Top 10 Target Market Mistakes

by Kristen on June 27, 2014

Every week I talk to dozens of entrepreneurs who want the same 2 things when it comes to their branding:

Clarity about what their message is.
Clarity about how to talk about what they do.

I know first hand the agony of going to an event with family and friends and with no idea how to tell people what it is that you do in your business.

And it’s even worse when you’re at an event full of people you know you can help and it feels like they can’t even “see” you.

The reason this happens over and over again is because we have no idea who our target market is or what actually makes a good target market.

Your target market is the foundation of your brand. A clear market leads to a compelling brand. (Tweet it).

In this post, I want to give you some insight into the most common mistakes we make when it comes to choosing our market, and some simple steps you can take that will help you course-correct in your branding. This way you can finally start to have the clarity that leads to greater visibility and more money.

Top 10 Mistakes Service Providers Make When Choosing a Market for Our Brand

  1. Confuse the market with who you are today.

This comes from the underlying thought, “I’d love a program like this, so I’ll build it.” This is a GREAT way to think about solving problems in the market place. The problem is that as service providers, we need to be a few steps ahead of our market in order to serve them best. If this is your dilemma, create your services for the person you were 5-10 years ago. What services did she need in order to get to where you are today?

  1. Confuse the market with who you want to become.

Building programs and services for the “future you” and hoping someone else will buy them means that you’ve built your work for a target market of ONE. The best way to handle this is to get out of your head and talk to more people with the problem you solve or dream you create with your work. Find out what they want.

  1. Confuse them with who we want our friends to be.

This one is my favorite. I believe that there is value in having clients you like so much you want to hang out with them. The challenge I’ve seen here is that sometimes we build our brand on services our friends don’t need – just because it’s easy and comfortable to hang out with them. I’ve seen MANY health coaches struggle with this one in particular. “It feels good to be around other entrepreneurs, so I’ll just build my brand to service them, right?” WRONG. Especially if you’re hanging out with others just starting, how will they pay you? If you’re stuck here, take a good look: who has the money to invest in your services AND has your services as a priority in their lives right now?

  1. Not speaking in the language of your market.

This is the MOST common mistake of all of them. As a person on the “other side” of what your prospect is going through, it’s easy to speak about the solution and assume they should “get it.” But they don’t. Being in the middle of the problem, they have the language of the problem. And to get them across the bridge to where you are, your branding needs to speak to that – in their words.

  1. Too broad of a target market choice.

“Women-in-transition,” is a target market I hear all the time that creates this problem. (Women are ALWAYS in transition people!) If your message is about helping women have the courage be themselves, consider how you’d talk about that to these two VERY different “women-in-transition”: A woman who just graduated college who is wants to create a career in her chosen field vs. a 40 year old woman who just got divorced with 2 children and is running a business. These women have VERY different concerns when it comes to their respective transitions. If you’re struggling with your message, it’s possible your market is too broad. Time to narrow down.

  1. Only speaking the language of your market’s dreams but not addressing their problems.

If the only thing you talk about in your branding and marketing are the things they hope for and aspire to, you’re missing tugging at the heartstrings that will cause them to take action and invest in themselves by working with you. If this is your dilemma, take some time to talk to your market and get to know where they struggle and blog/vlog about these things. It will help them relate to you.

  1. Only speaking the language of their problems but not addressing their dreams.

If you’re only talking about their problems, you may attract the segment of your market that operates with the lens that the glass is always “half empty.” If you seem to be surrounded by “people who don’t want to do the work” you may need to adjust your messaging to include more of their dreams and the actions they can take to get there.

  1. Only speaking your own language (which might be too clinical, technical, woo-woo, and appeal only to you and people who know you.)

The biggest challenge here is that you may be sharing what you do in a way that only you can understand. If you’re stuck here, the thing to do is interview your market and switch up the bullet points on your website to be words that resonate with them.

  1. Not picking a market at all.

I think you already know what this means and what you need to do. So choose already hon! You can always change your mind if you’ve created traction and realize you’re not in love with the group. But you can’t course correct if you never chose a course to begin with.

10.  Picking a market with no money or viability.

Typically we do this because we’re afraid to be more visible and have guilt about “leaving behind people who can’t afford us.” Here’s the deal. You can’t run a business (an endeavor that exchanges money for services) if the people you want to work with have no money. If it REALLY matters to us to help people who can’t afford us, we have to bite the bullet and serve people who can so we have the money, energy and time to serve those who can’t without going broke doing so. Landlords and mortgage lenders don’t do sliding scale. Which by default means you can’t afford to either. (Unless of course you live completely off the grid. And if that’s the case, do what you please.)

Do you find yourself making any of these common mistakes? It’s completely normal. If you’re stuck when it comes to your Target Market, leave me a comment, I’d love to see how I can help.



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