There’s always talk that the riches are in the niches. In other words, you need to drill down to find your perfect niche. That’s cool. But then people come up with stupid niches like they serve heart centred, soulful, gurupreneurs. I too have no idea what one of those is so I’m pretty certain the person saying that’s who they market to, also has no damn idea either.
So whether you’re a business, online or bricks and mortar or a blogger, yes it’s important to know your niche, but it’s also important to not out niche yourself. So, are you ready to nail your niche?
YOUR NICHE ISN’T JUST A PERSON
Ok, so this is probably the top, number one mistake so many people make. It generally comes from quite wishy-washy, very basic marketing teachings. You are told to identify your ideal customer, your super customer. The ones who are going to love you and love whatever it is you’re selling. Create an avatar for this customer. Whereby this is correct to a certain degree, it actually doesn’t help you identify your niche. It just helps you identify a probable person that will buy from you. But that only works for certain things.
A great example here is within the coaching industry. I have started to glaze over now when I read the endless posts within groups about the type of person the said coach is labelling her ideal customer. They often just create a carbon copy of themselves, cue the bit I said about the heart centred, soulful whatever. They label themselves that way so want to help everyone else with that label. Newsflash! Every single person walking this earth is different. If you think you can pigeon hole a person into a marketing avatar, then chances are you are going to be targeting about 5 people.
Bloggers really fall foul of this one. Mummy bloggers target other Mum’s. Usually Mum’s of young kids. But there’s no longevity in that is there as unfortunately kids grow up and develop their own personalities and likes. How do you overcome that? Pop another baby out whenever a kid hits 5? There’s a shelf life for that. Or should I say, there’s the menopause to stop that.
WHO DOES YOUR BUSINESS MARKET TO?
The problem with the whole identifying your super customer and creating an ideal customer avatar is that you end up marketing to only one type of customer. You tend to stereotype your own customers. And in doing so risk alienating a whole host of other potential customers.
Many years ago when I had my own little retail empire selling pretty soaps and bath bombs and all variety of smelly gifts I learnt the lessons of being quite open to just about anyone being a potential customer. Many would think that the ideal customer for soaps, bath bombs and candles are women. And probably more appealing to younger women given women over 40 have probably been making do with Radox for years or don’t have the time for a long soak in the bath. However, whereby this was true to a certain extent, and if I’d done the ideal customer exercise at the start I probably would have said that too. But the truth was, I made a huge amount of sales to men. And men of all ages.
There were a lot of factors that affected who my customers turned out to be. Firstly, location. I had a prime spot with passing footfall. I was in a shopping center but near the main entrance at the top of an escalator. Smell. People would enter the center and go up the escalator. As they traveled up the smell would creep up on them. This gorgeous, fruity, cakey, sweet smell. By the time they got to the top of the escalator, they were intrigued as to what the smell was. Presentation. Nearly all my soaps and bath bombs looked like cupcakes. They were works of art and looked amazing. So after the smell had enticed people in, they were then hit, in full line of sight with a beautiful display. Was it cake or was it soap?
WHAT PROBLEMS DO YOU SOLVE?
For a bloke that needed to buy a gift, the temptation was too much. They couldn’t get their wallets out quick enough. But why was that?
I solved a massive problem for them.
A man enters shopping center needing to buy a gift for his wife/girlfriend/mother. This is near death con levels for many men and highly stressful. He can think of better ways to spend his Saturday afternoon. Like in the pub or at the football. As he goes up the escalator he can smell cake. He likes cake. And then he sees this display that solves all his problems. It looks good. It smells good. It’s appealing to his senses. Beautiful gift boxes filled with these smelly things he knows his woman will love. Because in his logic all women love this stuff. It’s already packaged so he doesn’t even need to worry about wrapping it. There are all different priced ones so he can pick one to suit his budget.
Within 5 minutes of entering this alien place called a shopping centre, he’s solved a massive problem he had and is quite delighted with his purchase. He’ll probably tell all his mates as well about this place. He can now spend the afternoon in the pub. Everyone’s a winner.
Rather than focusing your energies on who your ideal customer is, think more about the problems you can solve. It doesn’t matter who’s problems you are solving (for now), just focus on whatever it is you do and the problems it solves.
In that scenario, men weren’t top of my list of ideal customers. But the reality was that men were my exact target market when it came to solving their problems.
HOW DO YOU HELP?
Part of solving the problem is knowing exactly how you can help. If you are a service-based business will your prospects need a short-term solution or are they going to have to make a long-term investment? I notice this with businesses that sell courses. Online learning solves many problems for many people. It’s also a booming marketplace at the moment. More and more people are learning to do the stuff themselves. Naturally, this doesn’t help the service-based business model, unless it adapts. But, an issue I see again and again with online learning is that the seller hasn’t fitted the solution to the need.
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For example, something like Facebook adverts. They are really, really complex. They can be straightforward, but the platform itself can become overwhelming and complex if you don’t understand it. Most business owners would test the waters of Facebook adverts first, probably spend some money and get it wrong. They would then go looking for a solution. Up pops the course seller. Now at this point, the poor business owner is tearing their hair out with frustration, they want a fix now. But I increasingly see courses for sale for say $997 that are huge and will take weeks to complete. The chances of someone in an immediate position of need firstly buying that are very low. And if they do buy it, the chances of them completing it are even lower.
As the course seller, you aren’t solving the problem. You’re probably actually making the problem worse and adding to the business owners frustration. What they need in that situation is a quick, easy, simple to follow solution that won’t cost them even more money than they’ve already lost.
The solution needs to fit the problem.
NICHE FOR THE DESIRED OUTCOME
Whilst you are drilling down to come up with what your niche is, you need to make sure that your focus solely lies with the desired outcome you want to create. So, like with the example of the Facebook adverts course, the desired outcome would be that the business owner can find their answers and have their adverts up and running as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Whereby you may still create the ideal customer avatar, you need to understand their problems and how you can solve them. So where you may have thought your ideal customer was a heart centered, soulful, gurupreneur, female aged 25-45, who want to grow their online business. Ask yourself if they need the Facebook adverts course? You don’t know that because you don’t know if they have a problem with doing Facebook adverts.
Turn that example on its head. Essentially you could be helping anyone that has an issue setting up Facebook adverts. It just so happens that your personal branding gravitates you more towards females aged 25-45 who are heart centered, soulful, gurupreneurs. I still don’t know what one of those is by the way. And in turn, those that align with your message and branding will naturally gravitate to your services. But they might not if they don’t need them. Saying that you help and support heart centered, soulful, gurupreneurs in their business growth is far too generic for a niche. Because business growth isn’t really a definitive thing. Growth and success can mean different things to different people and can be achieved in many different ways. Are you growing a mailing list? Social media following? Page views? Or actual sales?
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR THEM?
Finding and nailing your niche isn’t always about identifying exactly who you can help. Often it’s about identifying what you can help anyone with that needs help with that specific thing. However, and there’s always a but. You may be persona specific if say for example your services are for pregnant women. There’s pretty much a 100% chance that your ideal customer is female. They will be within certain age parameters, i.e. there’s a pretty good chance they aren’t going to be in their 70’s. And an absolute must is that they should be pregnant. It’s kind of part of the service.
So, in examples like that, there are some criteria for an ideal customer based on who they are. However, do they need your services? So again, what can you help them with? If, for example, your services are aimed at the first time Mum’s then someone on their 5th child is no good to you. They probably don’t even need a midwife at this stage.
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM FIRST, THEN NARROW IT DOWN TO THE PERSON
But just like in my smelly soaps example, sometimes the solving of the problem alone is enough and you don’t need to narrow it down to being person specific. If I had narrowed my targets down to just females, I’d have probably lost about £3000 in sales in the two days before Christmas.
Even now I do often wonder if some of the branding I have on this website or in my imagery is quite female-led. But apparently not as I attract equal numbers of male clients as female. They both have the same problems that they need resolving. Women like the look of my branding and relate to my message. Men like the message my blogs and videos deliver and tend to not overly pay much attention to the branding. My message solves their problem. Or at least sets them off on the right path.
If you are service based though, even if you don’t need to narrow things down to being person specific, it’s perhaps worth figuring out who you don’t want to work with or the red flags you need to be watching for. You don’t want to get stuck with the client from hell.
GET CLEAR ON YOUR BUSINESS VISION
In order to be clear about your niche and nail it, you need to be clear on the vision you have for your business. This will help you define what it is you do exactly, how you package it up in the form of something people can buy from you and ultimately who that person is that’s buying it. Once you are clear on your business vision you will know the problems that you can solve. And then you’ve nailed your niche.
To help you do this I’ve created a workbook for you to download so you can get super clear on your business vision and ultimately define your niche, identify the problems that you can solve and market those solutions to your target market. Just click the button below and off you go. Good luck!
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