Find your niche for long-term growth

I preach the principal of focusing your marketing efforts.

I believe it’s particularly vital for a small businesses to find a niche that they can own and focus their resources and attention on that niche exclusively.

Mostly people nod agreement, then ignore this advice.

There are two reasons, I think.

First, they aren’t patient enough. Understandably, they are cash poor in the beginning. We know the biggest concern of start-up businesses is cash flow. If you can help a business generate cash flow, you are considered an angel. Never mind where the customers come from or how they are acquired or how loyal they may be or how fragmented their needs may be, if they represent immediate cash they’re welcome.

So business owners try a coupon mailing. If the first one “doesn’t work” in generating immediate customer activity, they abandon it and begin listening to the radio salesperson, or the list broker with a sure-fire traffic generator. Flitting from one medium to the next, from one message to a second, from one offer to another, whatever income is produced by unfocused promotions is funneled to another medium promising better results.

Thus, prospects may never hear more than one or two messages. And according to Jay Levinson of the Guerrilla Marketing empire, it will take an average of 17 exposures to your message before prospects will consider purchasing from you.
The second reason entrepreneurs won’t focus is because they might miss some business. Their attitude is that if they do not address “the masses”,  they will leave money on the table. It’s not greed so much as fear that they may be missing a great and on-going opportunity if they narrow their focus.

If you focus upon a specific market segment, fashion your product/service, your brand and your message to meet needs in that segment, you can build a brand and a business that will thrive long-term because it “means something” to your customers and to those they will refer to you.

Selecting the market segment(s) you will serve may be tricky. There are three criteria I believe a segment must meet to be viable
1.       Is it large enough to accommodate your business?
2.       Are the members of the segment willing and able to buy what you’re selling?
3.       Can you readily identify those populating the segment?

It’s worth exploring niche marketing as a major strategy. Just be patient and never fear.

Martin Jelsema

4 thoughts on “Find your niche for long-term growth

  1. Martin, question for you – do you feel that the “small business” niche for branding is too broad a market? Especially when providing everything from logo, to website design? Sometimes it seems tough to compete w/ businesses who are even more niched, such as those who provide website design only for small business, or who only do social media for small businesses.

    I love working with small businesses, but it seems to me that that niche is becoming too broad now – there are TONS of small branding firms out there marketing their branding services to small businesses. It’s hard for me to see that as a niche anymore. I’m debating whether to go into vertical markets – especially with the way Google is moving w/ vertical search!

  2. Dom: Internet marketing gurus will tell you to start with a narrow niche, then as you build traffic and acquire your email list you can expand. It’s much like introducing brand extensions.

    You can either do that with separate web sites to keep each area separate (that’s why I also blog at Business Naming Basics exclusively about company and product naming), or expand the site as you gain “authority, backlinks and relevant content.

    In acquiring clients, most will come with what they consider a need, a logo or perhaps a tagline. when in reality they need to step back and do the strategic underpinning before proceeding. For most of these, just the suggestion of going strategic will turn them off. So if you have positioned your company in the “strategic branding” niche, or “strategic management” niche, you will be attracting a smaller group of people actually looking for “big picture” branding help.

    It’s up to you to chose the method you want to go.

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