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  • Writer's pictureJacob Curtis

Stop Shooting Arrows in the Fog, Get Laser-Focused

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Who is your target customer? I get a mix of answers when I ask this, but they generally boil down to “everyone.” However, this is a huge mistake. You worry about narrowing down your target market because you don’t want to exclude any potential customers.

However, narrowing your focus to a target customer will actually make your life less stressful. When you niche down and narrow your target market, your message resonates better, which will make your marketing more effective. By focusing on the right target market for your quilt shop, you’ll get a better return on the time, money, and the energy you invest.

Most large company advertising falls under the mass marketing category, sometimes called “branding.” When small businesses like quilt shops copy this tactic, the theory is that they are just trying “to get their name out there,” and if they broadcast their message enough, they will, by chance, find their target and get a buying customer. But this is like an archer in the middle of a foggy field shooting arrows in all directions, trying to hit their target that they can’t see. How many arrows are they going to have to shoot before they randomly hit their target? How much does that cost?

Successful small businesses and quilt shops need a laser-like focus on a narrow target market, sometimes called a niche.

You may be wondering why you would niche down or limit your market so much; here’s why. First, you have a limited amount of money. If you focus too broadly, your marketing message will become diluted and weak. And second, relevance. The goal of your ad is for your prospects to say, “Hey, that’s for me.”

A 100-watt light bulb, like the kind we normally use in our homes, lights up a room. But a 100-watt laser can cut through steel. Same energy but dramatically different results. The difference is how the energy is focused. The exact same thing is true for your marketing.

Being all things to all people leads to marketing failure. This doesn’t mean you can’t offer a wide variety of products and services, but understand that each category is a separate campaign.

Targeting a narrow market allows you to become a big fish in a small pond. It allows you to dominate a category or geography that is impossible when you are being a generalist.

The type of niches that you want to go after are an inch wide and a mile deep. An inch wide means it is a highly targeted category subsection. A mile deep means many people are looking for a solution to that specific problem. Once you dominate one niche, you can expand your business by finding another profitable and highly targeted niche and then dominate that one.

Now, you can have all the advantages of being targeted without limiting the potential size of your quilt shop.

Niching makes price irrelevant. Trying to get everyone really means you’re targeting no one. By going too broad, you will kill your “specialness” and become a commodity bought on price. You become a specialist by narrowly defining your target market for which you can wow and deliver huge results.

There are a few methods to help you identify your target market or ideal customer. The first method is Frank Kern’s PVP index. The first step is to segment your customers and potential customers into segments. Then, for each segment, give them a rating out of ten in three categories: personal fulfillment, value to the marketplace, and profitability.

When rating for personal fulfillment, ask, “How much do I enjoy dealing with this type of customer?”

When rating for value to the marketplace, ask, “How much does this type of customer value what I offer? Are they willing to pay me a lot for it?”

When rating for profitability, ask, “How profitable is this?” Sometimes, you may charge higher fees for services, but the cost is also high, and your profitability is quite low. Remember, it’s not about the “turnover,” it’s about the “leftover.”

After rating each segment or customer type, tally their ratings; the customer type with the highest rating wins–this is your ideal customer, your target market, or your niche.

The second method, and the one I prefer, is to do a top customer analysis developed by Mike Michalowicz. The first step is to create a list of the top twenty customers who have spent the most money with you over the last twelve months. You want to analyze these customers because they have shown the greatest appreciation for you by giving you more money than any other customer.

Next, you will rate each customer out of ten on various factors, from the crush/cringe factor to projects they make, their attitudes, their average cart size, the frequency of buying, and the products and services they buy. You get to decide the factors, but don’t be too crazy–keep the factors to less than ten but more than three.

Tally up their ratings. You will create your ideal customer avatar from the top ten rated customers.

For new quilt shops that don’t have a lot of customers or buying history, you need to research the market and industry to help you identify your target market.

These are not the only methods for identifying target markets. Regardless of the method you use to identify your target market, you must create an ideal customer avatar. The ideal customer avatar is the persona you will consider as you create and execute your marketing strategy. A customer avatar gives us laser focus.

Who is your ideal target customer? Be as specific as possible about all the attributes that may be relevant. What is their gender, age, and geography?

Do you have a picture of them? If so, cut it out or print it and look at it as you answer the following questions:

  • What keeps them up at night, with their eyes open, staring at the ceiling?

  • What are they afraid of?

  • What are they angry about?

  • Who are they angry at?

  • What are their top daily frustrations?

  • What trends are occurring and will occur in their lives?

  • What do they secretly desire most?

  • Is there a built-in bias in the way they make decisions? For example, engineers are exceptionally analytical.

  • Do they have their own language or jargon they use?

  • What magazines do they read?

  • What websites do they visit?

  • What’s this person’s day like?

  • What is the main dominant emotion they feel?

  • What is the ONE thing they crave above all else?

These are not theoretical questions. They are the key to your marketing success. Unless you can get into your prospect's mind, all your marketing efforts will be wasted–no matter how well you execute them.

Unless you are a part of your target market, then a large part of your initial marketing efforts should be directed at in-depth research, interviews, and careful study of your target market.

An avatar is a detailed exploration and description of your target customer and their life. Like a police sketch artist, you piece together a composite that creates a vivid picture of them in your mind. It helps to tell their story so that you can visualize life from their perspective.

Here is an example of a customer avatar for a quilt shop:

  • Donna is in her mid-60s.

  • She and her husband are both retired within the last few years and live on the outskirts of a major metropolitan city–far enough away from the hustle and bustle but close enough that it’s not a big deal when they want to “go into town” for a show or go to the airport.

  • She worked part-time for 20 years while her four children were in school, and combined with her husband's successful career, they are now able to travel to see their ten grandchildren spread across the country.

  • They drive modest, higher-end automobiles that are a few years old but are comfortable.

  • She loves to quilt in her spare time and makes quilts for her new grandbabies, birthdays, graduations, and weddings for her family, friends, and charities.

  • She quilts an average of a quilt a month, sometimes more if the projects are smaller or easier to piece.

  • She quilts for the joy of creating cute but functional quilts.

  • Each Sunday, they attend church, and each Wednesday, she attends the lady’s Lunch & Sew at the church, which she helped organize for sewing quilts for the local police, hospitals, and shelters.

  • She attends local quilt shows and is a member of the local quilt guild.

  • She occasionally will enter her own quilts in shows but never expects to win any awards.

  • She considers herself an average quilter and loves to try new techniques.

  • She has a dedicated sewing room in her house and watches old TV re-runs while she quilts; Matlock and Bewitched are some of her favorites.

  • She subscribes to Quick + Easy Quilts and American Patchwork & Quilting magazines to give her inspiration for her next projects.

  • Every night at 6 pm, she and her husband turn on the news for an hour. While they watch, she knits or does cross stitch while listening to her husband comment on the state of the economy or whatever is the night's big story.

  • She shops at the local grocery store and farmer’s markets to support her local community.

  • Each Spring, she plants flowers and a small vegetable garden, which takes away from her sewing during the warmer months.

  • She volunteers at her local women’s shelter once a week and teaches traditional home economics, including sewing, classes.

Here is another example:

  • Jennifer is in her early 40’s.

  • She is married and has three kids, ages 12 to 17, all in school.

  • Her husband has a very successful career, and they live in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city–far enough away from the city's hustle but close enough that after-school activities are not a hassle.

  • She drives a minivan, which is great for hauling the kids back and forth.

  • She recently has taken up quilting while her kids are at school.

  • She quilts a quilt about every three months, sometimes more if the projects are smaller or easier to piece. Most of her projects are kits or patterns that she ordered online.

  • She quilts holiday wall hangings, table runners, and pieces of art that she hangs throughout her home.

  • She enters a quilt show about once a year, hoping to win an award for her work of art.

  • She considers herself a new but meticulous quilter and loves to try new, bold fabrics and colors.

  • She has a small corner in her bedroom where she sews during the quiet hours of the weekdays, letting her concentrate on her quilting.

  • She subscribes to McCall’s and Quilting Arts magazines to give her instructions and inspiration for her next projects.

  • Weekends are a blur for her between all the sporting events, church, and chauffeuring.

  • When after-school events allow, they come together for family dinner, but most of the time, she is just hoping for a few minutes to catch up with her husband and kids each evening.

  • She orders her groceries online for pick-up (who has time to walk through the grocery store?).

  • She attends her kids’ sporting events, dance recitals, and rehearsals during the school year, and in the summer, they travel to visit their grandparents and extended family and make memories when her husband can take time off work.

Can you see the difference between these two quilters? They are very different, found in different places, and need different messaging to attract them. This is why it is so important for you to identify your target market and have laser focus.

Hopefully, you can see how powerful having a target market and avatars are. They are the marketing equivalent of method acting. They get you right into your prospect's mind, a perspective that will be absolutely crucial when crafting your message to your target market.

Who is your target market? What’s the name of your avatar? Send me an email at

If you need help with this and piecing together financial freedom, please schedule a call with me by clicking the link below.


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