One of the most commonly asked questions I hear about Markitecture is, “Why focus on such a specific market? Isn’t that kind of limiting?”
It’s also one of the first responses that firm management has when the advice to them is, “Choose only one or two specific target markets.”
Segmenting your market offers huge benefits when it comes to maximizing your marketing budget and time. For example, a clear focus on institutional design as a firm means far less wasted effort on RFP responses where you aren’t quite qualified but you think you have a good shot anyways. It also means fewer marketing dollars spent on advertising or events outside of your main area of focus.
Your content can be (and has to be) specific to your clients’ needs. Messaging written to highlight your strengths and primary areas of expertise lends more credibility and eliminates the “fluff.” Fluff proposals sound something like:
XYZ Design is a 15 person multi-disciplinary architecture firm that specializes in projects in the residential, mixed-use, commercial, institutional and educational markets.
While your fifteen person firm may represent project work in all of those markets, fifteen people probably aren’t specializing in that many different project types. Perhaps more importantly, as a prospective client reading your proposal, I likely only represent one of those! If you’re clear and concise about your target market, you can write proposals that are honest and specific. If you find yourself not able to be specific, you might be outside of your main target audience. (Of course, a strategic focus on a new target market is the exception because you know you’re outside of your traditional market)
Being strategic in your approach, and specific in your actions allows you to measure things every step of the way. Concentrating on only certain markets means you can track your success, benefit from and benchmark against industry data, and correct the ship if you’re going off course. If all of your marketing reports are just a mixed bag and your mailing list includes everybody you’re ever worked with, you can’t gauge your effectiveness as well.
For most firms under the national or multi-national threshold, the truth is that it would be very hard to specialize in and service six completely different target audiences. Yes, it IS a bit limiting to focus your marketing efforts on a smaller sample of people…it limits your losses, your expenses and your time spent barking up the wrong tree!