For the last six years I’ve been a content writer focused on connecting small and medium sized businesses to their target market. After a career of numbers-related jobs, I decided it was time to follow my dream of being a professional writer. It was 2010 and there were few jobs. Many of us were searching for ways to reinvent ourselves and create a personal brand.
The Personal Brand of You (or your small business)
You are your brand. How many times have you heard that phrase? If you’re a solopreneur, you live and breathe your brand. Without it, your business isn’t anything more than a hobby with your face attached to it. There’s nothing wrong with hobbies but if you’re building a business, you’ve got to define who you want to reach with your products or services so you can build a strategy to attract them.
Defining Your Target Market
Defining your target market isn’t about eliminating prospects, as many of us fear. It’s about focusing where you’re spending time.
When I started blogging back in 2009, I was writing about my personal life. I wasn’t even on social media until 2010 so I was sharing links via email. It was cute but when I started my freelance writing business in 2010, that blog just wasn’t the right look and feel so I had a new website designed.
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It included a red, black and white design with lots of blog categories and topics. (If you’re curious, here’s a glimpse of it before the redesign.) Eventually it became a beast of personal and business ideas that left visitors asking, “What services do you offer to your clients?” After a few times of explaining, I knew it was time for a redesign to my current McAuley Freelance Writing website to reflect my updated target market and services.
The personal posts were added to McAuley Musings and I focused on defining the target market and voice for my freelance writing business. When you’re defining your target market, ask yourself or your team:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What challenge do they have?
- How do you solve their problem?
If you’re a skincare specialist, it’s not okay to name your target as people with skin. You’ve got to narrow it down to something like women between the ages of 40 and 55 who are seeking ways to prevent or manage the aging process.
The act of defining your target market helps focus where you spend your time.
Branding is More than a Website
If you are your brand then everything you do is a reflection of your business. From what you wear and how you act at networking events to your social media and blog content. Remember, YOU are your brand so think about what you want to reflect. Not only that but you want to be spending time where your target market is spending time.
Are you spending time where your target market is spending time? If no, then you’re wasting time on social media. The key to social success is defining your target market and then marketing where they are.
You can’t be everywhere.
The Stacey Harris recommends spending most of your time, money and resources on two primary social media profiles and one or two secondary profiles. I agree. You don’t need to be on every platform to accurately reflect your brand and connect to a target market.
- Facebook is for men and women ages 30-ish and older. They’re connecting with each other in groups and sharing recommendations.
- Twitter is excellent for sharing content, researching (I use it like Google) and networking. Going to an event? Use the event hashtag to connect with other attendees.
- LinkedIn is for professionals to connect with each other. If your target market is small to medium size businesses, this is the place for you.
- Google+ is good for SEO.
- Instagram is for the 30 and younger crowd.
- Pinterest is for women of all ages who have disposable income. If you’re selling a product to women, your time here is well invested.
Are your social media profiles complete?
LinkedIn guides you through profile completion so there’s no excuse for not having a profile at 100% but for other social sites I recommend auditing your profiles for:
- Complete name and business name
- Link to company website (and make sure the website has links to social media profiles)
- Tag your business Facebook page in employer section of Facebook personal profile.
- Bios – even the short ones – are opportunities to use keywords and/or hashtags, especially on Twitter.
If you’ve got incomplete profiles, you may, however unintentionally, be reflecting to prospective clients that the work you do is also incomplete. This could be detrimental to your business.
[bctt tweet=”If you don’t know who you’re trying to attract, then how do you know what to say?” username=””]
What are you saying and sharing on social media?
If you don’t know who you’re trying to attract, then how do you know what to say?
You’ve got to have a strategic plan for social media or it can become like my old website – a hodge podge of topics and no one will understand the problem you solve for your clients. When you’re deciding what to say on social media, think about your target market. Ask yourself if what you’re saying is aligned with your brand. If it’s not relevant, don’t post it. It’s tempting to share client horror stories or personal trials but it could ultimately hurt your business.
Your image stretches beyond your website and social media into real life. Yes, those 3-D people matter to you, your business and the community. It’s important to connect with them!
When you attend a networking event or 1:1 meeting, what are you wearing? Does it reflect your brand? If you’re looking to attract corporate clients, then you might have a more conservative look, feel and sound than if it’s skateboarding millennials.
Think about who you’re meeting when you leave the house or video conferencing.
When I go to a networking event, I wear business casual clothing, including an item in my signature color and my glasses. My colleague Tabitha Dumas helped me identify my signature color and style so I stick with it. It’s part of my brand.
Personal branding matters because you are your brand. Each time you get online or go to a meeting, you’re portraying an image to clients and prospects. It’s that image that attracts them to you and makes them choose to work with you over someone else. Your brand is everything so define and reflect it always.
Anne McAuley Lopez is a Mesa, Arizona based wife, stepmom, dog lover, and professional blogger. When she’s not writing or spending time with family and friends, she’s watching romantic comedies, eating tacos, or walking her dog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.