Defining Your Target Audience as a Small Business Owner: Why It Matters

As a small business owner, defining your target audience is a crucial decision that can inform your marketing efforts, product or service offerings, and customer relationships. As a small one-person type foundry I have been stealthing along without a formal definition of my audience for years – just feeling it out, as one does when your business is just getting started. As I make efforts to increase my audience and create more engaging content it would help to have a better picture of my ideal customer, so let’s pull on our business hats and write down our findings in a note! 🧢→🎩

Two things triggered this sudden need to define my ideal customer: One was a Creative Mornings Field Trip called “Get More Traffic & Make More Sales” led by Arienne Foulks. She talked about understanding the ideal customer for your business in the context of targeting more high-quality web traffic (which is definitely something I need!). I also received an email newsletter from my friend Kenneth Ormandy on the same day which pointed out that if your competitors are other type foundries, having “we make fonts” as your specialization doesn’t set you apart from everyone else in the industry. Oops 😅

The universe was clearly trying to point me toward defining my direction more and it’s probably right – If I want my business to resonate with people, I need to know who I am talking to and why. What makes a business unique and the definition of an ideal customer are intertwined, related concepts.

In order to define my audience beyond just being “designers,” I started with the strengths of my business and how I already stand out from the crowd. I found a big clue while looking at my website traffic. I noticed a few visits from (run by Justin Penner, another Vancouver type designer!) and went to see why it was linking to my website. I found two links: one was for streaming live type design on Twitch, and one mentioned my all-in-one licensing model. These are a couple of things that are really unique to me and my foundry across the industry. I probably knew this already, but now I have some evidence to back it up.

To build on that further, I tried to picture a person that would appreciate these two things and thought about what else they might be into. Likely, they are primarily a digital designer and they appreciate it when digital products function well and have a good user experience. They are curious and take deeper dives into topics. They are interested in how the sausage (or font in our case) gets made. Maybe they enjoy video games and are likely immersed in social media and internet culture. They are familiar with current technology and curious about what’s next.

When I finished writing this description I realized that I pretty much described myself 😂. This isn’t a negative though – I can tailor my licensing and typeface catalogue to their needs, and speak directly to them because we are interested in the same things. This can inform my business specialization. I can say something more specific like “I make fonts that are equipped for digital projects” or “I make fonts that are created openly through play and experimentation”. These are the things that make my business unique so I should lean into them more.

After going through the exercise of defining my business specialization and ideal customer I feel like I already figured this out at some point but got lost along the way. I fell into the trap of trying to sell to everyone – instead, I need to focus on appealing to the people who will appreciate what I have to offer. Thanks for wearing your business hat for a moment, we can now resume being designers! 🎩→🧢