This is something that many freelancers overlook early on, resulting in extremely generic pitches.
Consider your target market to be your ideal client. It's the type of person for whom you built your company — the ones who will pay for your services.
Unfortunately, too many freelancers offer services without first considering who will buy them, and it's not as simple as looking at who is buying from other freelancers because you have your own set of skills and expertise.
You also can't market to "everyone." According to Brent Jones:
When your branding speaks to everyone, it speaks to no one.
Knowing who your target market is will help you:
- Determine how and where to promote your services
- Refine your message to attract the right type of client
- Maximize sales and command higher rates
Going through this process essentially saves you time and money on marketing because you'll have a better understanding of how to connect with those who will buy from you. You can also charge more for your knowledge of a particular industry.
For example, I know a guy who designs landing pages for local gyms. He’s not a general design guy. He's more than just a local design expert. Instead, he went way more specific, and when his potential clients learn about that specific offer, they are more likely to choose him over a generalist designer who "designs landing pages".
While you may not immediately choose your exact niche and offer, you should consider becoming more specific and appealing to a smaller audience. One of my early mistakes as a designer was simply advertising myself as a designer. This broad "appeal to everyone" philosophy only hampered me.
Later, I constrained myself to mobile app design only, which was preferable because my clients were much more satisfied with my specific expertise. Finally, I narrowed my focus even further and designated myself as a "mobile app designer for digital health products," which digital health companies, predictably, appreciated.
Once you've identified a market, it's time to conduct extensive research. Participate in forums, join Facebook groups, snoop on freelancers/agencies in your niche, and make phone calls to business owners solely to gather information rather than to sell anything.
You want to figure out what is causing your target client pain. Is it sacrificing profits? Is it a lack of technological knowledge on their part? Is there anything you can do to make them more profitable or less insecure/frustrated?
These are the questions you should ask yourself and respond to. Once you've done so, you'll be able to craft a killer pitch that converts well. Cold emails, LinkedIn connection requests, Upwork applications, social media profile bios, sales calls, and other activities may be included.
The main point here is to not think about yourself or what you have to offer. Instead, consider what your client desires, what bothers them, and what they would pay someone very good money to have taken off their plate. When you have that answer, you can sell and deliver the best solution possible.
Here's how you can define your market
Start with the following tips to help draw a clear picture of your target market.
Define the problems you solve
As a freelancer, you don’t just offer a service; you solve a problem.
People don’t just hire freelance designers because they want a pretty website. They hire them to optimize their design for user-friendliness and higher conversion rates.
It’s not just about the service. It’s about the benefit.
Once you’ve defined your benefits, you can better understand who would hire you to solve their problems.
For example, I don’t just design apps for businesses. I help businesses grow their revenue by making people engage with apps, converting visitors into paid users, and keeping retention rates high.
Start by listing out the types of problems you solve, and then beside each one, list who struggles with that problem.
- Big businesses?
- Small businesses?
- Individuals on a budget?
- In what industry?
- In what country?
Don’t be afraid to dig deep.
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