Launching a new service-based business for the first time is an exciting and terrifying experience. It was for me when I began. Like me, you’ve probably been doing the work in your industry for many years and know you’re paid just a fraction of the hourly rate your boss charges out. It’s time to stick it to the man and become the boss yourself. Imagine all the money flowing directly into your bank account!
The dream of being your own boss and calling your own shots is enticing to many. Generally, we start out with a vision to sell our own expertise. After all, that’s what we know, right? We sell our service, and then eventually take on related services, seduced by the additional income. The challenge is we often start on a shoestring budget and soon find we’ll take on any client just to make ends meet.
We slowly move further and further from our core skill set, selling a range of services we are average at to people we don’t enjoy working with. While it gives us the required cash flow we need short-term, for your long-term business success and sanity, you need to become laser-focused on what you do and for whom.
The goal is to become the specialist in your field and the only logical choice in the marketplace. Sounds like an outlandish goal at first, but it’s completely achievable. How? By niching!
Niche marketing is simply focusing your efforts on a highly specified ideal client. By focusing on a niche, you can distinguish particular needs and benefits your market has and address these needs in a clear and specific way.
We are all inundated with marketing messages like never before. It’s extremely important to cut through the noise, and niche marketing can help you do just that. It allows you to be heard in a very noisy market place.
It’s also never been so easy to start a business. With the technology we now have available to us, anyone can run a business from anywhere. That’s of benefit to you when starting out. Unfortunately, it’s also giving your competitors a leg-up, meaning your industry is likely flooded with businesses just like yours.
Getting your message right both visually and conceptually is the key to niche marketing success. Stop trying to sell your product or service to everyone and start selling to someone specific, someone who is interested and will listen. That’s what niche marketing does since it is completely focused on a particular kind of person. This allows the message to be uniquely designed to reach that person.
Success within a budget
All you need these days is a computer with an Internet connection, and you can start a successful business. You can do it all on a limited budget if you are prepared to think creatively.
Small businesses cannot afford to compete with large companies with multi-million dollar marketing budgets by trying to sell to everyone. The more specific you make your niche, the less competition you’ll ultimately have. It’s a balancing act; select a niche that’s small enough to dominate, yet large enough to be highly profitable.
Large companies generally have large overheads, so small niches may not be viable for them. Yet they could be a healthy revenue stream for the small business owner. Find a niche market with a specific need and supply them with a unique solution. Almost every business that has succeeded has started out with this basic principle.
Niche marketing is also low-risk since you are not spending large amounts of money trying to reach a market already accounted for by the larger players.
What Makes Your Niche Buy?
It’s simple really! Understanding why clients buy from you will improve your bottom line. Clients want to know what’s in it for them. Finding out what your niche wants involves finding out exactly what will motivate them to buy your products or services.
People spend based on their emotions and the perceived benefits of the product or service. How does your product or service make them feel? How does not having your product or service make them feel? Emotions are the strongest motivator for any client. Our emotions make us want to buy, and the rational mind creates reasons why we should buy. It’s essential to engage your niche on an emotional level. Understanding the benefits and the emotions associated with those benefits will enable you to become relevant and gain your prospects’ interest. This information will also help you classify your target market into more closely defined niche markets.
Identifying a Niche
If you’ve already been trading for any length of time, you’ve probably evolved into a niche naturally. There are probably some commonalities in your best few clients that, when identified, can become your niche. What’s the common thread you can see in most of your best clients? There’s always an outlier, so ignore them for this process.
A niche market opportunity exists where there is a common motivation your prospects feel that causes them to be interested in your business. The first step is to find what niche market is profitable for your business but, more importantly, what you enjoy doing. Here at Uplift 360, we’ve decided to niche based on the personality type as opposed to industry- or demographic-based niching. We saw common personality traits in our best handful of clients and decided to target these types of people. It was a decision based on my personal happiness and sense of fulfilment, and it turned out to be profitable as a handy by-product of this decision.
You may want to take a more traditional approach to niching and consider whom you work with based on their profession, location, and other demographic metrics. If you target a defined niche market, you will find that you will get a more significant response than if you target a broad market.
How to Target Your Niche
Almost always, the most cost-effective place to target your niche is online. The goal is to make your website the ‘hub’ where you attract all your prospects for further information. It’s great to interact with your market through social media platforms. However, the goal should be to bring them to an environment where you have control of the messages and can limit external distractions.
Understand the emotional motivation behind your niche and clearly express how your business will solve their perceived problems. This will allow you to have a clear and direct message throughout your website and a web design that is congruent with that message. Instead of marketing broadly, be specific in your website.
Many small businesses become overwhelmed trying to identify a profitable target market or niche. They often get stuck on demographics such as income, location, gender, age, relationships, hobbies, and interests. Gathering a whole lot of data around these attributes may be of some value. However, it doesn’t really need to be so complicated. For the small business owner or entrepreneur who has a hands-on working relationship with customers, it’s as simple as reviewing your best few clients and working out what similar attributes they share. That way, you can create marketing to attract more people just like them.
Becoming a Thought Leader
As a service provider, focus your energy on becoming the thought leader in your niche. One of the best ways to do this is through content, for two reasons. First, it helps increase your exposure. Second, it positions you as an expert in your chosen niche. There are several methods you could use in reaching your niche. As you are a service provider, you should capitalise on your strength as a specialist and share the wealth of information you have through thought leadership.
Producing content can get you more than just traffic to your website. It generates targeted traffic. If you offer fresh and informative content regularly, you will be seen as the authority and expert in your niche. Like anything in business, you should plan your strategy.
What kind of content do you think will get the interest of your niche?
How can you position yourself as the authority in your niche?
What audiences can you leverage to reach your niche quickly and effectively?
While your content should focus on providing information relevant to your niche, you should also reveal some of your personality. Perhaps you could use illustrations and examples from your personal life. Humans relate to stories. Don’t forget to be yourself. After all, your clients will be buying from you as a person. You should produce content that addresses the common challenges your niche are facing and offer viable solutions.
What kind of relevant information can you blog about?
Does your niche listen to any specific podcasts you could feature on?
Are there social media groups you should interact with?
In producing content, you should show your niche that you empathise with them and you understand their problems. Service providers sometimes fear that they will provide all their most valuable content freely and have nothing more to give. In my experience, this is a common fear that is never true. The more you give and get your creative thoughts flowing, the more you grow and increase the value you can provide others. The bottom line is if you have interesting, valuable content online, you will draw in many more potential clients who make your giving worth the effort.