I use the term “target market” instead of the many other options out there (niche, ideal client, customer avatar, etc) because it describes the goal of having a target market more clearly. It isn’t “every customer I’ll ever have” or even “the types of customers I want to have”. It’s “the types of customers I’m making decisions for” or the market you’re targeting.
While you may (ok, definitely will) end up with a huge variety of customers, it’s impossible to make business decisions with that as your guidepost.
INSTEAD, YOU WANT TO MAKE BUSINESS DECISIONS WITH ONE TYPE OF PERSON IN MIND SO THAT YOUR BRAND SPEAKS CLEARLY IN THE WORLD.
Think about a clothing store. Like Anthropologie. You could probably describe the Anthropologie customer pretty easily. It’s a woman who is 35 – 55; she is a romantic; she likes to be outside; she likes a nice home and takes care of herself; and she likes to travel.
Now this doesn’t describe me, but I have bought things at Anthropologie. And I know lots of people who don’t fit that description but are also shoppers at Anthropologie.
NOT ONLY IS YOUR TARGET MARKET NOT A PROFILE OF ALL YOUR CUSTOMERS, IT’S USUALLY A PROFILE OF VERY FEW OF YOUR CUSTOMERS.
People are extremely nuanced, so it’s difficult to put together a thorough picture of a person and expect it to apply perfectly to lots and lots of other people. And that’s not the point of having a target market anyway.
Anthropologie doesn’t have a target market so that only those people will buy from them (that would probably be horrible for their bottom line). Anthropologie has a target market so they are attractive to people in general.
NO ONE WANTS TO BUY FROM A STORE WITHOUT A VOICE.
It looks unprofessional and it doesn’t give people a story to attach to the experience of buying from the store. With a clear target market, you can have a clear brand (branding has a torrid love affair with target market), which gives people a story to buy into and a whole set of feelings they attach to buying from you.
When you walk into an Anthropologie store, you start to feel like that woman they’ve based their brand on. You feel romantic. You feel luxurious. You suddenly want to sniff all the perfumes even though you never wear perfume. It’s because they create an experience and a story for you, all by having defined their target market.
Now that we’ve clarified, I have to admit that artists are super-resistant to making firm decisions about their target market.
MOST ARTISTS DON’T LIKE PUTTING THEMSELVES IN A BOX (YOU REBEL!) BUT IT’S ESSENTIAL BECAUSE THAT’S HOW HUMANS ORGANIZE THEIR WORLD.
We have to be able to describe you and your art in a sentence or two to capture a good picture of who you are or we won’t be able to connect to you because we just can’t figure you out. You’re welcome to surprise us from time to time, but overall you want to create your own box and decorate it however you want and make it whatever shape you want and really make it your own – but then sit in that box most of the time.
IT’S THE SAME IDEA AS FINDING YOUR ARTISTIC STYLE OR WORKING IN SERIES – PUTTING YOUR ART INTO A BOX SO THAT PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND IT AND CATEGORIZE IT.
It allows us to figure you out and it also allows us to explain you to others. Just like I could easily describe Anthropologie to you, you want fans of your art to be able to easily describe your art to others.
Another reason an artist may be resistant to this is that they want their art to speak for itself. That’s a completely valid thought. But you still have to have a target market (and a brand, for that matter).
YOU CAN LET THE ART BE THE FOCAL POINT, BUT ONLY IF YOU KNOW HOW TO GET OUT OF ITS WAY SO YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL PAY ATTENTION.
For instance, if you’re targeting millionaires you probably don’t want to price your art at $100 for the average piece. They wouldn’t be attracted to it.
While the art may or may not be the focal point in that situation, depending on how you’ve presented it, it won’t matter if you’re getting in the art’s way by not paying attention to who your customer is and what will fit right into their world so that the art can shine and the customer isn’t distracted by other stuff.
So with that example, we could fix it by pricing the average piece at $5,000 or $10,000. Then when the millionaire looks at your art, the price doesn’t distract them. It stays out of the way and lets the art be the focal point.
NO MATTER WHAT YOUR HESITATION, IT’S CRUCIAL THAT YOU START TO IRON OUT YOUR TARGET MARKET SO YOU CAN MAKE BUSINESS DECISIONS THAT ARE EFFECTIVE FOR SELLING YOUR ART.
This is part of the series Selling Your Art in the Modern Economy. To get the full picture, make sure you read the introduction, part 1 get personal, part 2 Website, part 3 Email, and sign up below so you don’t miss any of the articles!