Don’t worry! I’m not going to start on about how important it is to have a niche. You already know that this is a fact; you’ve heard it a bazillion times: businesses that choose to serve a particular customer group are more successful than those that don’t…yada, yada, yada.
But, hearing and acknowledging how important it is to narrow down to a specific niche is not the same as actually, in real life, doing it. And here’s why: it’s monumentally difficult. Making that decision, and, then, that commitment, are huge stumbling blocks.
In fact, we at The Marketing Architect have been around this loop several times. We think we’ve finally nailed our niche only to realise that we have also just completed a ‘super-high-priority’ project of developing a new service that actually serves a different one. Face-palm moment. It’s hard not to try and help everyone who needs your help!
So, you know you need a niche, but how do you find yours? How do you know it’s the right one when you’ve found it? Here are three factors that you could use to evaluate if one niche will be more successful for your business than others.
1. Does this community have a meeting place?
If your community of potential customers has an offline, or online meet-up place (that doesn’t belong to a direct competitor) you can be pretty sure that you’ve got an easy access point for your ideal client. Whether this is a regular event that you could sponsor or speak at, or an online community where you can get busy commenting, posting and being generally helpful (think Postman Pat, but on Social Media), when your audience is already gathering somewhere this niche is a winner because half the work of building a tribe is already done. For example, if your niche is dog breeders, you would know it’s a good niche because there are already lots of doggy Facebook groups and annual events, with built-in marketing opportunities, such as Crufts.
2. Are they willing and able to pay for what you offer?
I’m happy to admit that I’ve cribbed this point from Russell Brunson in his Expert Secrets book, but I doubt that he was the first person to mention it. Is this group of people both ‘willing’ and ‘able’ to pay? Some people are willing to pay, but can’t finance the purchase. Other people are able to pay but unwilling to (they don’t see the value of what you provide). If your niche is based on a community that is famously hard-up you are going to have trouble selling your service. You could either change your niche or look for a way to serve this community without it having to pay for itself. Either through sponsorship, or a model where the end-user isn’t the person who pays. Video games companies do this brilliantly – their niche is mostly under-18, so they use a combination of pester power and automated payments to get parents to generously (sometimes unknowingly) foot the bill (grits teeth).
3. Do the buying preferences of this group reflect the way that you have decided to offer your service?
As you honed your offering or developed your product, no doubt you spent time deliberating the different aspects of what you provide – how it would be constructed, where it would be provided, how long your service would take, what it would cost, etc, etc. It makes sense to evaluate your niche against these elements, to ensure that your target market is one that prefers things done the way that you want to do them. For example, if you are a manicurist who prefers to provide gel nails, in people’s homes, could you target busy mums, who don’t have time to get to a salon, would prefer their service provided to them at home and want long-lasting nails? When people in your chosen customer group prefer things delivered in the way that matches your preferred style of delivery, you are onto a winner.
These three factors are a good basis against which to evaluate your own niche (or lack of it), and any potential niches in strategic terms.
If you want a more concrete guide to niche selection, look out for next week’s blog post. It’ll be a Marvellous Marketing Spotter’s Guide about a wonderful business in my local area, that serves a defined niche and is set up specifically to make this group of people happy. Sign up to receive our weekly email, The Drawing Board, and get next week’s blog delivered straight to your inbox.