria.
But when you haven’t defined your target market, the opposite is true. There’s no single transformation that your potential clients want.
Which means that getting your messaging really dialed in becomes nearly impossible.
Hidden Pain 2: Strategy Building is Impossible
When I started out, I thought “I’ll do a bit of coaching, a couple of workshops, some courses, some training, maybe some consulting work”.
I wanted to serve as many audiences as possible to both increase my chances of success and mitigate risk.
It’s understandable, but there’s the problem: different audiences require different offers.
And getting those offers to market requires different strategies.
The steps involved in building a remote 1-to-1 coaching business are totally different to building a course-based business.
You can’t get to 5 places at once, and you can’t build a strategy to achieve multiple, disparate goals.
Without a clear audience, it’s impossible to formulate a clear offer. And without a clear offer, it’s impossible to create a strategy that moves you forward.
In other words:
Clarity of Audience = Clarity of Offer = Clarity of Strategy
Hidden Pain 3: Terrible ROI on Marketing (time and money)
When you spend time and money marketing to a defined target market, you usually get a return.
And it makes sense. Your potential clients have really specific pains caused by really specific problems.
By speaking directly (and consistently) to those specific pains, you position yourself as someone to help in that situation.
And when your audience believes you’re able to help in a specific situation, your marketing will produce a financial return.
But when you don’t have a defined audience, here’s what happens instead:
You speak about problems in general. A wide audience feels like you understand them a bit.
You might get decent engagement on LinkedIn posts, but that engagement doesn’t turn into money.
And it’s not a mystery. Your messaging won’t resonate with anybody in particular because you won’t actually be speaking to the pains and problems of any one, specific group.
When that happens, it won’t matter how much time or money you put behind your marketing. Or even how many likes you get.
Because you won’t be giving any single human being the impression you really understand their problems.
Inevitably, your marketing ROI will end up reflecting that.
Hidden Pain 4: Your Service Doesn’t Improve
“Hey Ray, next month can we have an extra XYZ? It was much more useful than ABC last month.”
Your service improves fastest when you get direct feedback from clients.
When you’ve got a clear target market, you accumulate data that helps you provide a constantly improving service (one that you can charge a premium for).
But when you haven’t defined your audience?
It becomes impossible to distinguish between feedback that’s legitimately helpful, and feedback that just asks you to pivot towards serving any one specific niche.
Example: “Ray, your coaching program should focus more on the specifics of marketing yourself as an influencer on TikTok”.
In reality, my Ideal Client isn’t interested in becoming a TikTok influencer.
It wouldn’t be the most effective way to move their business forward. And therefore implementing that piece of feedback would make my service worse, not better.
When you have an undefined audience, you’re serving a group with a diverse set of needs.
And there’s no real way of knowing what feedback would improve your service.
In other words: you lose out on potentially awesome feedback, and waste time pivoting unnecessarily.
Hidden Pain 5: Writing Copy is a Nightmare
How does your ideal client describe their pains and problems? How do they think about an ideal outcome? What words do they use?
Once you have a defined target market, you quickly learn what language your ideal client connects with.
And once you understand what specific language resonates, writing effective copy is reasonably easy. Regardless of whether it’s for your site, an ad, or a sales script.
But without a clear target audience, we end up using general terms that capture many pains, sort of. And you may well get engagement.
But it’s unlikely to turn into sales.
Writing great copy is only difficult when you're trying to appeal to an audience that's too big to serve.
Endlessly tweaking copy, knowing deep down that none of it is going to produce the results you want, is a huge waste of energy.
But with a vague target audience, it’s hard to avoid.
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