5 Lies About Niches That Everyone Thinks Are True

Truth lies

Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of misconceptions and untruths about niches.

Sometimes, it’s a question of not understanding what a niche really is.

Other times, it’s a bit of bravado.  Some of the biggest lies:

“Having a niche will kill my sales; look at all the business I’m ignoring.”

Actually, the opposite is true.  Once you specialize, you’ll become known for that specialty.  People and businesses will seek you out, because you’re now a recognized expert in that field.

You can also use that specialty to cater specifically to your chosen market.  For example, if you’re an expert on organizing, rather than trying to help everyone, focus on busy  moms.

Then adjust your schedule, and  your services accordingly, offering appointments during the early morning, when the kids are in school.

“It’s OK to combine two different businesses, like office supplies and fitness, under one website.”

Mashing two entirely different businesses together will just confuse your clients and customers.  People who want to exercise have completely different needs and wants than people who need to buy copy paper.

If  you want to run two businesses, set up two different websites.  Actually, better yet, start one, get that going, and then worry about the second one.

“We don’t need to specialize, everyone will want our product.”

This one is astonishingly persistent.  I’ve heard it from software companies, business event planners, pet food producers, you name it.  When you love what you do, or what you sell, it’s easy to think that everyone will want it.

That isn’t necessarily true though.  If that software is written in Chinese, it’s useless to people who don’t speak Chinese.  Yes, many large businesses use event planners, but most small businesses won’t.

You’ll have better luck targeting specific people, or setting your services apart in some way.  How about an event planner who understands both logistics and marketing/budgeting?  Or who specializes in exotic destinations for corporate meetings.

“I’ve got a big list of names, from several career changes, I can earn lots of money from it “

A large, random group of people who you’ve met over the course of several years isn’t a niche marketing list.  If you’ve changed careers or industries from selling accounting software to producing handcrafted guitars, not everyone on that list will necessarily be interested.

In order for a list to be profitable, they’ll need to have something in common, a need for your services (you solve their problems), and the money to pay for them.

“The more I offer, the better. I’m going to branch out.”

There’s a store near me that offers tech support services (fix your PC, troubleshooting and so on).  They also have a sign saying they buy and sell gold.  It doesn’t really make sense, does it. Those are two entirely different areas of expertise.

Figure out what your market wants, and stay with it. Only add something if it complements what you’re already doing, say PC services and Mac services.  Think about it this way, would you go to a fitness expert for brain surgery?  Or would you go find a neurosurgeon?

Is a Market Niche Enough?

Niche-StBarnard-Romans

Image via Wikipedia

What are you emphasizing in your marketing?  That you’re the best?  Or that you specialize in web sites for startups?

What are you really selling?

Someone on Marketing Profs asked how they can tell their web site visitors that they’re the only vendor on the Knot (wedding) website that is located in Arizona and specializes in lighting. The other vendors all do lots of other things, including provide DJs, flowers, and decorations.

Right track

The lighting vendor is on the right track (if you’ll pardon the pun). He’s focusing on doing one thing and doing it well. He’s obviously learned how to find a market niche.  He does lighting.  For weddings.  Period.

Wrong strategy

The strategy is a little off though. He’s emphasizing something (being the only Knot lighting vendor in his state) that doesn’t matter.

What does matter to brides is looking good on her wedding day. What if instead of talking about himself (being the only vendor), he talked about what the bride would get.

“Look like a movie star on your wedding day.”

“Look so good Angelina will be jealous.”

He’s not really selling lighting. He’s selling glamor.

Do you know what you’re really selling?  What do your clients really want?  To look like movie stars?  To save time?  To have less stress?

Not sure? Ask in the comments.

Cool tools tomorrow!

Got an Ideal Client? Who Are Your Fish?

Not real fish, though this one is a lovely example (done on a computer). In marketing, your “fish” are your people – the ideal customers you want to reach.

Don’t try to please everybody

One of the hardest lessons for many solopreneurs (and even bigger companies) to learn is to not try to please everyone, only your own school of fish.

Apple doesn’t care what “everybody” thinks. Some people love the iPad. Some don’t care. Others hate it. Apple focuses only on the first group – and it’s a big enough tribe that they sold $150,000,000 worth of iPads in one day.

They know how to find a niche market, determine what they want, and how to deliver it.

Focus only on  your “fish”

Before you can sell anything, you need to know what your own “fish” look like, what information they need, and how you can help them get it.

Are they big fish (companies)? Small fish (solopreneurs)? Are they older fish (established businesses) or newly-hatched fry (baby fish)?

Actual fish want to know what’s for dinner and where to find it…the best sources for smaller fish, or plants, or flies.

Your clients probably don’t eat flies (at least I hope not), but they will want to know how to get their book published. Or how to set up a blog. Or an ebook on how to get more web site sales. Buy a copy (before the price goes up May 1), and help contribute to the “Jodi wants an iPad fund.” :-)

Have you been able to find a market niche (or your fish)? Want some help figuring it out? Ask in the comments.

Image compliments of chefrandan

Can Your Niche Afford to Pay You?

I hear this a lot, “My target audience can’t afford to pay me.” I even fell into the trap myself. Then I realized what I was doing, smacked myself in the head, and fixed it.

An essential part of marketing is to make sure you’re looking for people who can afford to pay for your solution.

A 60″ inch sealed-burner Viking stove for $12,659 (yes, that’s a real price, I looked it up) may be the greatest cooking tool ever — but small mom and pop diners won’t be able to afford to buy one.

So, either you need a new ideal customer, or you need to change your strategy.

Create a Ladder

What’s the level of trust they’ll have with you? If they do have $12,000, can they spare it for a super-powered stove? Or, would you have better luck offering a more affordable solution?

Instead of heading straight for the top-of-the-line bells, whistles, fireworks, and party hat solution, try something small first. Products that offer repeatable solutions to recurring problems.

First Rung

Offer some free information. A blog. Free reports. A free newsletter.

Second Rung

Offer a $7 ebook. Or, a $17 workbook. Something that’s low-risk.

Third Rung

Then, create slightly higher options.

Bundle the ebook and the workbook together for $20. Or, add a how-to video for $5 more.

Fourth Rung

Then, add an hour of consulting. Or a personalized design review.

Got a ladder yourself?  How many rungs does it have?  What are they?

Image thanks to: myklroventine

Is Your Niche Big Enough?

hamsters in a wheel

You may want to sell sandals for hamsters, but that doesn’t mean anyone will want to buy them. Yes, build a tribe. Yes, focus on a narrow niche – but not so narrow that you and three other people are the only ones in it.

Do some research first

Check Google. How many results do you get for “sandals for hamsters” (with the quotes)?

Is there a newsletter? A magazine? How about blogs? Are there any other sites selling hamster footwear?

Find a good angle

If you want to focus on hamsters, maybe you need a different angle. Like hamsters 101, or hamster accessories. Or build-your-own hamster habitats.

If there are people who share your interest, they’ll be on the Internet – they’ll have forums, magazines, blogs, Facebook groups, and events.

Hamster shoes are, of course, silly. The real point is to do some research and make sure there is a market for what you want to sell (hamsters with cold feet?), that it’s big enough to support you, and that they can afford/find value in what you’re selling. $5,000 gold and diamond hamster shoes? Probably not. How about a nice plastic wheel instead?

Photo: cdrussorusso