Defining the target audience for your brand is the single most important task when building a strong brand. So many soap & bath product business owners struggle with this, and I understand why.
It is because you did things backwards.
When a major brand, like Unilever, wants to expand, they pick a segment that is underserved by their business, and create products to serve that segment. The target comes first, and then the products are created AFTERWARDS.
Unfortunately, for 99% of soapers, the story unfolded differently. A hobby was discovered that turned into a passion, then an obsession. So much soap (or bath bombs or lotion) was created, that the idea of starting a business was born. A habit was formed early on that creates ongoing challenges, and that habit is to make an eclectic assortment of products because you make what you like to make (and use).
If this sounds familiar, don’t give up hope, but you need to acknowledge a few things.
(1) You won’t be able to include every product that YOU like in your product line up. If you are like most crafters, you have a wide variety, or in some cases a HUGE variety of products.
(2) If you want to build a thriving brand based on the products you make, the path to that goal lies on the road marked “BIG FISH, SMALL POND”. That means you have to be REALLY specific about who your brand targets.
(3) Limiting your target audience will NOT hurt your sales. I PROMISE YOU. It will help your sales. I did not make this up – this is how indie brands succeed in markets with huge players – they don’t try to be everything to everyone.
(4) Your target audience is NOT you. Don’t try to force this. You won’t sell much if you make your target a slightly modified version of yourself. WHY? You make products, you are a crafter, you are a DIY-er. If you market to yourself, you will attract other people who like to make their own products.
I learned this lesson early on. My first blog in the soap world was about how to make hot process soap. I loved to write about it, take photos of my process, and I got LOADS and LOADS of traffic to that blog. But no online sales 🙁 and it was because I was teaching other soapers how to make HP soap, and I was not attracting people who wanted to buy my products.
(5) Defining your target audience is a process. It is not something most brands do in 5 minutes, or rush through. It is critical though. While you go through the process, repeat this phrase:
“Take the hard route now, and have an easier time with sales & marketing later. Take the easy route now, and have a hard time with sales & marketing later.”
(6) Your target audience is not defined by your products. In other words, people who like your products, or your classification of products is NOT a target audience. So, the following are NOT actual target audiences:
- People who like natural soaps
- People who like scented products
- People who don’t want toxic ingredients in their bath & body products
(7) Be specific. If you target a very broad audience, your marketing messages will not connect with anyone. Imagine if you were a restaurant, and your target audience was adults 18-55 who like to eat delicious food. Because you wanted to be inclusive of everyone, you serve 40 different dishes, and in your marketing you said you have “loads of great food!”
Big deal. People can get food anywhere. What is so special about your food?
Using that same example, if a restaurant specialized in Jamaican cuisine, and marketed to people who love spicy, tropical dishes that transport them to a paradise in the Caribbean, the people who want that specific type of food would be ATTRACTED to the brand via marketing.
(8) A clearly defined & specific target is KEY to selling online. This is a requirement unless your friends & family are going to support your business exclusively. It also makes selling wholesale a LOT easier. Once you know who your ideal customer is, you can find other businesses that ALSO sell to the same target. This will save you the hassle of trying to get your products into stores that are not a good fit for your brand.
Without a target audience, your marketing efforts will be shooting arrows in the dark. It is very hard to hit a target if you can’t see it. You might get lucky every now and then, but if you want consistent revenue from your marketing efforts, you need to turn the lights on. Once you have a definition of your SPECIFIC target audience, you can actually SEE who you are attracting, and use your marketing program like you would a magnet.
If you would like to learn how define your target audience with my help, you have two options.