What’s your ideal market niche? First, don’t try to be all things to all people. Instead, ensure you’re the right things to the right people.
What Happens When You’re All Things to All People
Many years ago, I worked full time as a freelance copywriter. The most common question I got from prospects: “Do you have experience writing __________ content?” The __________ could have been healthcare, finance, sales, retail, technology, manufacturing, the nonprofit sector, enterprise communications, or what have you.
In some cases, I had exactly the experience they were seeking. In many cases, I didn’t. Nonetheless, thanks to the power of client referrals, I ended up writing content for just about every industry imaginable. I did a bang-up job at it as well. (If that sounds cocky, I’ll wear the badge. I readily own both my strengths and my weaknesses.)
Now, at the time I was content to take on diverse content writing projects for any and all clients in every industry under the sun. Looking back, I’m sort of amazed at how entrepreneurial I was. (“Need site content, a blog, an email campaign, an e-book, or a white paper? Hire me!”) I’m also amazed at how difficult my entrepreneurial self made it to grow my business.
Time and again, I had to plead my case to companies that found me without a referral. No, I didn’t have specific expertise in their industry, I would tell them, but I’ll do a great job, I swear it! While I never lacked work (the last time I remember being bored was back when I worked at Blockbuster Video), I had to work harder than necessary to line up all of my writing gigs.
The reason is simple. I lacked a niche.
Most Companies Lack a Clear Brand Identity and Ideal Market Niche
I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years. Some I’ve worked with for a decade or more; others I’ve supported on a particular project that had a definitive beginning and end. Then the pandemic hit, and small business owners the world round lost their footing. Over the past year, more than 100 of those small businesses asked me for help.
Startups, solopreneurs, fast-growth companies, and other small businesses — that’s my wheelhouse. Small businesses with a murky brand identity and problematic (or nonexistent) marketing — that’s my niche.
So I helped these 100 businesses. First and foremost, I reviewed their brand and online presence. Again and again I discovered that they never clearly stated who they were, what they stood for, who they served, and what value they provided. I saw that they served anybody and everybody. If you were alive and kicking, you were a candidate for most of these companies’ products and services.
Companies that don’t speak to a particular audience end up losing out on opportunities (the way I used to). They also end up inadvertently building ill will with their prospective customers, who have to work far too hard to understand important information. On the flip side, companies that niche tend to speak more clearly to their target audience about who they are and why they’re different than the competition.
Together, these companies and I built focused strategies that played upon their strengths and helped them find their footing and build brand loyalty in a designated market. By targeting their marketing efforts toward their desired audience, they improved their word-of-mouth growth and greatly increased the odds that they would build a base of loyal prospects, customers, and fans.
Your Ideal Market Niche
Begin by defining your company’s brand identity. Then identify your ideal market niche:
- Pinpoint one or more markets that you serve. Ask yourself which of them brings you the most satisfaction or enjoyment.
- Home in on 1-2 possible niches where you might focus your attention and energy.
- Interview your current clients in those niches to determine their needs, desires, and pain points. (Ask them if they’ll give you 20 minutes of their time. Many will be happy to help. Bonus: You’re tapping your clients on the shoulder and keeping your business top of mind.)
- Do your market research. Who exactly is your biggest competition in this niche market?
- Evaluate internet and social media traffic around keywords related to this niche.
- Update your website, assets, and social media pages with keyword-optimized content that clarifies your brand identity and market niche. (You can use this template to create a high-converting home page.)
- Communicate the results of your interviews and research to your clients who fit into your desired niche. (Yet another bonus opportunity to tap them on the shoulder.) Make sure they understand your refreshed brand positioning as a niche specialist vs. a generalist.
- Use your researched keywords to promote your products or services to your niche market using a combination of on-page SEO, off-page SEO, social media posts, and ad buys.
Fast Wins + Zero Fluff = Game Changer
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