There’s a lot of buzz lately around defining your ideal client. Blog posts, newsletters, podcasts and workbooks spew the same language — create a niche for your services. Essentially meaning marketing your business toward a particular group of people.
While on the surface this logically makes sense, it’s left me torn on which group of people to market Spruce Rd. toward.
Defining your ideal client can definitely seem overwhelming. How can I restrict myself to only serving one industry? Where should I focus my efforts?
When first launching Spruce Rd. I followed the advice of the “create a niche” posts, and defined my services exclusively toward creative shops + services. I even listed on my services page that my branding services were for photographers, e-commerce shops, writers, etc.
I got it all wrong.
Though I successfully attracted this group of people (proof that defining the niche does work!), I realized I was missing out on a huge potential for my business. It took a consistent nudge from my savvy husband, and a fresh perspective from my assistant Cameron, to open my eyes to redefining my ideal client.
For the past few months my lovely assistant has helped me with SO many tasks, one of which is responding to project inquiries. When an IT firm came through the door on the hunt for a fresh brand identity, I typically would have gracefully passed on the opportunity in favor of staying within my “creative” niche comfort zone. However, Cameron and the potential client had a great exchange through email, and she encouraged me to set up a consultation call to see if it’s a good fit before passing. Lesson learned already: work with people who push you beyond your comfort zone!
Within minutes of my first call with the client, I was beyond excited to work together! His energy was unmatched by any other client, he had a deep respect for our process (and I for his), and I left the conversation renewed and inspired. His father-son business has endured 30 years as a successful brand, and within that first 30 minute call we connected on a business strategy level and I felt as though I picked up a few tips myself for my own business.
The smoothest client yet
What resulted from booking this client was the smoothest experience with a client yet. He respected our step-by-step process, met every deadline with ease, and pushed us to create a brand that truly reflected their business. You might think that an IT brand would be boring to design for, however as a designer I get amped up for truly every industry. I’ve found just as much inspiration in designing for steel manufacturing business as in a wedding venue. The diversity in industries is actually compelling and challenging as a designer.
Though I love collaborating with the “creative” services + shops, and will continue to do so, I’ve learned to not limit our studio based on industry.
So, how do I define a niche not based on industry?
It really comes down to a gut-feeling. Rather than excluding services to one industry, I welcome a certain “type” of person/brand rather than a particular “group.”
The type of person who is trusting of our services. A brand that I believe in. And one where we can truly make an impact for their business.
Take Apple — consistently on the branding pedestal — as an example.
Would you agree that Apple, though they have multiple products (phones, computers, music) in different industries, still appeals to a particular kind of people? Their audience values quality, nice design, and most importantly trusts the Apple brand. If you have one Apple product, chances are you have your heart-eyes set for another one to add to your Christmas list. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t a phone + music enthusiast, you need the latest iphone upgrade.
Just as Apple doesn’t restrict its audience to one industry, ie. computer enthusiasts, I won’t either. I’d much prefer to foster a healthy and trusting client relationship, rather than prioritizing industry.
Though it’s taken me a few years to come to terms with my “niche” I’m more excited than ever to pursue this new direction!