BY HEATHER TOWNSEND
When we work with our clients on marketing – and particularly helping them to put in place effective marketing, we always start with getting them to define their niche. When we saw this blog post by our good friend, Sonja Jefferson, over at valuable content, I felt it had to be reproduced here, as it spells out exactly what I am always telling our clients…
Struggling to position your company effectively and generate leads? Step back. Stick your stake in the sand and target your marketing efforts at a particular niche. This post looks at focused positioning and the benefits of ‘going niche’.
The subject of niche specialisation is a contentious one for many small consultancy companies. [as well as accountants, coaches and lawyers – Heather] The fear is that if you focus too narrowly you’ll miss out on opportunities: seeking general appeal in large markets is seen as the safer option. You see large, successful companies that are broad-based so you assume your company must be too. The truth is that most successful companies don’t start out broad.
Former chief evangelist for Apple, Guy Kawasaki describes the niche dilemma well:
“The more precisely you can describe your customers the better. Many entrepreneurs are afraid of being ‘niched’ to death and then not achieving ubiquity. However most successful companies started off targeting specific markets and grew (often unexpectedly) to great size by addressing other segments. Few started off with grandiose goals and achieved them.” Guy Kawasaki in The Art of the Start
As a small company if you fail to specialise you run the risk of trying to be everything to everybody and failing to be remembered – your messages effectively disappear between the cracks. The more precisely you can describe your customers, address their issues and deepen your knowledge the more success you’ll get.
5 solid reasons why niche specialisation makes sense
It is far easier to market a specialist proposition – marketing starts to make sense. If you commit to an area of focus you have a very specific audience to market to and clear messages to communicate. The Internet makes this more of an opportunity for you than ever. Focus you efforts on a narrow niche, build targeted content and get found.
Clients like to know that you work for people just like them and understand their specific needs. Know what your customers really want and build services, messages and content just for them. You’ll deepen your knowledge and build a pool of expertise to refer to over time.
If you want to be seen as a leader in your field you need a field to lead – what do you want to be known for?
If your proposition is specialist and clear people you are easier to refer. Specialisation means more inbound leads through referrals.
Stating your niche doesn’t mean that you won’t get work outside your niche occasionally. As Charles H. Green says:
“You’re better off giving concrete examples of what you can do; people in other niches can abstract to what they do better than they can assume capability from a set of generalities.”
To make your life easier start by identifing a target market and develop your service to be ‘remarkable’ in that niche. Anchor your pitch by telling your chosen customers how you will solve their specific problem.
I’ll leave you with this from Guy Kawasaki:
“Put one niche in your basket, hatch it, put another niche in your basket, hatch it…and soon you’ll have a whole bunch of niches that add up to market domination.”
Examples of companies who benefit from niching themselves
Their knowledge, passion and focus is compelling:
Hinge Marketing focus on branding and marketing for professional service firms: http://www.hingemarketing.com
Conscious Solutions focus on marketing for law firms: http://www.conscious.co.uk
And most niche of all: Mike Redwood is a consultant for the leather industry: http://www.mikeredwood.com
Newfangled focus on websites for ad agencies: www.newfangled.com. I highly recommend their superb article on their niche approach > read: ‘For the love of agencies’
Sonja Jefferson is a marketing consultant, project manager and business writer with a background in B2B/consultancy sales. She helps business owners to create and use valuable written content to grow their companies – from websites and web content to large bids and business books.
Sonja worked as a freelance content specialist and consultant for 10 years before setting up her company, Valuable Content in 2010. She specialises in creating powerful written content and showing them how to use this – on the web and offline too – to generate sales. Her clients tend to be consultancy and professional service companies of all varieties – including management consultancies, recruitment specialists, financial services firms, IT developers, communications consultants, trainers and advisers.