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The Difference Between an Audience, Niche and Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA)

As a new or aspiring business owner, it is imperative that you understand the difference between an audience, niche, and ideal customer avatar (ICA).

It is also important to understand how all three fit together in your marketing strategy and your business. Understanding these as a basic foundation will help you in every aspect of your business moving forward.

It will help you attract your ideal client, the people you really want to work with, and help you focus your energy and marketing on those people you can help with the services you offer.

Your Audience

group of women

Basically, your audience is WHO you are talking to. It is a specific group of people with similar characteristics.

It is NOT an industry.

For example, some people say they work with “business owners” or “women” or even “anyone.”

That is a HUGE group of people. You have to be more specific.

A few examples of an audience…

  • Small business owners who gross $50,000 a year but do not have a storefront, only an online business
  • Online business owners who have started their business in the last year and do not have any help
  • Women business owners who have an online coaching business and want to grow it
  • Mothers who have children under the age of 5 who work from home
  • Divorced women over 50 who are trying to date again
  • A women divorcing because of infidelity
  • Single moms who just became single and are feeling overwhelmed
  • Businesses with an email list of under 1000 people
  • Coaches/consultants who are building an online course
  • People with gastrointestinal problems where medication is not helping
  • Couples with struggling marriages who are determined to make it work

Defining your audience to a specific group of people is vital as you connect with them via social media and your own marketing.

You will know exactly WHO you are talking to which will help you know what to say.

If you don’t know WHO you are talking to in your business, you are essentially talking to no one!

difference between an audience and niche, woman standing out from a crowd

Remember, narrow down your audience to a specific group of people with similar characteristics.

Your Niche

Once you have defined your specific audience, you can create a niche statement.

Your niche statement uses your specific audience, adds the problem you help them solve (how you help them), and the benefits they get from working with you.

A niche is specifically WHO you help (your audience), the problem you help them solve, and the benefit to them.

It is a combination of your audience and how you help them.

To create a niche statement for your business:

  1. Start with a phrase like: “I help…”, “I empower…”, “I assist…” or “I motivate…”
  2. List your audience
  3. Talk about the problem you help them solve
  4. List the benefit to them

Some examples of niche statements from the audience examples above:

  • I teach online small business owners who gross over $50,000 a year how to grow their business to 100K in six months without working more hours.
  • I help aspiring online business owners who have started their business in the last year to get all the “techy stuff” set up so the backend of their business can be automated and they can spend their time doing what they love.
  • I assist mothers with children under the age of five who work from home to create work/life balance and be “present” for their kids yet still run a full-time profitable online business.
  • I empower divorced women over 50 who are starting to date again to be confident in themselves and their decisions and thoroughly enjoy this stage of life.
  • I work with moms who have recently become single and are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and fearful to move forward with faith, find their balance, gain confidence in themselves and feel joy again.
  • I train business owners with an email list of under 1000 to double their list in six months so they can sign up new coaching clients and sell their online course.

Notice, all of these start with a power statement, then add the audience, then the problem you are solving, and then a benefit.

Some people may be thinking, this is too specific. What I have to offer really can help anyone, not just those listed in the niche statement.

And you’re right.

But remember, you can’t talk to everyone. You can’t market to everyone. Or no one will be listening.

People are generally smart. From your niche statement, they can figure out if what you offer is for them or not.  And if it’s not, they won’t want to work with you. And that’s okay!

But if it is for them, they will know, even if they don’t fit exactly.

difference between an audience and niche, mother with young children

For example, your audience may be moms with children under that age of 5. If a mother is reading your marketing material, or your website, or your social media posts, and she has kids over 5 but what you are saying resonates with her, she will still listen.

She will still click on links you direct her to.

She will know if the problem you are helping solve fits her situation.

Defining a niche doesn’t mean you can’t work with other people, it just means there is a certain group of people with a specific problem that you are really good at solving. That’s who you are talking to.

A funny thing always happens when you niche down… you will get other clients outside of your niche. 

People will still refer you to their friends, others outside of your defined audience will find you, people will see how you help and the benefits you offer and want your services.

A niche helps you focus your efforts and optimize everything you do in your business.

Your Ideal Client Avatar

If you have done any reading on the subject of marketing, listened to any podcasts, attended any workshops, etc. you have probably heard the term “Ideal Client Avatar” or ICA.

An Ideal Client Avatar is a general description of the ideal person you want as your client.

Based on your audience, it’s a description of who this person is, what he/she looks like, how she feels, her characteristics and even personality.

Writing this out can help as you create marketing materials, emails, etc. 

difference between an audience and niche, woman over 50

For example, using the niche statement, “I empower divorced women over 50 who are starting to date again to be confident in themselves and their decisions and thoroughly enjoy this stage of life,” your ideal client avatar could sound like:

“A women age 55, has been divorced for 3 years, all her children are grown and out of the house, and she lives alone in small house she loves. She has a full-time job and occasionally goes out with her girlfriends on the weekends.

She loves to travel but hates to go alone. She loves to go out to eat to new restaurants, but wants a companion to join her. Her life is fine, but she is ready for a companion again and wants to actually enjoy this stage of her life. The dating scene has changed dramatically over the last 35 years when she last dated, and she has no idea where to begin. Online dating sites are scary.

Since her divorce, she is not confident in her abilities to “choose a good man.” She has gone on a couple dates, and they have not turned out well, or the guy was really “weird.” Basically, she has no idea “how to do this” again, but wants to try. She needs someone to help her feel confident in her decisions, let her know that a couple bad dates are okay, understand how online dating sites and apps work, and not have to ask her kids for help.”

This is not something that is set is stone, and its often not something you even talk about much. But it is something that helps you as you create written material in your business.

If you have an idea of your ideal client in mind when you are writing, it helps in the creation process. You can speak to that person’s pain and better connect with what he/she is feeling or experiencing. You will use words that resonate with them specifically.

A word of caution, sometimes demographics don’t really matter, so don’t dwell on what doesn’t matter.

In the above example, it does matter that this is a woman over 50 because that is the specific group you are helping. How you help and what you would say to a divorced woman over 50 would be different than how you would help a 24 year-old single mom of two kids.

However, if you are training business owners with an email list of under 1000, it doesn’t matter if this is a man or woman. Age and where they live probably don’t matter. In this case, your ideal client avatar is going to be more about characteristics like,

“A business owner who has been working on building an email list for over a year, someone who has a free opt-in but can’t seem to get people to sign up for it, someone who offers great coaching and wants more clients, and someone who has created a course he wants to sell to his list.”

Your ideal customer avatar should describe a person you would want to talk to about the problems you help solve or the things you help others with.

Difference Between an Audience and Niche, woman standing out from the crowd

Putting it All Together and How This Helps Your Business

Understanding the difference between an audience, niche and ideal customer avatar can help you narrow your focus and grow your business.

You will know exactly who you are talking to, what pains they are feeling, what problems they are having, and how what you offer benefits them.

Essentially, you will talk to the people you can help, say things that resonate with them, and ultimately grow your business.

You won’t be wasting your time with people you can’t help, people who don’t need your help, or people who really wouldn’t benefit from what you offer.

If you are in a service business, you aren’t trying to coerce people to sign up for something they don’t need, you are truly trying to serve others and you want to reach the most people possible in the best way.

Start with defining your audience.

Then create a niche statement for your business.

Finally, visualize your ideal client or (ICA) as you move forward and create materials for your business.

Download “The 5-Step Process to Clearly Defining Your Niche,” a free worksheet and guide to help you put the steps together, write it all out, and move forward with confidence!

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