Answering YOUR Questions

Ideal Client vs. Target Market

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Whenever I’m teaching a class or doing a one-on-one consultation, I use the term “target market”, and I inevitably get the question, “What does that actually mean? Is that the same thing as an ‘ideal client’”?

The short answer: kinda

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The long answer:

I don’t know how “ideal client” became the go to identification for creative small businesses to identify their clientele, but for some reason it is the most common term that I’ve heard. That doesn’t really seem to transcend into other industries. The benefit to talking about target market instead of an “ideal client” or individual client personas is that it’s more comprehensive. You’re identifying an entire group of people who all share a unique set of characteristics, who ALL want to hire you. If you can identify those characteristics, it’s beneficial for both you and, your customer because you both end up getting the value that each of you want, faster. You get quicker revenue with less time and money spent marketing, and your client gets your super sweet product/service.

And this doesn’t mean a list of demographics. Last week I met with a client who thought they nailed their unique target market. “female, 25-32yo, engaged, dual income of 50-75k”. Great! How is that different than the person next to you? You should take a deep dive into your target market. What do they like to do? What’s important to them? Where do they shop? Give yourself more to work with than easy demographics. That doesn’t give you much depth to really get to know your customers.

And once you’ve identified the group, you can start to take something that is normally qualitative and make it quantitative. You can use analytics, consumer and social trends, and language to direct your marketing. This gives you a higher rate of return on your investment, and save you YEARs of time in trial and error.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself
— Peter F. Drucker; American management consultant, educator, and author

And while this idea of identifying your target market seems relatively straightforward, it’s not always as simple as it seems. It takes a lot of observation and keeping your finger on the pulse of current social marketing trends. It seems like the Instagram algorithm changes weekly. Knowing your target market will help you to leverage various platforms and assess how your customers are using each platform. If your customers are no longer using Facebook in the same way, they’re giving you permission to stop wasting your time there.


Homeroom is partnering with Maven and Muse Media in Portland, this month (Oct. 24th) for a WORKshop about identifying your unique target market and then implementing that information into social media. If you identify with this post and want to dig deeper, JOIN US!