Most Clients Are Dead
“My target audience is everybody.”
Have you ever heard someone say that?
This week I met an entrepreneur in the the wellness niche who was angry that she couldn’t find a designer that “got” her.
“I ask them for a logo, and they make something purple. Don’t they get that wellness isn’t just for women?! It’s for everybody!”
It reminded me of a great opening to a Louis CK show, where he says:
“Hello Everybody! Actually, why should I say everybody? You’re not everybody. Actually, most people are not here. Most people are in China, actually. Actually, most people are dead, did you know that?”
What that entrepreneur tried to express is that her audience consists of both women and men — but that still doesn’t mean it’s “everybody”. A few minutes into our talk, we realized “everybody” is 20-60 years old, living in Manhattan, with high socioeconomic status, and into yoga and other wellness activities.
I guess there are no more than 150,000 of them — but for sure not everyone, and not even close.
But it’s for everyone!
Entrepreneurs love to imagine that their product is a good fit for everyone, just like Google and Facebook are for everyone. They tend to forget that no product or company starts with the mainstream.
Every product, including Facebook, starts as a niche product with a few first users (often called “the early adopters”). If the product isn’t a great fit for those first users, if it isn’t cool and valuable enough for them, they will never use it and the product won’t get to the mainstream ever.
When entrepreneurs try to get everyone, they dilute their brand — and reduce the chance to actually excite someone.
Cue your work
Our work as creatives is to help entrepreneurs focus and define their target market. Whether it’s a restaurant or an app, both have a target audience, and it’s not everyone.
The better job we are at defining target markets, the better we can design. We can learn who their audience is and how they talk, behave, and live — what is the visual and virtual world they live in, what moves and influences them. With that, we can improve our client’s chance to succeed.
Now let’s talk about you. Yes, you.
You have to decide and understand who YOUR target market is. Too many creatives I meet think that their potential audience is everyone. If you can pay, you’re in.
That’s a huge mistake.
As your target audience grows, you dilute your own brand — and, as we learned above, you decrease your chances of actually exciting anyone enough to work with you.
The more specific you are about who your client is, the easier it is to market yourself.
I, for example, love working with technologies companies. And, to be even more specific, my target market is startups. Once I was able to define that, life got easier.
Clients that are outside of the startup world aren’t a potential client for me. I can learn where startup people hang out, speak their language, read the blogs they read, go to events they go to – and build my network this way. They see me as an expert in this niche, and refer me to each other.
Many people, both clients and freelance creatives, are afraid to make this choice about choosing their target audience. It’s scary to limit yourself!
It makes you say: That’s who I am and these are the people I want to work with.
That’s not an easy thing to say. What if you’re wrong? What if tomorrow there’s a client that I miss because they’re not in this audience?
Like all good things in life, you can’t dance at two weddings. Want to be great? Be great for someone specific — and decide who you’re not good for at all.
Ran is head of product, designer and co-founder at the nuSchool. He's also a freelance designer working with Startups, the a mentor at The Designer's Pricing Class. He's now working on a new class Marketing For Honest Freelancers.
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