It can be really hard to define your niche, but if you run a small business it’s a step that has to be taken. It’s a competitive world and whatever your business (coach, consultant, photographer, solicitor) there are lots of people out there doing the same thing as you. As a small business, trying to be all things to all people isn’t going to work. You spread yourself too thinly and simply end up seeming rather bland. Just think of all the mid market retail brands that have gone bump trying to appeal to everyone. (Bhs anyone?)
Defining a very specific niche in your market and serving it better than anyone else is a classic marketing strategy. It has a number of advantages. As you work more within that niche you get more experience in it, potentially getting technically better. You develop a reputation for expertise and excellent service in your niche, and potential clients seek you out, which is a great way to run any business. As a recognised expert, you have the opportunity to set premium prices. And customers who feel that their needs are being met fully can prove to be loyal, even advocating for your business to friends or colleagues.
To be able to communicate your niche clearly, throughout your social media channels, on your website, your print and in person you need to know in detail why and how you are different. If you are struggling with this process, one way to help you to define your niche is to find someone in your space who technically does the same thing as you but is very different. You can then really explore what makes them different.
Think first about their service offer. Are they a studio portrait photographer and you take press and pr shots? Do they specialise in weddings, while you do families? Is their legal niche conveyancing and yours family law? Are they a business coach and you are a life coach?
Then think about customers. Do they coach a particular type of person? How is your ideal customer different? Don’t just define obvious things like age or gender. Think about lifestyle factors or life stages. Perhaps they work best with senior executives whereas you focus on start up entrepreneurs. Maybe your niche is personality based? Does your photography business specialise in making shy clients look amazing?
Think too about method of delivery. Many solicitors expect clients to visit them but maybe you do home visits. Perhaps your niche is people who are too busy or who are physically unable to visit your office. Coaches can work face to face or via online or phone coaching. Which is your preferred method and why is that?
If you are a b2b business, think about how you define the business sector you serve. “Small business” is not a precisely defined enough sector. Do you have a geographical niche, or can you narrow down to a particular sector – or both?
In writing this I was thinking about my own niche. There are a lot of marketing consultants too! We are all different, some of us specialise in a particular skill or technology (social media advertising, SEO or copywriting) and some are experts in a sector.
So what is my niche? Small organisations with a mission to make a difference. Organisations who have done bits and pieces of marketing before but need regular communication with their customers, residents or tenants and want an all rounder to throw it all at. Clients and brands who are introverted, a little shy or modest and need coaxing to tell their story.
And what helped me define my niche? An hour with a fabulous marketing consultant who approaches her clients very differently. So if you need a provocative campaign which will stop you in your tracks and sharply divide opinion, call me and I’ll give you her number!