Creating Solid Foundations
Jackie Jarvis is the Director of Marketingco, a marketing consultancy which she created to make it easier for small businesses to get results from their marketing efforts. Her aim is to facilitate the 'thinking businesses need to do' before taking their products to market, as well as the thinking they need to do when they do. Jackie regularly speaks at networking events, runs a series of workshops, and writes articles for local business publications. She is based in Wallingford, Oxon.
- 19Deciding on your niche
- 20Getting clear about what you are selling
- 21Clarifying your unique selling proposition
- 22Creating and communicating a brand identity
- 23Developing a strap-line slogan for your business
- 24Believing in yourself
your small business
19 Deciding on your niche
What is a niche?
A niche is a specific targeted focus on a pre-selected customer group. A niche can be an area of your expertise or professionalism that you sell to a targeted customer group with a particular demographic profile. It can also be a particular angle you have given to your business that homes in on a specific target customer group with very clear problems that need solving.
Why do you need a niche?
‘The eagle that chases two rabbits catches neither’
You can dominate your portion of the market
It is better not to be a jack of all trades and master of none. Select a niche group of people who you are going to concentrate on as this will give you much more chance of domination within that specific area. You can become the known expert in that niche. It concentrates both your marketing efforts and your expertise.
People love experts
Experts are seen as people you can trust. If your relationship or marriage was going through a difficult patch and you needed some external help, wouldn’t you rather consult an expert on relationships than somebody who practised general counselling? You can feel safer with a specialist.
Don’t spread yourself too thinly
When what you sell potentially can be offered in a different way to a wide selection of people it can result in spreading yourself too thinly. Being too broad can mean that you end up having to work harder to sell yourself and your services. Once you are clear about your niche you will find it a lot easier to explain to people what you do. You will end up facing less competition and if you are good, your name will travel fast.
Selecting a niche does need a lot of thought as it will be the foundation on which your marketing plan will be built. Don’t just go with the first idea you think of. Take your time and study your market and customer research.
When you decide on that niche you need to be sure that the niche you choose is one where there is a strong demand. Not only do you need to go fishing where the fish are biting but you also need to go armed with bait to attract them. Once you have found a hungry crowd with a problem you can solve, your only challenge then is to attract them.
What makes a niche successful?
- A niche group of people with a common problem.
- A demand for a solution coupled with the ability and willingness to pay.
- A large enough number of these people to support your business.
- An easy-to-track-down target customer that you can afford to contact.
- Utilising your own personal skills and strengths. If you are good at something you will most likely enjoy it too, which will make it easier to sell.
- Having the experience working within that niche and understand the market place and the people. People like to buy from people who have seen and done it before.
- Others operating within that niche indicating a demand for it.
- Being able to offer something better, different and more appealing.
- Learning from others in the marketplace already working within that niche.
- Finding an opportunity to be an innovator. If there is a low level of competition and there is a market for your products and services, then you are onto a winner.
DECIDING ON YOUR NICHE – SPECIAL RESPONSE CHECKLIST
Get some coloured pens and a flip chart and write down your thoughts
- Your strengths and skills.
- Your best and most enjoyable customers to work with.
- Your broad area of business and expertise.
- A number of narrower areas you could work in.
- All you know about the lives and challenges of your customers.
- Identify customer groups with particular problems.
- Do your research with these groups to find out what their problems are and what they would buy.
- Select the five top problems that these groups have.
- Describe a number of potential niche groups.
- Look and see if they are easy to find. Are they part of an association, club, networking groups? Do they subscribe to particular magazines or publications?
- Decide what you could sell them that would solve their problems.
How to use your niche
Once you have your niche you can then start to promote yourself as the expert. Everything you do from now on will be focused on creating the bait that will attract more and more of your niche customers. Your aim will be to become ‘famous’ for your expertise in this niche. Get people to talk about you and recommend you to others.
20 Getting clear about what you are
What do you need to be clear about?
Having done your market and customer research and decided on your niche market, the next task is to clarify exactly what it is that you are going to be selling to this market. You will need to be clear about:
- the appropriate products and services
- the appropriate packaging of your products and services
- the appropriate pricing structure.
Why is it important?
It is vital to be clear about what it is that you are actually selling and the value you are offering. Your communication with your customers will be influenced by your own level of clarity. It is much easier to sell your products and services when you are clear what they are and how they link together. Have you ever not bought from somebody because they were too confusing or offered too much that you just felt overwhelmed. Sometimes less is more. There is a huge marketplace out there and a tremendous amount of choice. So buying from someone who is totally clear about what they have, how it can be of benefit and is able to put that information across in a straightforward manner can be a godsend.
Be careful of expanding and tailoring your services to suit every customer request that you get. Of course having the flexibility to adapt and package your services in the exact way that your customer requires adds considerable value to your offering, however there must be limit to how much you expand your portfolio of services. If you do simply say yes to every request you get you may end up with a lot of stress and a lot of extra work on your hands. If you are not careful you could end up spending all your time delivering something completely different from what you initially decided to sell. This is fine if it works for you, but not if you have deviated a long way from your core business and are out of your area of expertise.
HOW TO GET CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SELLING – SPECIAL RESPONSE CHECKLIST
- Study your market, customer and competition research.
- Focus on your list of major customer problems that need a solution.
- Remind yourself of what it is that your target customers are actually buying from you. Refer to the section in the book ‘Understanding what people buy’ (Chapter 5).
- Look at how your products and services can provide the solution.
- Make a list of the appropriate products and services you can offer.
- Circle the products and services you want to sell.
- Consider how your customers may want to buy these products and services.
- Consider ways to package your product and service to facilitate customer choice.
- Consider your prices. How do they compare with those of your competitors? Are you charging too much or too little?
- Test out some product packages and some prices with your customers.
- Listen to feedback from your customers. Notice what people repeatedly ask for or have problems with.
- Could you expand your product and service portfolio to accommodate those needs? Make sure you properly assess demand before you jump!
How to use this information
Once you are clear about exactly what you are selling you are in a position to move forward and create your unique selling proposition, your brand, your strap-line and all your marketing messages. To do this beforehand would be like closing the stable door once the horse has bolted.