When I started my first business I thought niche marketing was crazy. I couldn’t fathom speaking to just 1 single person when there were billions of people with internet access. I had serious FOMO. I thought if I spoke to everyone all over the world, the money would flow in. Well, I was wrong.
I’m all about helping my fellow shero out. So below is a list of the mistakes I made and how you can avoid them.
I wanted to service everyone. The honest truth is I couldn’t serve everyone and no one expected me too. No one can be all things to all people. Think about it. If someone is trying to be your friend, but you notice she is always trying to sound and be like every person she encountered, would you trust her? Nope! You’re gonna look at her with a side-eye and keep it moving.
When speaking to everyone failed, I tried to pander to the rich crowd. I was crafting a luxury product. My ingredients were unique, exotic, and really expensive. I didn’t want to charge cheap rates, and I also wanted to cater to a particular type of customer who wouldn’t think twice about dropping a tighty sum on a few ounces of the best. The problem was I had no idea how the wealthy operated, thought and made decisions. So it was no surprise that my attempts to sound fancy bombed.
I was resistant to speak to the person right in front of me. Seriously, I have never wanted to be placed in a box only designated to serve black women. Often times society will pigeon hole us into a box where they find acceptable. For instance, I made skincare products. So instead of anyone seeing my skincare products as they were. My products were quickly labeled as black skincare products only. This pissed me off to no end. Don’t get me wrong. I love my people, but I wanted a broader and more global brand. I didn’t want to be labeled and restricted.
When the notion that I should speak specifically to black women veterans came up, I rejected it. I took it as a slap in the face. However, when nothing else works, I was forced to make a change. So I finally listened to my mentors and solely target black women veterans. And guess what? It worked! My following grew and it was more diverse and profitable.
I refused to tell my story. I’m a complicated person. I am an open book in areas of my life that are easy for me to discuss. I am also very secretive in areas of my life, that would leave me vulnerable to judgment. My coach and business bestie, Airial Renal, suggested I open up and allow people to hear my story. Again, I rejected. (Yep, I’m hard-headed.) I wondered why I couldn’t offer my services without pouring my soul into it. I felt like I would be giving a piece of myself away.
So you know what I’m about to say. … That’s right. I was wrong. When I started to open up to my tribe, they listened and didn’t judge me. Those who judged me found someone else to work with. Those who heard my story and felt the same way stayed. Not only did they stay, but they also engaged with me. They shared their stories and allowed me to help them in a way that was both natural for me and them. We created a win-win relationship built on trust. I learned that they chose to work with me, because of me. Yes, my credentials, education, and experience mattered. But there are other women veterans who focus on women veteran entrepreneurship. The key was none of them were me. And that made all of the difference.
I was afraid to be myself. I’m bougie ratchet if you know what I mean. I can speak the king's language and carry myself with natural grace and elegance but will drop the f-bomb without hesitation. Cursing is one of my superpowers. I like cursing and really have no plans on ever giving it up. I know when and where to curse and therein lied the problem. I was putting my best foot forward on public forums, which I should have, but no one knew I was a little hood and a bit ratchet. What that did was alienate my soulmate client. She wasn’t sure if she could open up and really crack a lude joke and let her weave down. When I started to be myself, I felt so much more comfortable in my own skin. My soulmate client felt like she was able to be herself and all was right in the world.
I wasn’t detailed enough. Yes, demographics were important in dialing in my target audience, but it’s not enough. I needed to understand her thoughts and feelings. I needed to know what social groups she belonged and her political thoughts. I needed to know details about her that only deep and consistent stalking would garner. When I started to actually hear what she was talking about, learned her language and understood how her mind worked, I was then able to truly speak to her from an authentic voice.
I didn’t look to myself for inspiration. At first, I was overwhelmed with the thought of joining and engaging in countless FB groups and all the other research needed to learn more about by soulmate client. Then one day it dawned on me. I am a part of my target audience. I am a black women veteran entrepreneur. I have been in the place of my followers and know exactly what she is thinking. When I needed to fill in the blanks, I looked inward for answers. As I continued to learn about my soulmate clients, I would adjust her avatar profile and course correct. At the end of the day, it started with me. When I was in doubt or overwhelmed I would ask myself key questions to deeply get to know my soulmate client until my soulmate client told me otherwise.
By no means is this is a deep dive into learning about your target audience. I wanted to share with you my real-life account of my journey. This was intended to demystify the process and show you that 9 or 10 times, your target audience begins with you.