Sian is an online marketer, number cruncher and business coach obsessed with helping owners crack the Growth Code for their business.
You don’t need any special powers of business insight to see that now is not a great time to be in business, especially if you’re one of those sitting at the smaller end of the scale. The obvious and understandable reaction to any drought like this is to crank the marketing up to 11 at the earliest opportunity. The more people you can reach with your message, the better chance you have of at least getting a bite, right?
Over the last few months, I’ve even had a few of my own clients ask if now was the time to stray from the strategy and scale things up. I get it, of course. Money is money, and in times like these, every bite matters, regardless of whether it fits (or doesn’t) with your business or your overall plan. But what if there was a way you could speak to fewer people, make more sales and even charge more for your services? Wouldn’t that be a better way to get back on your feet?
Pandemic or not, I believe nailing down your niche can bring real value to your business and help you take it to the next level. Here’s why:
You decide the playing field.
By niching, I mean stripping back your offer to be hyper-clear and hyper-specific about what you do, who you do it for and how. I mean zooming in on the core of your core audience to carve out a piece of the market that only you (OK, perhaps not quite only you) can occupy.
Let me give you an example: Maybe you’re an accountant. Everybody needs an accountant, so in times of scarcity, your target market is everybody. Which, in effect, means you’re really speaking to nobody in exactly the same way as every other panicking accountant out there. But what if you’re an accountant who works only with startups? More specifically, startups that can’t afford to hire a finance director of their own. And maybe you even use a particular method or program to do it.
If you can’t see yourself as an accountant, let’s pick a completely random product. Maybe you make spray paint. To most of us, all spray paint is the same. So you create a difference. Perhaps by aiming your paint at craftspeople and artists or, even more specifically, graffiti and street artists. Maybe you even begin to develop colors (or color names) aimed at that market. Or come up with new products that help them get the best results from your paint.
In identifying and catering to your niche, you decide the playing field and determine who the players are.
You’ve just become a specialist.
On the one hand, you’re cutting loose swathes of potential customers. That might sound scary, but to those who are left, you’ve just increased your relevance profoundly. To them, it might even sound like you’re a specialist sent from above just to answer their particular problem (especially if they’re a startup graffiti artist).
A lot of business people resist this approach because they’re worried about leaving money on the table or being pigeonholed, or they think being niche means occupying a market that’s small to support their goals. Let’s squash those misconceptions right now.
In my experience, specialists get paid more.
Occupying a niche requires you to be really clear with the world, and more importantly with yourself, about what you offer. It also requires you to fully, totally and completely understand who your audience is and what they need. And those two little hinges can swing big doors for you.
If a client can believe you’re talking directly to them with your communications, sales page and the services you offer, choosing you is almost a no-brainer. You’ve created a meaningful connection.
Sure, the market of businesses you can connect with is smaller than before. But people will also trust and pay more for an expert who’s clearly pouring all of their knowledge into answering a specific problem. That’s the kind of thing reputations are built on. It’s also how businesses corner the market to become industry leaders.
You can (and should) cast a smaller net.
If you’re still not convinced of the need to niche, look at it another way: Say you’ve turned up the marketing and cast a wider net, and you’re still having a hard time attracting everyone (or anyone) with your offer. What are you going to do next?
Well, it would make a whole lot of sense to return to your roots and refocus on the areas where your product or service is most relevant or can deliver the most value, right? But hang on. Doesn’t that sound a little like creating a niche? It’s marketing that niche where the value really begins to become clear.
Two of the most important factors for successfully marketing any brand are memorability and consistency. Having a niche gives you far more potential to do both. It differentiates your business and leaves people in no doubt what you stand for, and it gives you a clear and single-minded message you can deliver with genuine conviction every single time. Better still, the amount of people you need to reach with your message is a whole lot smaller. So your budget goes a whole lot further — in other words, you’re doing less to do more.
Warming to the idea? Repeat after me: The riches are in the niches.