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?

How to Fix Your USP and Why a Niche Isn’t Enough

market niche and USP

Image via Wikipedia

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

What, if anything, makes you stand out?  Do you have a USP (unique selling proposition)?

A niche means you concentrate on one particular sector or demographic (pregnant women, or SEO web copywriters).

A USP means two things. First, it’s something you do that fits a specific need your customers have.  Second, it stands out in your customers’ (and prospects) minds as unique and special.

If you don’t  have a USP, you’ll need to create one.

How a market niche USP works

Insomnia Cookies in NY promises fresh, hot cookies delivered to your door in the middle of the night (just the thing for college students and night owls with the late night munchies).

There are dozens of laundromats here, but there’s one near me that’s open 24/7 (so I guess you do your laundry and then order some cookies to eat while you wait).

Both of those places have unique selling propositions; and the laundromat has managed to find one in a really crowded marketplace.  They’re not just selling clean clothes, they are selling convenience.

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 unique market niche.  He does lighting.  For weddings.  Period. Not concerts, not conferences, just weddings.

Wrong USP

The USP needs to be fixed. He’s emphasizing something (being the only Knot lighting vendor in his state) that doesn’t matter to his clients. They aren’t going to care that he is the only vendor who does nothing but lighting unless he gives them a specific reason that his single focus makes him a better choice.

What does matter to a bride 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. What if he emphasized that instead? He’d have something that the other wedding vendors couldn’t duplicate (because they are trying to do too many other things besides lighting).

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?

How do you give that to them? And how do you do it in a way that makes you stand out from the competition?

Not sure? Ask in the comments.

Cool tools tomorrow!

How to Find Your Ideal Client by Going Fishing

Is your marketing going fishing?  Not real fish, though this one is a lovely example (done on a computer).

I mean fishing for ideal clients.  It turns out that marketing, and finding your ideal customers, has quite a lot in common with fishing.

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 ideal client “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)? Knowing this will tell you more about how to reach them, who to talk to, and how much they can afford to spend on your products or services.  For example, bigger companies have more resources, but are also likely to be more bureaucratic.

Where are they?

Where do they swim?  In lakes? Or the ocean? Or are they in rivers?  Apply this same principle to the clients you want to reach. Where are they? Locally? Nationally? Internationally?

What meetings or industry events do they regularly attend?  What industry magazines do they read?

This also applies, by the way, to their online presence. Which social networks do they use (if any)? What forums are they active in?  What industry sites to they comment on? Or do they own one, where you can comment?

What do they want?

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 contract employees’ tax files processed. Or how to set up a blog. Or an ebook on how to get more web site sales.

Have you been able to find a market niche (or your fish)? Want some help figuring it out? Try this free ideal client profile worksheet (just download it, no obligation).

Image compliments of chefrandan

Is Your Business Niche Big Enough?

hamsters in a wheel

Is your niche big enough?

Sometimes businesses make the mistake of thinking too big (trying to sell too many things to too many different types of businesses and people).

However, you can also make the mistake of thinking too small. 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. If you do, your business won’t have enough customers or prospects to survive very long.

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

Secrets of Successful Niche Marketing

I’ve been writing quite a few posts about niches, and important it is to concentrate your focus (rather than scattering your efforts and your money). Here are some of the best posts, gathered all in one place.

Is Your Marketing Missing Its Target?

How to Find Your Ideal Client

How to Pull Your Marketing Out of the Mud

Earn More Money Marketing to Fewer People

Can You Have More Than One Niche Market?

Image Tyler Bell