Niche and Ideal Client are buzzwords among business owners, right? And in many cases, they’re used interchangeably.
But as I explained in a recent post, “3 Reasons Your Ideal Client—Not Your Target Market or Niche—Is a Cornerstone of Building Your Love-Based Business,” there’s a huge difference between niche and ideal client.
The distinction is an important one, and that’s why I wanted to revisit the topic today.
First of all, let’s recap. What IS the difference between niche and ideal client?
A niche is a subsection of a target market. A target market is a broad demographic of people. To really dial in on what this means in terms of marketing, let’s look at the definition of demographic: “a particular sector of a population.”
Typically when we talk about demographics, we’re talking about external factors like age, career type, income, or location.
So if your target market was 35-year-old women looking for a business opportunity, then you’d dial in even deeper to find your niche; for example, your niche may be 35-year-old stay-at-home mothers looking for a business opportunity.
An ideal client takes the concept of a niche even deeper. The concept is based on internal factors, like values, desires, and hopes.
When we talk about an ideal client, we’re talking about a specific person, what motivates and inspires her, and what she truly wants at her core.
Since we’re going deeper, let’s drill down with 35-year-old mother example.
Here’s what we have so far:
Target market: women looking for a business opportunity.
Niche: stay-at-home moms looking for a business opportunity.
Right away, I can think of two distinct ideal client groups in this niche.
Ideal Client Group One: A woman who wants this business opportunity not because of money (she has a partner or another source of income that funds her family and her life), but because she feels like she’s losing herself in the roles of wife and mother. She feels guilty for thinking, “Is this all there is?” especially when her neighbor, a mom with a full-time job, tells her how lucky she is that she’s able to stay home with the kids. This ideal client needs flexibility and the option to work as many or as few hours as she wants. She is very clear that being a wife and a mother come first, and she wants the time to be able to cheer at soccer games and pick up dry cleaning without stressing about her business.
Ideal Client Group Two: A woman who has found herself in a position where she needs to be the breadwinner for the family. Money absolutely IS an issue, while flexibility and number of hours required aren’t.
Take a moment to think about the pain each ideal client is going through.
Ideal Client Group One: This mom feels like she’s lost herself. She wants to get in touch with herself again, to establish her own identity separate from that of being a wife and mother. She can afford not to work (although perhaps she may want to bring in some money for “extras,” like vacations or to beef up her children’s college tuition fund), and her priority will always be her wife and mom duties.
Ideal Client Group Two: This mom feels a tremendous amount of responsibility. She wants to make money, and would love a steady source of income she can count on to put food on the table. She’s willing to work as much as possible to take care of her family.
Now, if you were the owner of a company who could offer a business opportunity to each of these ideal clients, think about how differently you’d want to market to each one, presenting your business opportunity as the solution to her pain.
Ideal Client Group One: You would position your business opportunity as a way to do her own “thing,” to enjoy the rewards of being a business owner while still having the time and flexibility to be an attentive wife and mother.
Ideal Client Group Two: You would position your business opportunity as a way to make consistent money, starting right away, so she can put food on the table and pay the bills.
So now you understand why knowing the difference between ideal client and niche is so important!
But which one is better to grow your business?
I’m a big believer that the answer is ideal clients.
I don’t feel like niche markets or target markets go deep enough.
Let’s go back to our example. If you market to your niche—stay-at-home moms looking for a business opportunity—you may do okay. Your marketing may resonate with some of the stay-at-home moms out there, whatever their situations are.
But if you market to your ideal client—either the mom who wants to rediscover herself or the one who wants to support her family—then think about how much more strongly your message will resonate.
Every single piece of marketing you put out there will be that much more effective, right?
Now you may be thinking, but my company is great for both ideal clients in my niche! Why can’t I just target both?
To that, I say while yes, I’m sure you absolutely could fully support both, by trying to appeal to both with your messaging, all you’re doing is diluting your message for both groups.
Combining messages by mixing them together makes you look like a Jack of all trades—and a master of none. And, in the vast majority of cases, if they can afford it, people will prefer to work with a specialist over a generalist.
When you pick one ideal client group to focus on (also known as “picking a horse and riding it”) you’ll improve your results and your business will gain momentum—and you’ll be making a positive impact on precisely the people you’re meant to help!
If this topic resonated with you, you may want to pick up your own copy of “Love-Based Copywriting System: A Step-by-Step Process to Master Writing Copy that Attracts, Inspires and Invites (Volume 2 in the Love-Based Business Series).” You can get it here.