Your business’s audience is the group of people you’re creating products for. With the endless possibilities of products you could make and people you could market and sell to, your audience must be more specific than “women who like jewelry”, “people who need art” or “those who like to support local and handmade”.
A business’s audience is broken down by target market, niche market and ideal customer. Each level gets more specific on who you serve and how your business addresses their needs.
Getting clear on who you can better serve from within that audience not only helps you make better business decisions, it also helps consumers decide if you’re the right fit for them.
You no longer attract just any shopper but rather the right shopper who’s more likely to buy.
*This article is taken from portions of chapter 2 of the ebook How To Sell Handmade Beyond Friends & Family. For more examples, details, and the worksheets for this section of the chapter, you can download the full ebook here: How to Sell Handmade Beyond Friends & Family
To determine your target market, niche market and ideal customer you need to explore your audience’s:
- Physical Attributes
- Personal Preferences
Demographics are the facts about your customers. For example, age, gender, marital status, etc.
Psychographics is an analysis of what makes your customers tick and why they buy. You get a better understanding of their passions and problems that influence purchasing.
Physical attributes are only important if you sell a product people wear, use or consume such as clothing, accessories, soap, food, etc. Characteristics might include skin type, body shape and size, allergies, etc.
What your customer prefers when it comes to looks, sounds, tastes, smells and touches will influence your products and brand.
1 – TARGET MARKET
Your target market is where you begin to narrow who you’re selling to, based on select demographics, psychographics, physical attributes or personal preferences. You’re not listing every trait of your customers, just the qualities they most likely possess if they’re a fit for your products.
The key to a good target market is also including a passion or a problem your customers may search, read about, discuss, etc. that’s related to your product. This provides new opportunities for you to market and sell.
- Target market of a toy business:
- Parental status: kids
- Gender: female
- Age: 25 – 35
- Passion: living toxin-free & eco-friendly
Defining a target market doesn’t mean there aren’t customers who fall outside of it (e.g. a grandparent may purchase toys) but the majority of your customers will fall within.
Keep in mind, a passion or problem should be something your business specifically addresses. It shouldn’t be a passion or problem every product in the same category solves.
For example, a toy business that addresses the problem of boredom, is not specific enough. Every toy is designed to stave off boredom. A more specific problem that a business could address and use to set itself apart might be “boredom during road trips”. Every toy on the market is not appropriate for playing with in a car, and many parents deal with the problem of keeping their kids entertained during long car rides.
Within a target market there are segments, which divide your market into smaller, more specific groups.
Segments branch from one defining trait and break that trait down into sections.
For example, the customers of the toy business could be divided into segments based on how old the kids are. Segments could also be created based on number of kids the parent has, a child’s learning needs, whether the child is male or female, etc. It would depend on the toy business and how it plans to address its customer’s needs and wants.
Benefits of a target market
Your defined target market and segments will determine areas you can branch into as your business grows. Serving more segments within your target market instead of entirely new markets ensures your business grows with its customers and stays on brand.
2 – NICHE MARKET
Your niche market takes one segment of your target market and defines how you address their needs.
Additional demographics, psychographics, physical attributes and personal preferences are outlined and traits become more specific.
>> Target market: broad overview of who you serve.
>> Niche market: a detailed look at who you serve and an overview of what your business does.
Niche market forces you to get clear on the purpose of your business without getting into the details of your products. As a whole, how do your products address the needs and wants of your customers?
As shown in the example below, this business is choosing a niche market based on one segment, which is focused on the age of the parent’s child. Their niche market is “moms of infants who are passionate about eco-friendly products”.
You can serve multiple segments however, as a handmade business, it’s best to start with one and expand to others once you’ve found success with the first segment.
For example, this business may grow into serving parents of infants and toddlers. But when starting out, it’s best to focus on just one segment (e.g. parents of infants).
The more people you try to serve, the more complicated your business becomes and the harder it is to brand, as each segment requires different products, marketing campaigns, and sales techniques.
Strong brands and businesses are built on a clear customer and business identity.
Benefits of a niche market
A niche market helps you begin to define what sets your business apart and why consumers should buy from you. If you don’t know the answer, your shoppers definitely won’t and when’s the last time you supported a business that didn’t have the lowest price but was offering the same product as everyone else?
3 – IDEAL CUSTOMER
An ideal customer is so specific that you define the person you can best serve. You’re going from people who could buy from you (target market) to a segment of people who are more likely to buy from you (niche market), to the person you specifically design products for (ideal customer).
You’re no longer looking at ranges (e.g. age 25 – 40) or speaking in broad terms (e.g. newborn/infant), you’re describing the demographics, psychographics, physical attributes and personal preferences of one person.
Define what’s relevant to your business and helps you paint a clear picture of your ideal customer.
Benefits of an ideal customer
Your ideal customer will help you make decisions on the details of your business and ensure they’re cohesive. It’s easier to keep one person in mind rather than hundreds when planning product features, labels, packaging, where and how to market, how to speak to customers, how to wrap purchases, etc.
How this information helps your business
Collectively, your target market, niche market and ideal customer will lead you to new and better ways to make, market and sell your products.
The products I fall in love with are ones that feel like the perfect fit for me. It seems as though the company has created a product or service based on the times I thought “someone should make…” or “you know what would make this even better…” or “Arghhh, I hate it when this happens, I wish there was a solution.” When you keep one person in mind, you pay attention to the details, which are what take a product from good to great.
People spend more time talking, reading and asking questions about topics related to their demographics, psychographics, physical attributes and personal preferences than they do products. When you explore your customers’ traits, passions and problems, you discover new ways to market and sell your product aside from craft shows, online marketplaces or your own social media pages.
Imagine looking for a business coach to hire and coming across two: one who “helps businesses reach their goals” and one who “helps creatives grow their hobbies into profitable full-time businesses”. Who would you choose? The first coach may be just as helpful but the second coach has clearly defined their niche market and will be the one to win over creative business owners. When you become known as THE business for a segment of the market, you get people talking, gain sales, and are more likely to have repeat customers.
Take the time to define each area of your target audience and then let that information influence every aspect of your craft business.
For the worksheets to walk you through these steps and examples of the different demographics, psychographics, physical attributes, and personal preferences your business should define, please download How to Sell Handmade Beyond Friends & Family.
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!