Dec 12

Why you need a target market

One of the most efficient (& effective!) marketing tools you can utilize is choosing a narrow group of clients you wish to create for, known as a target market. I know this sounds completely counterintuitive. You want to sell to anyone who will buy, right?

In theory, yes. But you will sell more if you target a smaller audience. Let me explain.

If a customer thinks you are speaking directly to them, you create a more urgent need and desire to buy what you are selling.​ Catering your writing, pricing and imagery to speak to your dream customer will make them feel like they can relate to you. Think of your favorite brand. Do you feel a connection with them? Why?

Let's use an example. Pretend you need to hire a lawyer to draw up a contract for you to sell artwork that will be used in ads.

Would you rather hire someone who:

a) offers *all the services* or

b) works exclusively with artists, is an expert in art licensing and understands exactly what you need

The choice is simple. Human nature will choose “option b” every time. That lawyer speaks your language. He/she becomes instantly relatable. You understand each other. You have things to talk about. You will almost certainly receive a better product, simply because of their speciality. This is who you want to be to your customers - the obvious choice.

"But, Jessica," you say, "I make art. I don't run a startup. People either like what I make or they don't."

If you want to make a living as an artist, you must treat your art like a business. Not everyone in the niche you choose is going to like your art, but the ones that do will be more sold than ever.

This sounds complicated. How do I do it?​

Step 1: Determine Your Archetype

Think of your favorite high school drama movie. There are cliques, right? The skater, the prep, the intellectual, the hippy, the rebel... you get the idea. Which are you? For the purposes of marketing, embrace your archetype. You are more complicated, of course, but we want others to be able to easily classify you in their mind.​

Picture Banksy. What do you remember about him? He is a favorite among activists and those who ignore "what you are supposed to do." Short answer - he is a rebel.

Step 2: Evaluate Your Art

What kind of art do you make? If you are all over the place - what is your favorite? What do you want to focus on?

Many artists struggle with the idea of being tied down. If this is you, pick at least one consistent theme. Maybe you only use pencils. Maybe your theme is feminism. Maybe your canvas is always round. Pick a constant and you will be able to sway within those boundaries.

Step 3: Put it together.

You might be an intellectual who creates complicated line drawings. Or, you are a hippy who creates using a love theme. Maybe you are a prep who creates patterned wall paper.

Create an image of yourself in your mind. You aren't going to share this description directly to describe yourself, but you will use it to create a character that you will display to the public.

Step 4: Who would buy you?

Imagine the character you just created. Who would be attracted to that person? Who would want to be associated with him/her?

Much of the business of art is your fans wanting to show off. Their connection with you, the oh-so-popular artist in their circle, elevates their status. Maybe they have an exclusive original you created or they commissioned you to make something special. They want to tell all their friends about it, which makes their friends want to buy you too.

What does this person look like? Maybe they are a...

  • Coffeeshop hipster who is kinda broke but will buy plenty of prints to wallpaper his/her house
  • Cool couple who only buys local, reasonably priced art
  • High-end collector whose art is a part of his/her investment portfolio

Step 5: Create with your dream customer in mind.

When you make anything, create with the person who would buy you in mind. This includes...

  • Your website/email/social media copy​
  • Any online imagery you produce
  • Your artwork!

Let's do an example. 

Step 1: ​I am a laid-back, art & vegetable gardening fool who loves computers. This doesn't fit any clique per say, but when people meet me they probably classify me as "granola" (Urban dictionary: Modern hippy woman. May eat tofu for breakfast and sweeten food with agave syrup. Is determined to save the world.)

Step 2: ​I paint abstract, impressionistic landscapes.

Step 3: ​Hippy girl who paints dreamy landscapes.

Step 4: People who want to go back to more natural ways, tree-huggers, dread-locked cafe owners who sell used books on the side, land owners who work hard to preserve diversity... you get the idea. They aren't all the same but have similar values and priorities.

Step 5: When I am creating copy, I will use words like "far out", "sustainable" and "organic". Imagery will be flowy, colorful and include lots of leaves, flowers and trees.

About the Author

I'm a consultant for artist entrepreneurs who have started building their following online but haven’t figured who would buy their art. My unique approach enables artists to create a signature brand around their art and work smarter so they can sell more & spend their days creating beautiful things. My clients have doubled their social media following, raised their prices, and sold 3x more art within a matter of months.

  • Carolyn Kinnison says:

    Helpful, useful! Thanks

  • Marta Cierluk says:

    It helped me a lot. Finally i’ ve done this step after many tries. Great explanation.
    Thank you!!! 🙂

  • This article has been so enlightening – thank you!

  • A very interesting and useful article, thank you

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you I have a lot to think about.

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