Starting

Who are you hustling to?

- December 6, 2020 2 MIN READ

In this new, slightly weird, new world of work I’m starting side hustles like hipsters start scooters. I’ve long been a fan of the ‘portfolio business’ – that is a number of creative pursuits all providing a trickle of revenue that (hopefully) combine to give a viable income – and right now I’m in full create mode.

When I recently turned my love for iconic, modernist chairs into a new venture, I started where I always begin: Defining my ideal customer.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the way to get into the topic is to draw a parallel with the world of dating and how to attract your perfect life partner.

Whether or not you’ve had any first hand experience of online dating, just imagine you’re sitting down now and compiling your own profile, one that would appeal to the person of your dreams.

If I were doing it, I’d certainly say more than “Hey, I’m looking for a woman!”

And yet, many soloists make somewhat desperate, unspecific pleas in the misguided belief that when it comes to getting noticed a broad, general message is better than a narrow targeted approach.

The business equivalent is the mindset of targeting “Anyone with a credit card”.

People rarely connect emotionally to broad messages. And without a specific hook to latch on, it’s hard for people to pass on your proposition to anyone else. So not only does your marketing fall flat, but you miss out on the gold of word-of-mouth referrals, where others do your selling for you.

Some time ago, I spent some time reviewing the website of a newbie graphic designer. As I expected it was a lovely looking website and slap bang in the middle of the homepage – quite encouragingly – was a short video with our designer front and centre.

So far so good. Sadly though, the video began with the message, “We do the lot. Whatever graphic design you want, we do it” and boy did they do everything – brochures, websites, window decals, fliers, business cards…the works and for every kind of business imaginable.

What looked at the outset like a specialised, highly creative designer, quickly turned into an online print and graphics shop. And this was a designer who had asked me for help as he was getting dull briefs from cheapskate customers. And he couldn’t work out why!

As soloists, suggesting we are all things to all people is a no no. Instead we need to position as specialists and know precisely what we do and for whom, only then can we picture our ideal clients and have a hope of attracting them.

Back then to the world of dating. Imagine if in your profile you described in detail your ideal partner, imagine you use words and phrases that showed your understanding of that kind of person. Imagine if someone reading got the distinct feeling you were talking to THEM. “OMG he’s talking about me, to me!” “That’s so me! I’m absolutely like that!”

In your side hustle, this is precisely what’s possible. And it works, it really works.

 Oh, and if you want an iconic piece of design to take centre stage in your mid-century home, please check me out on Instagram @foldvintage