Archive for June, 2008

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DO YOU HAVE A TARGET MARKET?

June 14, 2008

Are you trying to speak to the entire world, or have you narrowed the pool of people you are marketing to, down to a manageable size? That is the importance of finding a target or niche market. Think about the industries that you have worked with in your “corporate life”. What kind of work did you like best? What type of people did you prefer to work with?

Narrowing your message doesn’t give you less people to work with, as so many people think. Instead of being a small fish in a big pool (where the bigger fish eat you up!) you get to be the big fish in the little pool. And because you are targeting a smaller pool you are able to narrow your message down to their specific needs and desires. When they see that you are JUST FOR THEM they will come to you.

In practical terms it means finding where your clients are and going out of your way to speak to them. Finding the forums they participate in, the online and in person places they are likely to frequent. Talk to them. Have fun and make friends. Initially the point is NOT to sell your business but to let them get to know and like YOU. People do business with others that they know and like.

I was just as flummoxed over trying to find a niche market as any business owner. I didn’t know where to begin. So I sat down and really thought about what I liked to do.  And then I considered the things I love – things I am passionate about. I considered my personal goals for the next 2-3 years and how I want to have horses again. After chewing on that for awhile I settled for the Equine industry. I figured I could work for Breeders, Trainers, Farriers, Large Animal Vets and Clinicians, etc.

I redesigned my website to speak specifically to that group. And I suddenly knew where I had to focus my attention. I’m a now a member of several select Equine groups. As I have had discussions with this crowd, I’ve pretty much narrowed my niche even further to breeders and trainers. There are so many out there, even with my market that narrow, I couldn’t begin to contact them all. In fact, I could narrow my market to breeders of one type of horse and I would still have a huge market!  By making friends that know horses and know that I know horses I am able to present my business to them in their own language from a source they know and trust.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, narrowing your market doesn’t mean you can’t do business outside of that target. You can work with anyone! It’s just a matter of where you put your focus.  So find your ideal client, pursue your passion and watch your business grow.

To find people in your niche just Google them!  As an example I’ve Googled Business Forums, but get specific!  Target YOUR ideal clients!

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RUG PULLED OUT FROM UNDER ME

June 5, 2008

Ever have the rug pulled out from under you and while sitting on your butt nursing your wounds wonder how you could be so unprepared for the fall and, of course, that sudden jarring stop?  That is how I am feeling this week. 

I was a member of an organization that I loved, supported and openly promoted.  The founder of the organization was concerned that members were not appreciating the time and energy that went into creating the platform.  Both privately and publicly I encouraged her to make it a paid service.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect her to make the fees impossible for the majority of those in the membership, including myself, to afford.  She offered a scholarship for a select few.  I applied and I (perhaps arrogantly) thought I was a shoe-in.  She knew my client base was not up where it needed to be yet and unlike many others; I did not have a second job or a spouse’s income to fall back on.

The June 1 deadline came and went without a peep from her regarding my request.  I know it is her policy to inform if you have been included and not say anything if you have not.  I tried to log on, but was thwarted with the page that requested I cough up my dues.  So since I had not heard anything and no longer had access, I removed all information stating I was a member of the organization.  I later found out that she granted scholarships to anyone who applied and a couple members wrote and asked where I was.  I wrote the founder to ask if she had received my original request.  A couple of days have come and gone with no reply.

I felt and still feel so heavy hearted.  For the last year this wonderful group of mostly women has been the backbone and support of my fledgling business.  Many of the individuals have become friends and I still have contact with and enjoy continued conversations and support.  But it’s just not the same.  And I’m having a difficult time putting into words exactly WHAT the loss is. 

Why is a forum, a social network such an important part of my life?  I would usually check in twice a day to see what was going on and create a post, comment on another or share something humorous.  I guess it is that sense of community with like-minded individuals with a common goal – in this case, all Virtual Assistants.

It seems that a lot of people, like vultures, are swooping down courting members of this organization for their own personal gain.  That feels icky.  But I must admit, I would welcome a free place to meet with like minded VAs.