biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: adjusting to your target market

by Stephanie

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Emily Thompson, the web designer and developer behind an intimate studio specializing in e-commerce websites for small creative businesses, emmarie Web Design. She is also the creator of Indie Shopography, an e-course that shows indie business owners how to get their businesses online. Today Emily is contributing her wealth of knowledge on how to keep up with an ever-changing market. Thanks, Emily, for this incredibly helpful post! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

We all know — or hopefully know — that to begin a successful business we have to know who our target market is. To whom will your brand be most appealing? How are you marketing yourself? Who’s going to buy your stuff? The answer to these questions is your target market.

But what happens when your target market changes?

If you run a business, and have been for a while, you may have noticed that you’re getting better at what you do. You’re honing your skills. Growing is a natural part of running a business. It’s a good thing!

There can be a somewhat adverse reaction to growth, though. What if you outgrow your audience?

The customers who purchased your fancy antiqued brass earrings for $10 when you began selling your wares probably aren’t the same people who will be willing to pay $70 for the super fancy sterling silver ones you sell now.

So, what do you do? Do you downgrade your goods to keep the same old audience, or do you shift your focus to your new audience?

You shift, of course! Unless you want to stunt your own growth, you have to welcome it with open arms. And here’s how you do it:

1. Identify the shift.

What has changed about your business? What has changed about your goals?

The change can be anything from growing expertise or using new production materials to aiming a bit higher or even just better defining your needs.

Personal Experience: I recently found myself in a pickle with my web design business where, as it was, I could not grow any more within my target market. I was working to the maximum of my potential, with no room to grow. I was also attracting some clients who weren’t respecting me as an experienced entrepreneur and designer. I knew that I had to change immediately.

My previous goal was to help any small creative business owner get online. I needed to pare this down to a more refined goal. I redefined and specified my target market as those potential clients who were not only small creative business owners, but also those who had experience as small creative business owners. I wanted clients who were established and therefore understood the hard work that went into making large business decisions such as designing, building and launching a business website.

2. Take a good look at your brand.

Your brand is the first place to start. If you branded yourself well in the beginning and your target market has drastically shifted, then you may need to consider a rebrand. Selling adorable fabric patterns for use in baby quilts requires a different image than marketing a line of high-quality interior fabrics. A brand that served you well in the beginning may need to be revisited as you grow.

Take a look at your new mission statement as a business and see if your visual image reflects your new direction. Do your business name and branding logo reflect this new target market? Will your voice appeal to the people you’re trying to sell to? If you’re making a big change, you may have a lot of branding changes to make.

However, a total rebrand may not be necessary. Something as small as a tweak in color scheme or a switch in font styles could give your visual image the shift you need, though if a total rebrand is necessary, by all means do it! If you’re unsure, talk it over with knowledgeable family and friends or a professional. Make sure you tell them extensively about your new goals for your business.

Personal Experience: After identifying my new target market, I knew that I had to make a few changes to my image. Though the entirety of my brand stayed basically the same (color, fonts, voice), I made some minor adjustments to my website design. I simplified and streamlined the aesthetic, making it cleaner and simpler, while keeping the content exactly the same. This kept the rebranding process to the bare minimum but kicked up my image a notch.

3. Reconsider your prices.

We all know that pricing our goods and services is a hard thing to do. How do we put a dollar amount on ourselves? But to reach the target market you desire, you may have to make some serious adjustments. Want to reach a higher clientele? Raise your prices! This may be just the thing you need to take yourself to the next level.

Personal Experience: I knew that in order to weed out the potential clients I did not want to attract, I would need to raise my prices, something I had not considered in over a year. Not only did I reevaluate my rates as a designer, but I also altered the way I structured my pricing.

4. Reevaluate your venue.

If you want to reach out to wholesalers but are only selling your wares at craft fairs and flea markets, then you’re probably going to have a hard time accessing your target market of wholesalers. Why? Because wholesalers usually don’t frequent craft fairs looking for accounts. They go to large craft shows held almost exclusively for wholesalers. You need to change your venue.

This applies to all kinds of professions. You must take your goods and services where your target market is shopping, and that may mean a change of venue.

Personal Experience: When I realized that my target market had changed, I knew I had to pull my listings off Etsy. For years, I had kept a handful of design listings on Etsy out of loyalty to the platform that had given me a leg up several years ago when I launched my first handmade business. I knew that wasn’t a good enough reason for me to keep the relationship going.

Many of the clients that I received from these Etsy listings were new to the indie business world, and therefore didn’t fit into my new target market. Though I knew that I would be losing lots of potential revenue by closing it, it had to be done. I closed it.

5. Alter your marketing plan.

Once you’ve made all the changes needed to adjust your target market, it’s time to actually market yourself to your target market. You’ve altered your brand, adjusted your pricing and reevaluated your venue; now it’s time to reach out.

Your marketing plan can include anything from adjusting your blog’s editorial calendar to choosing where you want to purchase ads for your site. It may be time to reach for the sky with print ads in magazines or finally send your pitches to bloggers or editors. Whatever the plan for your business, you need to make sure you’re getting your goods or services introduced to your target market. Find them and put yourself out there.

Personal Experience: Once everything was in place for me to go after my target market, I sat down and made a one-year marketing plan for my business. I knew I had to present myself as more of an expert of indie solopreneurialism than I had been. I needed to beef up my blog content by posting more business-related topics, I needed to dive in with my e-course and I needed to make guest posting a priority.


Adjusting your target market can be a big and scary undertaking, as it can mean totally restructuring the business you’ve been building for a while. However, though it may seem overwhelming, it is a critical step in growing your businesses. It’s all about reaching new heights!

Since undertaking my own target-market adjustment, I have seen a significant change in the clientele that I have received, and it has been for the better! I am now getting clients who are willing to work harder and pay more for my services, and who have a serious interest in the development of their business. This, in turn, has made me more satisfied with my own work and has improved my outlook of my business. My own small adjustments have made my target-market goals a reality.

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  • Great post, and I have seen this myself in the >1 year that I’ve had my business up and running. I think in a lot of creative ventures, the really budget prices when you’re first starting out are bound to attract clients who don’t value your product as much (though I did have a few exceptions to this, probably due to the recession) and it’s always wonderful to grow to a point where the people you work with are really excited about what you’re doing — and working with you, as you said.

  • Great post. I am in the process of doing the same thing – altering my focus and target market somewhat. To avoid leaving previous clients in the dust, I continue to offer some lower-priced or even free downloads and services, but am really trying to establish that I can and should work on more complex problems for clients who are a bit further along.

  • Pricing is definitely my biggest problem (but who doesn’t have a problem with that?). For a lot of the more standard things I make, I have set prices. But about 90% of what I make is custom, which makes setting a price on it that much more difficult. I try to think about the time it takes, the quality of materials, and the difficulty of the project.

  • Thank you for sharing! That line about fancy brass earrings is exactly what is happening to me! Hahaha… I’ve been thinking about changing the look of my Etsy store too, and hope to move out of Etsy eventually. This article is certainly very timely :)

  • Great great article and well timed for me! The question I’m struggling with is whether to alter what you create and your style for what is popular in the market.

    My work is not trendy and is a pretty classic style, but bloggers and different media outlets tend to want to talk about the latest trends. Also, I live in Portland, OR and PDX has a pretty specific aesthetic to it, and my aesthetic doesn’t typically jive with that, so getting local support is difficult.

    I tend to want to stick with making what I love, and I think it’s important as a designer to do so. But how do you know if/when to remain absolutely true to your style or when to go with the crowd?

    thank you!

  • @Anni – Thank you! So glad you liked the post. Finding that others appreciate your services/products, even when you’re still uncomfortable with them, is such a wonderful gift!

    @Rena – Oh, lady! You’re worth every penny you could ask!

    @Katie – Pricing is very hard, and is one of those things I will now make a conscious effort to reexamine much more frequently. For custom work, I still have set prices for the breakdown of items I do to complete a project. Makes it much less of a headache.

    @Chiiiiing – I was there once with those fancy brass earrings! :-D Transitioning can be so hard, but so necessary.

    @Acanthus Nichole – I think more than the latest trends, folks like to ponder on what trends will be happening in the future. You may not always hit it on the head, but at least you won’t be following just behind. Make your own path!

  • Plenty of great information here. “Identify The Shift” spoke to me. Tax season brought this to my attention coupled ” Reevaluate Your Venue.” I am currently focusing on both after the numbers jumped out at me. I stay busy creating and marketing my photography. Looking at things in terms of dollars and cents and who my customers are made an impact, that’s where “Alter Your Marketing Plan” will come in. Thanks for the succinct plan.

  • Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I am going to send this article to him. Pretty sure he’ll
    have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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