This question kind of stuck out for me last night watching the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” on TLC. Kelly Clarkson was searching for more information about her identity through her past, which of course got me to thinking about identity and how it relates to business, because I’m just weird that way and my brain doesn’t stop working. EVER. It’s a sickness.
A few of my clients popped into my head, because so much of what I do in web design is help people with their marketing and, more specifically, figure out who THEY are, who their ideal clients are and how they can reach them more effectively. Natural segue from that TV show, right?
So just in case you have been thinking about the same thing and trying to define what your business identity is, and because I have been thinking so much about marketing lately, I thought I’d touch on this today, just for you 🙂
When we’re starting up a new business, a lot of us just dive right in to doing whatever it is we do, and maybe we don’t take the time to back up a bit and start at the beginning. Especially if we’re in an agricultural related business, we’re just out there doin’ it, because it’s what we know how to do. The actual “business” end of things usually means the back end of a horse or a cow, so we stay away from that stuff.
But it’s important to define early on exactly who you are and who your ideal customer is, so that you can effectively market to that person and they will actually hear you.
I am a perfect example of this.
When I started doing websites, most of my “clients” were other friends in the horse business. I had a breeding and training facility and of course I had done my own website, and soon other friends were asking me to help them with theirs. As I got busier and started doing this on a more regular basis, of course I had clients that were in other industries. But I didn’t target any particular niche, so my marketing – what little I was doing – was all over the place. I didn’t know who I wanted to design for. I didn’t care. Did I design for horse trainers or plumbers? What type of people did I connect best with? Who was I able to establish the best relationships with?
Of course I didn’t even know enough to ask myself these questions, so I just kept on doing what I was doing and of course I was never really able to get where I wanted to be in my business. I couldn’t fully support myself on what I was making, but I had no idea why. As the years passed, I would meet up with other entrepreneurs and get asked the question, “Who is your ideal client?”, and my answer would just be “small businesses”.
What I learned is that marketing only works if you’re marketing to the right people, and in order to figure out who THEY are, you first have to figure out who YOU are. For me, this meant going back to my roots and asking myself those same questions again. Clearly the people I got along best with, whom I understood and who understood me, were other horsey and ranchy type folks. We just connected, we spoke the same language, we told the same stories. We clicked.
Once I decided that I wanted to work primarily with other people in the agricultural world, I was able to really define who I was, come up with my logo (which I had not been able to decide on for about 5 or 6 years), and target my marketing to them. The graphic elements that I chose, the wording that I used on my website, were all targeted to people who would understand it and relate to it, and therefore search for it on the internet, and ultimately find me. So if someone were searching for “equestrian web design”, because this is the language I was using on my website, I stood a better chance of being found than if my website just said “small business web design”. The more specific you can be about what you offer, the less chance you have of getting lost behind thousands of other websites who might offer something similar. It’s better to be seen by 50 people searching for exactly what you have, than not by anyone, because you’re buried on page 25 of the search results, which is where you will be, if you don’t define your target niche.
And, now that I had finally figured out that I’m just a cowgirl who happens to design cool websites for a living, and I made it known to the world that this is exactly who I was, things started happening and within less than 2 years I was able to quit my part time job and make a living at freelance web design.
Wanna know one of the really cool side benefits of discovering all this? I get to hang out with ranchers and cowboys and horse trainers and farmers. And this is my job. It really doesn’t seem much like work, truthfully. I can’t believe people actually pay me to play on my computer!
Can YOU say that about your job?
If the answer to this is no, then STOP, take the time to figure out who you are, and then start talking to the people that get who you are, and the rest will fall into place.
If you’ve already figure this out, then you are blessed, just like me, and I wanna hear about it! Please leave me a comment and let me know who you are, and how you figured it all out.