The Worst Marketing Mistake Web Designers Make

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The Worst Marketing Mistake Web Designers Make
We all have an amazing opportunity to grow our businesses through marketing, and it is vital that we don’t squander our efforts on the wrong things.  Too many people get marketing wrong because they don’t focus. 

The worst marketing mistake that web designers and developers make is not intentionally targeting a specific market that they can best serve.

How To Define Your Market

The first step to targeting your market is to define who it is.  It can help to try to think of your ideal customer.  You can get as detailed as you’d like, including their age, gender, income bracket, hobbies, or even the type of car they drive.  This is called your niche avatar because it puts a face on who you are trying to reach as a client; you can even give your avatar a fitting name.  Let’s call your potential avatar Bob for now. 

It isn’t that you are locked into only having Bob’s as clients, it just helps you to think about what appeals to Bob when you are putting your marketing together.  What are Bob’s needs, his wants and desires?  What does he lie awake at night worrying about?  How can you help Bob?  Of course a lot of Bob’s needs will be the same as Susan’s or Jose’s, and you can certainly take their business, too — but you are targeting Bob.

Another guide in defining your market is to look at your current and past clientele.  Sort out the ones you wouldn’t want to work with again and narrow down the top 20% of your clients.  What do they have in common?  If you want to get as detailed as having an avatar, they should probably look something like these top clients of yours.

Eliminate who you are not targeting.  I can make some broad general assumptions about who you are not targeting right now.  There are not a lot of kids or teenagers with need or resources to require the services of a web developer.  Scratch them off your list.  Chances are you will only do business with those you share a common language with. Scratch the majority of the world who doesn’t speak English or whatever other languages you speak off your list.  (I am assuming you speak English since you are reading this now.)   See, already we have eliminated 90% of the worlds population.  If you want to focus locally, you can scratch off anyone outside of your city, state or region off your list.

You can see how narrowing who you want to reach with your marketing can drastically reduce the amount of money and effort that you need to put into it.  “But doesn’t this decrease my chances of getting business?”  NO!  It multiplies your money and time because now you are more likely to reach potential customers by tailoring your message to actually speak to them!

Now, further define your market by what they do, what kind of business they own or work in, who their clients are that they hope to reach with their website.  Where do they go, both online and in person, that you can market to them most effectively?

Targeting Your Market

A million people may see that billboard ad, but only 100 of them are interested in your services, despite the fact that you paid good money to reach 1 million people.  Instead, find a way to reach 1,000 people where 200 of them may need your services or reach 20 people where you know every one of them will need your services…. I think you get the point. 

By targeting your market you will have a better Return On Investment (ROI).  This will free up your time and money to finish more products or invest in new software… or go on that vacation you have been dreaming of.

What do you think?


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  1. I think you’re exactly right. And you must consistently market to that target group and make that one of the priorities in your daily work schedule. You will get the business when you’re consistent and exact in your marketing.

    Great article!

    • Excellent point about consistency. You can’t just try this for a few days and expect much payoff, but a little bit of time focused on marketing to your target market everyday will eventually payoff big. Thanks Micki!

  2. Great article. Spot on advice for freelancers.

  3. A web designer/developer can target the wrong markets as some of us with the years of experience have learned the hard way knowing there are many such wrong markets.

    For example known deadbeats are bars and restaurants where a person who worked for years to acquire design and development skills will be competing with Little Suzie who took a class which is not to disparage women as there are those out here who have labored as long and as diligently as any of us.

    There are even worse markets; the government provides licenses to a growing number of controlled markets such as architects that allow them to pick and choose who else can lawfully work.

    The architects and lawyers usually have one of their interns do their sites as the interns can be subtly pressured to work on their own hours and spending their own money to learn to code lest they not be assigned the actual work the licensing laws require them to obtain to acquire their own license. This is the way it really works.

    Architects for example are notorious software pirates and almost as bad as construction contractors and subcontractors who generally withhold payment claiming they only pay when paid (by the architects or general contractors they work for.)

    Finally the worst markets of all are any of the non-profits or social services agencies which will do everything they can to turn on the tears to manipulate people to work for them for free or play into their affirmative action racism rackets.

    Lesson #1: do not be a fool and work for the experience as all you do is teach those in the market that you work for free. If anything can be learned let it be this last so-called lesson.

    Yes, from time to time volunteering to learn your chops can lead to a successful step up but the people in these markets all know each other and if you think they do not talk to one another about who can be had for free or next to nothing you are niave.

    Each market has its learning curve and some of them will leave you with battle scars you do not need. Be advised then to learn as much about markets as you possibly can before attempting to earn a living by targeting and focusing on any given market.


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