How to smoothly pivot your audience without enraging anyone

People dancing, one with a dinosaur mask and one with a unicorn mask

So. You’ve decided to adjust your audience or ideal client, and you’re low-key freaking out about how it’ll go.

Will people be mad?

Will you lose followers?

Will people chant BOOOOO at you?

Will tomatoes be thrown at your face with no remorse?

Well, not if you do it gracefully!

Sit tight. I’m gonna tell you how how to tell the world about your change, transition your roster, ditch old clients if you want to, and not cry in a corner if people unsubscribe from your email list.


So why adjust your audience or ideal client, anyway? 

Lots of reasons.

People often come to me when they want to go after a higher-ticket audience. An audience who has… shall we say… ‘le cash’.

Because frankly, it’s not-so-great if you decide you want to be charging significantly more, but your audience or ideal client is, say, students, or new business owners, or retail workers.

Love ’em and wish them well, but they don’t pay the bills. 

You might also want to adjust your audience because you’re specializing for the first time or because there was just something grinding your gears with who you were serving.

There are honestly a million reasons. They’re all valid. 

So how do you do a successful audience PIIIVAAAATTTT and get that new, badass brand position up your stairs? 

1. Send your message in for a makeover

Even if you’re adjusting your audience what seems like a teeny tiny amount (for example, maybe you’re now serving 7 fig businesses instead of 6 figs), it still requires an adjustment to… well, basically, everything. 

That means scouring and tweaking all your brand’s content (starting with ground zero: your website) so it’s perfectly calibrated to your new audience.

You can do this yourself, or if you work with someone like me on a brand/web project, I do this for my clients.

You also want to consider whether the visual part of the brand still works for the new audience (for example, if it’s a higher-end audience, are they going to be impressed by your handmade aesthetic? If not, it’s time to refresh).

This can be really hard to let go of because you might have spent a lot of time and/or money creating your brand assets. I hear you.

Good news: It often doesn’t have to be thrown out completely.

But it still needs tweaking.

It’s a necessity to ensure your new audience feels like you’re speaking directly to them, transforming them into raving fans and, hopefully, clients or customers. 

Note that if you want to keep the door open to what you used to do, that’s fine too, as long as you’re 99% aligning the messaging and visuals with the new audience. 

Leaving the door open can help with the worry that you’ll suddenly lose all your income while you make this transition. 

In this case, I always suggest my clients keep a little section on their Work With Me page (after explaining their main offer) indicating that they also do other things.

This bit can be taken off once you get fully booked with your new ideal clients! 

2. Shout it from the rooftops, or don’t

Once you’ve updated everything, you can either announce it… or don’t.

This depends on how much you’re changing up.

If what you’re switching to is VERY different and you have a large, engaged audience, then I suggest making an announcement about it on social and sending an email to your list. Not doing this might end up being confusing. 

What to say? Just be positive and honest about why you’re changing things so dramatically.

Most people are understanding, and if someone gives you a hard time, don’t let that make you question yourself. Someone who’s a vocal jerk was never someone you wanted to work with anyway. Let it go… they’re not your people.

Now, if you get most of your clients through word-of-mouth and you’re only making a slight adjustment to your ideal audience (again, the example of going from a 6 fig to 7 fig audience, or you’re simply cutting out some of your services to narrow your scope), you don’t have to bother announcing.

Instead, you can do the “Quiet Pivot”.

There was a time when I adjusted my audience quite a few times in a short span and just didn’t feel like announcing it every time.

So I updated my website and other assets and pivoted future social posts to be in line with the new positioning, and that was that. No big deal.

The thing is, anyone new who comes across you after a pivot won’t have any idea about what you used to do, so that’s not going to be a problem.

What about no-longer-ideal potential clients who already knew about you? And might be wondering if you still offer a certain thing?

Well, they’ll either get the hint that you don’t (that’s fine, they weren’t ideal anyway, remember?), or they’ll just ask if you still do that.

And then, you have the option to say yes if you want to — or no, if you don’t like the cut of their jib.

Note that if you Quiet Pivot, it’s still beneficial to personally reach out to your network, old clients, and referral partners to update them on what you’re doing.

That way, you remind them you exist (always a good thing), and they can start sending you the right people.

And what about ongoing clients who no longer fit? Should you tell them? 

Depends if you want to keep working with them while you transition.

If you do, then either don’t say anything, or if the change is dramatic enough that you think they’ll be confused, just send them a quick note ASAP saying, “Hey, you might have seen me announce on social that I’m pivoting to XYZ clients, but I’m still planning to continue with you!”

And what if you DO want to ditch ongoing clients who aren’t in alignment? 

Friggin’ do it!

It gives you more time and space to get in front of your new target market and fill your roster with the clients that rock your world!

Just politely tell them you’ve decided to switch focus and that you’ll be ending things, and then don’t feel bad about it.

People switching directions happens all the time, and you have no obligation to them! 

3. Accept that you will lose followers and get unsubscribes, and it’s fine

Facts are, there’s only going to be a certain percentage of your audience that was an ideal client for your old direction and is still an ideal client for your new one. 

So it would be kind of shocking if you made this transition and not a single person decided to head on their merry way. 

It’s to be expected, and, personally, it doesn’t bother me one bit when someone unsubs from my list or unfollows. Good riddance, I say!

Because when it comes to making your business thrive, a small, engaged audience is way more important than a large, unaligned one.

Someone who stays on your list but will never buy is no asset.

Still, I know it can be demoralizing when it happens, and you start questioning everything.

But I promise you, your switcharoo was a good decision.

Stick it out, and the numbers will come back, but this time with people who are perfect for your new direction! That’s what you wanted, right?

So don’t waste a single wink worrying about that, and just focus on the good things to come! 

Want my help with your brand pivot? I got you.

Tracy Raftl

Tracy’s a small business branding expert who’s been featured in the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Creative Impact Magazine, and various podcasts. She helps entrepreneurs like you snazz their brands so they can work less, make more, and get clients that don’t suck.

Grab her free comparison guide here and learn 10 reasons she gets you better results than 99% of the brand + web designers out there.

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