What Every Creative Ought to Know About Niches

large niche image

What is your niche market? What does it look like? Can you see a picture of it in your mind?

Is it grand and glorious, with padded couches, like the one in the photo?

Is it plainer, simpler and very narrowly focused? Or somewhere in-between?

Here’s more on what a niche is, why it’s important, and how to find one.

How to Narrow Your Marketing and Improve Your Results

Is Your Niche Too Big?

Does Your Business Have a Niche?

When is it Smarter to Have Two Web Sites?

Image thanks to: hamed

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

When is it Smarter To Have Two Web Sites?

round niche and square nicheYour web site is your introduction to your customers. Your web site should reflect your niche(s) and appeal to “your people,” (the kinds of clients you want to attract) rather than trying to appeal to everyone.

Are Multiple Niches OK?

It’s OK if you have more than one business niche, or more than one business, as long as they fit together. You can start with marketing to brides and expand to new moms. Or work with both elementary schools and law firms. Elementary schools and law firms have little in common, but it works if you’re providing the same service to both (say, IT consulting or graphic design work).

However, there are some things that just don’t belong on the same web page (or even the same web site).

Divorce Lawyer and Bait Shop?

Do not offer your services as both divorce lawyer and bait shop on the same web site.

Sauerkraut and ice cream are both great. Just don’t mix them together and expect the result to taste good.

People seeking a divorce have different problems and questions on their minds than people who want to go fishing. One needs to know about separating assets, possibly alimony or child custody. The other is interested in fishing line, rods, reels, and which bait attracts a particular kind of fish.

If you’ve got two wildly different businesses, separate them. Have one site for the bait shop, and another for the legal services. It’s not only confusing to put them together, it’s poor marketing.

Domains are cheap. You can buy one for $10. Hosting is cheap too. Try Hostgator (use this link and I get a reward).

Get an Opinion

Think  you need two sites?  Not sure?  Post your niches in the comments and find out.  I’ll answer your questions there.

Photo:swanksalot

Why Are Clients Like Fish?

unicorn fish

Fisherman know that if they want to catch any fish, they need to go to the right spot.

Marketers need to do that too. You figure out what kinds of fish (clients) you want to attract and go where they are. Right? But wait, you’re going to need one more thing.

Catch Clients With Bait

Worms, squid, and flies work for fish. Not so much for people. You’ll need the kind of bait that attracts people; specifically your preferred kind of people. Choosing the right bait can make a big difference in whether you catch a lot of fish (clients) or no fish at all.

How to Bait Your Audience

Free e-books

Put together a series of blog posts, articles, or write something completely new. Pick a topic that vexes your audience and help them through it (“How to Hire a Copywriter”, “10 Questions You Should Ask Before You Hire a Web Designer – and the Answers To Each One”).

You can either use ebooks as bait for a signup to your newsletter. Or, you can spread them virally, with no sign-up required. The first way grows your list of qualified prospects for your services or information products; the second gets more downloads and spreads faster.

Viral and How-to Videos

These can be viral videos – something that’s funny, interactive, and spreads the word about your company. Or, they can be how-to videos, showing how to create a “buy now’ button or a favicon.

Another idea would be a demonstration of your skills; reviewing someone’s Web site design and pointing out improvements that will boost conversions.

Build a community

A membership site or a community of some kind lets your clients and potential clients interact with each other. You can step in and tell them about projects you’re working on (guidance on how-to), encourage them to help each other, encourage them to connect with each other, and offer inside tips that the rest of the world doesn’t get (if the forum requires membership).

This strengthens ties to you, increases your authority and builds trust.

Teleseminars/Webinars/Podcasts

You can interview an expert, or give a series of talks. Make sure it’s informational, not a big sales pitch.

Like the ebooks, and the videos, you can use them to build your list (make sure you get permission for any further follow-ups), spread the word about your services, and establish yourself as an expert.

What other ideas can you think of? What experiences have you had with “bait”? What did you do and what results did you get?

grantsviews

What Every Marketer Can Learn from Fishermen

fishing boatThere’s an intense discussion going on in a forum I belong to, about whether you need a niche or not.

Do you? Or is it just a lot of nonsense? Why is a niche important?

Here’s why:

MORE MONEY

That’s right. More money. If you specialize you get more money.

In marketing, we call it a unique selling proposition – it’s a fancy bunch of words for whatever it is that makes you stand out (Hint: printing business cards for any small business is not a niche).

The reason that many people recommend finding a niche is that it’s much easier to market yourself that way. Trying to be all things to all people will doom you to failure.

There’s a nail salon near my home that also offers video transfer services. Would you trust your memories to a nail salon?

Think Like a Fisherman

Say you’re a fisherman and you specialize in tuna.

If you want tuna, you figure out where tuna congregate. Let’s see, tuna. Well they’re fish, so that eliminates land masses. You need water.

Now, what kind of water? Not ponds, or lakes, or rivers.

Oceans! Which part of the ocean? Cold water? Warm water? Close to shore? Far from shore? Etc.

You narrow down your target, instead of spraying and praying and hoping to hit something.

You Can’t Catch Fish with Strawberries

Then you think, OK I know where the tuna live, where’s the best spot to hang out to find them? What do they want to eat? What kind of tackle do I need to catch them? What can I do that will attract tuna to my bait?

So, You’re Not Really a Fisherman

A few more practical examples.

Say you’re a wedding planner. That’s not a niche, but what if you specialized in interfaith weddings – and the special issues that arise when different beliefs come together? You could make a name for yourself, and probably charge more money too.

Or, the Virtual Assistant for video producers. If you focus on video, you can go hang out at video industry events, read video industry magazines, and fix yourself in people’s minds as the “go to” person for the video industry. If you know who you’re talking to, and what problems they have, it’s going to be much easier to solve them.

See how it works?

What strategies do you use to attract your own “tuna”? Share them in the comments.

Photo: DeusXFlorida