Constrain Your Audience, Free Yourself {and Your Business}

Running your own business is tricky business. You might always feel pressed -- pressed for more time, for more money, for more customers.

And it's that drive for more customers {or clients or patients or whatever you prefer to call them} that often makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to get honest with themselves about who their business is really for. But who your business is really for is everything.

This is more than just actionable marketing personas.

What are actionable marketing personas? Personas that are actionable dig beyond what happens in the moment a buyer is deciding whether or not to buy. To make them useful, we need to dig into who your people are and what's important to them.

But doing that work, digging beyond the buying process, is about more than just buyer personas. It's about you...getting clear on what you do, why you do it, and for whom. It's about a business that thrives and makes a difference, vs. a business that limps along because somehow some people happen to find you.

RELATED: 45 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU CREATE USEFUL BUYER PERSONAS

One entrepreneur's journey to uncovering who her business is for. 

This is the story of a client I was privileged to work with recently. When we started the conversation, she believed her business was meant to serve people age 18 to 25 throughout the United States.

By the end of the conversation, she was excited to be rebuilding and redefining a business that would help women of color, age 18 to 25, who are first-generation college students, throughout the United States.

How did we get there?

We asked ourselves:

Where are they

What do we know about them

What do they care about most

What do they worry about most

Who do they look up to

What are they into? What is their daily life like? What do they like? What do they do on a daily basis?

With each question, we got closer to who my client’s ideal client really was. She got more excited about what she knew about these people and why she cared about helping them.

And that was when we could get to the final question, the one that would serve as the jumping-off point for all of our marketing activities going forward:

Why would they care about this business?

We can’t answer that question without having answered all of the preceding questions. And we can’t build any marketing on the answer to that question without bearing in mind the answers to all of the preceding questions.

RELATED: HOW TO CREATE MARKETING PERSONAS THAT ARE ACTUALLY USEFUL

What's standing between you and your marketing personas?

A lot of small business owners are afraid to limit their market too much. They’re afraid that if they clearly define who their business is for, they’ll limit their market...and not be able to thrive. The truth is the opposite -- without limiting your market, you cannot thrive. Without being clear about who you’re for, you can’t make clear to your audience whether you’re for them. And so you attract no one...or very few people. But, if you get really clear about who you’re for, you can get really clear about why you’re for them. You can tell them why you’re for them. Why you matter to them. Why they need you.

By constraining your audience, you free yourself. You free yourself to create marketing that matters. You free yourself to be real about why you do what you do. You free yourself to do the work you’re meant to do with the people who benefit from it most.

RELATED: HOW TO USE YOUR MARKETING PERSONAS

 marketing personas

What's next?

The client in this story has just received her detailed marketing personas. In the coming days, weeks, and months, her marketing and sales activities will evolve. Because the way that she thinks about what she does, why, and for whom, has been released. She’s been released from trying to offer something to everyone. I can’t wait to see how this turns out for her. I’ll come back here soon to let you know how it goes!