Today we are going to focus on identifying your niche market and target customer.
“Everyone” is not your target customer. Crafting your brand message to a specific audience helps people get a real sense of your product line and of you as the maker. Think about how you would describe your business to someone you met at a party. Saying, “I make handmade jewelry, mostly for weddings” is vague and too generalized. But, a response such as, “I specialize in creating bridal jewelry with a bohemian, earthy vibe” is much more visually descriptive. This second statement gives a better sense of who your ideal customer might be.
You have a “niche” audience - you just need to find them and speak to their needs and wants. Figuring out who your audience is will help you tailor your branding message to your ideal buyer.
Let’s use an example. Say we make handmade soap. You might think, “everyone uses soap, so I don’t have a target customer”. However, people have all kinds of needs and preferences when it comes to the kind of soap they buy. Your goal is to identify a specific personality to whom you want to target your products.
Here are some questions to ask when imagining your ideal customer persona:
Gender: Male or Female?
Personal style: traditional, contemporary, quirky, etc?
Relationship status: Single, Married?
Location: Urban, Country, Suburban, Mountains, etc?
Hobbies/Activities: What does your ideal customer like to do for fun?
These questions will help you identify for whom you are making your products. By honing in on a specific customer base, your products, branding, product descriptions, everything can speak to that customer. Your shop will have a specific look, feel, and identity that people can immediately see and connect with. You may feel by doing this that you are then excluding other people, but in fact, you speak to more people when you have a specific message and focus. When you have a specific focus people know when they land on your shop page what kind of vibe you are presenting. You cannot be all things to all people - when you do not focus your products/shop to a certain audience, you run the risk of your shop just appearing generic and plain. You could also survey your customers to find out what their likes and dislikes are to help jumpstart your thinking on who your ideal customer is.
So, back to answering our questions for the ideal customer:
Let’s say our ideal customer is female, in her 30s-40s, married with kids, lives in the city and likes to stay active and stay connected to nature. She’s well-read, stays updated on current events and has her favorite guilty-pleasure reality shows she likes to watch at night. This is your niche market.
So, for our soap business, we can imagine this woman values the handmade process so she knows what ingredients are going into the product. She may care about this not just for her own products, but also when buying for her kids. She cares about natural ingredients, avoids synthetic fragrances. She cares about these attributes in other aspects of her life (food, health, etc).
Think further about the products you are creating. What is unique about each of them?
Do you offer a vegan line of soaps?
Organic ingredients, dye-free products
Special line of scented soap for men or specialty line for children
Specialty ingredients: essential oils for soothing certain ailments
Specialty process: cold-process soaps
Now that you know who your customer is and what she likes and needs, you can use this to inform how you write your product descriptions and your shop page About section. It’s so much easier to write about your products when you have a specific focus. This customer cares about the ingredients in her soaps, so you want to emphasize this point in your product descriptions. Your About page can also describe how these qualities fit into your shop’s brand identity and values.
Finally, now that you have created your ideal niche customer, hang it up near your workstation so you remember her and what she likes. Use it for inspiration when creating new pieces and it will also help you to remember who you are speaking to in your social media posts. Posting about your handmade process, or better yet, showing your audience through photo posts on Instagram, Facebook, etc, helps attract your potential customer to your shop and gets them browsing through your awesome products. Colorful photos of your jewelry sprawled across your workspace, a video of how you make handmade soap, or just seeing you in action making your next creation - all of these examples connect people to your product, your hard work, and they will become more interested in exploring your shop!
In case you missed it, be sure to check out our first article in the Build Your Brand series on Establishing Your Brand.