I didn't sleep well last night. Whether it was my legs that hurt from my 15 mile ride or that there was just too much on my mind; I just couldn't rest. Not to disturb my wife I settled down in my studio/office to watch some television until I relaxed enough to go back to sleep - a proven strategy that's worked for me over the years.
If you've never watched television around 2:00-4:00AM before, I have tell you that you'd be surprised at the totally bizarre people and products that are on at that time of the night/morning - the phase, "Wow, they only come out at night" definitely applies.
Two Annoying Divas:
While I was flipping channels during this 2 hour bout with insomnia I eventually landed on MTV and saw a video from Lady Gaga - for what song I can't remember, but what stuck with me was the thought, "Exactly what planet is this girl from? What a freak."
But I'd have to admit, like most people under 40, I've at least heard of Lady Gaga but I'd never seen her before. Hmmm, after seeing Ms Gaga strut her stuff in one of her latest videos I came to the conclusion that whatever she was selling with her voice, peculiar costumes and barely comprehendible lyrics - I wasn't buying it. Time to change the station...
I flipped the station to another channel, regretting the exasperating two minutes I spent trying to understand what the hell the Ms Gaga video was all about. I figured anything would be better than watching Lady Gaga. In fact, I didn't think there'd be any conceivable way that I'd find someone more bizarre than her - I was wrong. I went from a Lady Gaga video to an infomercial for one of Richard Simmon's, "Sweatin' to the Oldies" fitness videos. Lucky me, huh? If I thought Lady Gaga was "out there", Richard Simmons, this aging fitness diva, was certainly giving a Ms Gaga a run for her money.
As I watched this infomercial I couldn't help but smile and even chuckle to myself as I watched happy but goofy-looking, middle-aged people (wearing clothes right out of the 80's), trying their darndest to sweat off the loads of pounds they'd accumulated over the last 20-40 years of their life. I am not sure if I should have found this humorous, inspiring or just plain sad. I felt them all at the same time. After a few minutes of Richard's shrill voice and bad background music I finally decided to make my way back to bed. Before I went to sleep I thought, "Isn't it funny that these two people can turn out such garbage, and yet they are both rich and famous? How is that even possible?"
The answer to that question is actually pretty simple: neither Lady Gaga nor Richard Simmons really cares a bit about me or what I think (an athletic male in his late thirties). What I mean is that they've ingeniously defined a very tight market niche that they're marketing to, and I don't fit into their target audience. They don't care about me and what I think...and if I were them, I wouldn't care either.
With her outlandish image and persona, Lady Gaga targets younger kids in middle school to college. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Richard Simmons is targeting older and or out-of-shape people. Since I don't fall into any of these categories, you could guess that I probably won't be interested in, nor will I buy from either of these two personalities. But for both of them this isn't necessarily a bad thing, they've wisely decided to target a specific audience and they've made a butt-load of money while doing it. I'll never buy anything from either of these two crazy people, but I have to give them a tremendous amount of credit for defining a specific group of people and coming up with an image and products that those people would want. Brilliant.
What Do Lady Gaga and Richard Simmons Have to do with Your Freelancing Business?
I thought about all of these things in the context of running a freelancing business. I thought about how many times over the years I've talked with aspiring freelancers that told me, "Hey, everyone out there is a potential client. My strategy is just to market to the broadest audience I can, and that's how I'll become successful." I've then seen the long-term results of that strategy - most of the time they failed.
The key to finding success in targeting a specific client base or audience is to strike a balance between narrowing your audience (like Lady Gaga and Richard Simmons) and making sure there are enough people in your audience to run a successful business. When you think about who you're marketing to, do you try to get anyone and everyone you can or are you more specific like Lady Gaga and Richard Simmons?