In an Internet age, niche rules. Small businesses can reap large returns by thinking more narrowly, and reaching their ideal customers with a tightly targeted offering and message. Here are seven ways to dominant your niche.
1. Don’t fear niches
“Many businesses resist niche marketing because they’re afraid they’ll miss out on opportunities outside of that particular area,” says Mark Satterfield, author of The One Week Marketing Plan.
“The reality is that, by focusing your marketing on a niche, you can stand out from the competition and eliminate many of the potential objections people have to doing business with you.”
He points to a business-to-business (B2B) marketing firm that decided to focus only on companies that sell to professional tradesmen. In doing so, the marketing firm created a new category—the first B2T, or “business-to-tradesmen” agency, which separated it from the thousands of other B2B agencies.
2. Pick out your best clients
Not sure which niche to pick? Satterfield says you can identify your niche by asking yourself four questions about your current clients:
- Do you have a pattern of success with a particular kind of client?
- Is one group of clients spending more money with you?
- Is one group easier to sell to?
- Is there a group you have a natural affinity to?
Those clients are the template for the niche you should want to service. It’s equally important to weed out difficult, costly clients, according to Charles E. Gaudet II, author of The Predictable Profits Playbook: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Dominating Any Market—and Staying on Top. After all, it’s hard to dominate your niche if your time is being consumed by problem clients.
3. Articulate your value
You want customers to see the value of doing business with you rather than the price of doing business with you. That means being crystal clear about why your product or service is superior.
“Articulate how it will improve their lives or businesses, solve their problems, and give them a good return on their investment,” Gaudet says. “Then, after they purchase from you, remind them of how you’re committed to helping them achieve the best possible result.” For example: create a user manual and/or YouTube videos that demonstrate how to get the most out of what you offer.
4. Brand yourself as an expert
What’s better than becoming the obvious choice to do business with—the guru everyone thinks of when a specific issue or problem comes to mind? To develop guru status, Gaudet recommends gaining “brand awareness” as an expert by following two principles in all your communications, including eBooks, blogs, speeches, and even contributions to online forums: 1) stand out and dare to be different; and 2) focus on leaving the recipient better off from having seen your material.
Here’s one example from Gaudet's book of how the head of a mattress company dominated his niche. He had his sales team act as sleep advisors rather than mattress salespeople. He created a “sleep room” where customers can test a prospective mattress, and he produced a 28-page eBook about how to buy the right mattress.
5. Understand the customer journey
“You need to do some legwork to understand how customers become aware of your brand, how they convert, and how they come to their purchase decision,”says Chris Mycek, chief customer officer at Cadient Group, a niche digital marketing agency.
“A lot of small businesses don’t think about that. They simply open a storefront and hope someone comes in, or they put up a website with some rudimentary search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing that isn’t really designed around the specific buying behavior of their customers.”
6. Choose niche-specific keywords
Here’s an important small business SEO tip: choosing the right keywords is an important aspect in getting a potential customer’s journey to end in the right place. You need to think beyond generic keywords, and focus on your niche.
For example, keywords such as “lawyer plus location” aren’t as precise as “real estate lawyer asbestos plus location.” The latter is an example of what’s known as “long tail keywords”— terms that not a lot of people are searching for online, but which are highly targeted, so that a match with the few who are searching for those terms is more likely to result in a high quality lead.
Choosing and using keywords is the holy grail of Internet marketing, and done right, it can dramatically improve your traffic and conversions.
7. Use new technology tools to focus
New tools allow you remarkable ability to precisely target your ideal customers. Mycek points out that new technology allows you to deliver a mobile display ad down to a specific street address. “That is really valuable to a local pizza shop that wants to advertise to a specific, nearby apartment building,” he says. “But we’ve also used it to deliver advertising for a company that sells to laboratories. The important thing is you may need to develop content for a really specific audience.”
So, think niche—it’s one of the few times that being narrow-minded can really pay off.
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