Pivoting in Business: Shifting to a New Target Audience

Whether you jumped into solopreneurship with complete clarity or you dove in with more motivation than vision, it’s not uncommon to encounter the desire of shifting into a new target audience somewhere along your journey. 

Not sure if you’re in the need for a new audience? 

Here are some signs you might need a shift:

  • You’re not enjoying the kind of work you’re doing and the clients you’re doing it for 
  • Your brand and personal core values don’t align with the industry or clients you’re working with 
  • Your goals for your business’ offerings and the impact you desire to make don’t match your clients’ needs or wants

If that sounds all too familiar, keep reading because in this article, we’ll help you put the plan in motion to find the right audience that will help you find solopreneur success and satisfaction:

Where to Begin Gaining Clarity 

First, take the signs we outlined above and flip them into questions, then start with examining your answers (the more specific, the better) as you move into the next section:

  • Why don’t you like the work you’re doing? What is it about your clients and customers that you find unenjoyable? Is it just your work you find lackluster (if so, maybe it’s not your audience that needs adjusting, but your offerings)? 
  • What are the core values you embody in your business? How are those at odds with the industry you work within or the clients you serve?
  • What’s the greater vision for your work and your business? Does the group of people you’re currently working with or creating for fit into that future vision?

While there are plenty of factors that play into whether or not you’ll enjoy working with a client or customer (i.e. - Are you setting your prices to feel fairly compensated? Are you setting enough boundaries?), the answers to these questions can provide clear indicators and patterns that show exactly in what areas you need to change in regards to your audience. 

Where to Start With Shifting Your Audience 

Before you can begin shifting your target audience, you need to set your sights on a new one. 

Even if you’re not 100% sure of the detailed specifics of your new target audience, having a direction to aim for is crucial for ensuring that your pivot doesn’t turn into a spin-out headed nowhere, confusing potential clients and customers in the process. 

Now, you may decide you want to do a total 180 from your current audience, but if that doesn’t feel comfortable for your business stability, making a small initial pivot could be the better solution to start with.

For example, when I first started in business (hi, Danielle here!), I started by focusing on marketing for the “health and wellness” industry since that was my corporate background. 

However, as I began working with clients on my own who identified in this sector, I found that my personal values as well as my passion lied in more of the “holistic wellness” realm. I enjoyed working with the clients who identified as holistic practitioners better, and as a result, enjoyed the work more (even though nothing about my offerings changed). 

This shift didn’t feel like abandoning ship or completely starting from scratch, rather a way to get more specific and weed out those clients who weren’t who I wanted to work while simultaneously drawing in more of those I did. 

Taking a small shift to spur the change I desired was key for:

  1. Making me feel comfortable with the risk level of moving away from clients who were ready and willing to work with me
  2. Not requiring any additional investment of time, energy or money because all that was needed to shift was a change in my web copy and marketing messaging 

Now, all that to say, your business, your rules. 

Nothing says you can’t do an about face in a new direction, but it helps to have an idea of what that direction is so you don’t risk going around in circles. (Seriously, there’s science behind this phenomena.)

Clarifying Question: Is there an element of your audience, like a sub-sector, that you can become more specific with? Will that help to refine your roster of clients and customers to be more in line with what you want out of your work?

Navigating Mid-Shift 

Once changes are afoot mid-pivot, you’ll likely find a newfound momentum.

After all, the unknown is what’s scariest, but now that you’ve already begun to make a shift in your new direction, taking another slight shift likely won’t seem so daunting. 

Once you’ve begun to see some changes from your initial shift, let’s answer these questions:

  • Has my satisfaction with my work increased based on the clients and customers I’m working with?
  • Do I feel like my core values are better represented between myself and the people I serve?
  • Has it become easier to generate new leads and close sales?

The answers to these mid-shift questions may be clarifying enough to feel like you’ve made the necessary changes needed. And if that’s the case, jump ahead! 

If it still feels like there’s more work to be done, that’s one of the best solutions: do more work. 

More often than not, we find the best fit with our work when we’ve done a good share of work that shows us what we don’t want. 

And while the idea of doing work you’re not crazy about may not seem ideal, if you’re intentional about being aware of which elements you find enjoyment in and which you don’t, you can continually make mid-shift pivots that set you on the right path for your most purposeful work. 

(Sidebar: this process may take a couple of months or perhaps a couple of years, there is no deadline or timeframe you have to stick to when determining what kind of business and clientele you want to devote your time to serving.)

Completing Your Target Audience Pivot 

With this gradual pivot approach, the ultimate goal is that as you continue to make mid-shift steps, you’ll eventually lock in with the target audience that feels like the perfect fit and fires on all cylinders. 

To reference back to my example of pivoting from the health and wellness industry, after making the simple shift to working with experts in the holistic wellness niche, I began to work with more wellness studios and health coaches, which then gave way to working with other aligned professionals such as massage therapists and estheticians.  

Through the process of that initial pivot and several mid-shift pivots in between, I’ve arrived at my perfect-fit audience, which is spa and wellness experts who own brick and mortar businesses. 

That level of specificity wasn’t something I could set my sights on from the start, but through small, individual shifts and awareness throughout the process, by the end of the transition to a new target audience I could clearly and confidently call out exactly who I serve. 

And with that clarity comes the greater ease to change the additional elements that come with pivoting your audience such as revamping your brand design, offerings, or how you show up for your audience and build relationships with them. 

So, whether you’re a solopreneur who likes to navigate new waters with a run-and-jump approach, or an inch-in-slowly philosophy, there’s no “right” pace to making a pivot in your target audience. 

The key is remaining aware of what you want (in the here-and-now as well as big picture), and making incremental shifts closer to what feels joyful and easy rather than stressful and resistance-filled. 

Are you on the cusp of making a pivot in your business or in the midst of one? What’s your mindset been throughout the process of deciding and shifting?

  1. […] our last couple of posts within our Pivoting in Business series, we talked about shifting to a new target audience as well as navigating new business opportunities, and in this final piece of the series, we’re […]

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