Hi and welcome to episode 27 of Startup Marketing. Today we’re going to be talking about why having a Niche is important. A niche is simply a narrow or specialized audience for your products or services. Having one is important because first and foremost, you can’t do everything for everyone and second, it makes it easier to describe what you do and sell.
Ok, that’s it! End of episode! Just kidding. Not quite. While that is why having a niche is important, let’s talk through some of the more nuanced and less obvious ways having a niche can help your business.
On the surface, like I said, having a niche is important because you can’t be all things to all people. I’ve said this before in my branding-focused episodes, but seriously, it’s impossible to do this. Trying to cater to all the possible wants and needs in your industry isn’t realistic, and when you try to do it, it’s going to leave you burnt out.
Take me for example. There’s a lot I could talk about within the marketing industry. From branding and strategy, which is what I focus on, to social media, to digital marketing, to graphic design, pricing, public relations, and on and on. There’s a lot I could be talking about. And even though I know a little about each of those topics, I’m an expert in branding and strategy. I get a lot of requests to help people with their social media and social media advertising. Now, I know a fair amount of social media because in my former corporate life, we did all of our social media management in house. So I know enough to create a solid social media presence, creating a content calendar and managing it. But, when it comes to social media strategy and really digging into that, I’m comfortable doing it for myself, but it’s not something I would charge clients for. Why? Because it’s simply not my area of expertise. But if I were trying to be all things to all people, I would be trying to do it and it would likely leave me burnt out and stressed because it’s just not where my strengths lie. And when it comes to social media ads, I outsource those things even for myself, so it’s really not something I would want to take on for clients. It would be easy for me to tell potential clients I could do it for them, because, in theory, I know how to do it and I’m capable and knowledgeable enough to learn what I don’t know, however, that’s not the best use of my time.
By niching down into branding and strategy, I’m eliminating the clutter for myself and for my potential clients. For me, it means there’s less to do in order to run my business. If you’re familiar with running a business, you know there’s never a shortage of things to do. When I’m focused on just a specialized niche, it allows me to be more efficient. Because I’m not trying to execute to my strengths while also learning or doing a sub par job offering social media strategy sessions.
If I’m just starting an online boutique selling women’s clothes, but I’m also bringing in kids clothes or the occasional mens clothes because I want to be more things to more people, I’m going to dilute my brand. Again, it’s going to take me more time to source clothes because I have to think about each category and it’s trends, plus track sales data on each one so I can stock properly and find items that will sell well. It’s going to take away the focus from my women’s clothes, which is what I’m passionate about and it’s going to take time away from me that I could be spending learning that niche well and improving my product offering within that niche.
In both of these examples, a few things are happening when I’m not focusing on a niche.
First, I’m diluting my brand. Because I’m not focused on a specialized area and creating messaging specifically to address the needs and concerns of that group, I’m probably missing my ideal audience. And remember, when someone is looking for a product or service, they’re looking because they have a specific challenge they need a solution for. So my ideal customer is looking for something specific and my brand either doesn’t appear in their searches or it doesn’t resonate with them because I’m trying to address too many challenges at one time. This will create some mental dissonance that will cause my ideal customer to simply pass over me for someone else that more clearly addresses their needs.
This first item dovetails into the second reason you need a niche. When you have a niche identified, you can create key messages that speak to and resonate with just your ideal audience. When you’re trying to be all things to all people, you can’t succinctly tell your ideal customer what you sell or what challenges you address.
Third, I’m eating away at my ability to be efficient. Because I have so much to do to be all things to all people, each of which likely requires a different kind of process to accomplish, I can’t create systems and processes that cut down time spent on each activity and create efficiency.
Fourth, I’m not showcasing my expertise and the stuff that will really make me stand out from my competitors. My depth of understanding in branding and marketing strategy makes me stand out from other marketing coaches who might focus just on social media strategy. And there’s less competition than if I’m just a broad “marketer”.
Fifth, when I have so many things to focus on, it means that I don’t really get to give any of them my full attention. Going back to the boutique example, if I’m really passionate about selling women’s clothing, I’m going to want the time to really dig into the analytics about how well that stuff is selling in my store, time to better understand that niche and to find trends that I can incorporate into my purchases. But, if I’ve got a mile long list of other categories I have to shop for, these things start to feel like “nice to do’s” instead of “must do’s” and I push them to the bottom of the list. In reality, these activities are the critical pieces that help me identify products that will sell better and increase my profitability. Without time to do them, I’m going to start to stagnate.
And finally, it’s just more fun. When you know your niche, you identify and relate to them. And this just makes it plain fun to serve them.
Alright, now that we know why having a niche is important, let’s talk about how you identify your niche.
The first step is really very obvious when you say it out loud: use your gut. Your ideal customer should be pretty obvious to you. For me, I like working with other women trying to start their own businesses. Because I’m using my exact marketing strategy that I teach them to build my own business. So, they’re naturally the people I want to talk to and work with because we can relate to each other and what I’m doing resonates with them, making them my ideal client.
Second step is to make sure they’re accessible. If you don’t have a way to get your product in front of your ideal customer, then you’re not going to get anywhere. So, talk to people who fit your ideal customer profile and find out where they like to hang out, where they find information about the things they purchase and determine if you’re able to reach them in those channels. It won’t matter if you solve the hardest problem your ideal customer faces. If you can’t get in front of them, you’re not going to sell anything.
The last step is to do your research. Talk to your ideal customer, learn from them. Spend time online learning what you can about them. Are there general characteristics they exhibit? Do they tend to come from one generation? Are the common beliefs that determine their purchasing decisions? This is where you’re going to want to spend a lot of your time doing old fashioned research and learning as much as you can. Look for reliable sources online that will help you answer these questions. There’s no magic website or book here that you can read to teach you about your niche. You’re going to have to take the time to get to know them. If you’re already in business, look at your sales data and identify any trends that will help you niche down and specialize.
One thing to note here though is to not get too specialized that your market is too small and you run out of customers or it’s too expensive to get to market with your product or service. This will mean little to no growth for you.
So, there you go. Having a niche is important to your brand because it makes your brand stronger and it makes it easier for you to explain what you do and what you sell. A niche will help you be more efficient and effective within your business. Do you research and get to know them.
Today, there’s no guide to getting this done. You need to take the time to do your research and understand what your niche is if you don’t have one.
If you’re still not sure and you feel like your brand is all over the place, shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about how to change that.
As always, if you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode, please rate review and subscribe to startup marketing to help other women like you find this podcast.
Until next time!