A niche is a focused, targetable part of the market. You are a specialist providing a product or service that focuses on specific client group’s needs, which cannot or are not addressed in such detail by mainstream providers.
However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between your niche and your target market:
Your niche is the service you specialise in offering to your target market.
Finding a niche means coning down the focus of your business so you are targeting a smaller subset of a group, and you understand and serve the needs of that group so extremely well, they can become passionate fans of your company.
Mastering a niche makes you special. The soap maker who makes soap that is gentle on sensitive skin will stand out from other, more generalized soap makers. Their soaps might not appeal to everyone, but when a customer with sensitive skin discovers that her soaps are soothing and healing, she will have a committed customer who will come back for more and recommend her to anyone she knows who also has sensitive skin.
Finding that Baker and Cake Maker who specialises in Gluten Free or Nut free or more specialised creations that allow those with nut, gluten or other food allergies and intolerances eat cakes, breads or sweets – can make them stand out from the rest who do not.
So they both know their target markets but have found Niches within those target markets that makes them special and because they have a passion for that specialism and what makes it so specifically special – it is this that will set them out from the rest.
Find your arena, your niche, your specialism that makes you stand out – that makes you and what you do so much more special that the rest and then focus on this – this is what you market and begin to look at where and how you market within that niche arena.
Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin, and say that ‘everybody’ is your potential client niche marketing, this will help you to focus on a specific group of people, and what their specific needs and wants are.
Especially as a sole trader you won’t be able to serve everybody, so it is important to focus on what you do best and for a group of people who will buy what you create.
You will soon find out what is important to them, what magazines or blogs they read, how they talk and dress, who the main people in that network are. You can develop products or services specifically for this group, based on your increasingly thorough knowledge and understanding of what they are interested in. You will know what they want – and can respond to that – thats the key to staying on top of knowing your niche, knowing your client base.
Having a scatter gun approach is spreading yourself too thin – not everyone will want your product but as soon as you stop spreading yourself so thinly you will find people start to know people who would buy what you make – not everyone is your potential customer or client.
As the pool of people you are looking at is smaller, it will be easier to identify potential clients and partners to work with as you can be more targeted with your marketing efforts.
It will be easier for others to understand ‘what you do’ and ‘for whom’, which will make you an expert in a certain field. As this group is more targeted and smaller you will be quicker well known within this group of people. Your visibility and profile will increase within this group, and it turns out we live in ‘a small world’!
Word of mouth is huge and can be one of the biggest positives for you or any business – once people start telling others about how good your items are, their quality and what it solved for them – the power of positive feedback and referrals from this is so important.
As it is easier for others to understand what you do and for whom, it becomes easier to refer more and better clients to you, as you have build up of trust and you get more visibility and credibility, and it is clear what you specialise in. And as you get better known and get more and more associated with quality and speciality, then you can begin to look at using this to leverage your prices to reflect that. Then you can start raising prices to reflect what you are offering both as a specialist service and product within that service. This is when you start to grow your business – and thats another exciting step and progression – or if you want only to remain small but very unique, very specialised – where you can leverage even more in your prices to reflect exclusivity and the rise of the designer handmade one offs etc.
There will be less competition, as you provide specific services or create specific products for specific people, in a specific way. The BIG advantage of that is that it can’t be easily replicated!
Niche marketing will really help with your marketing, positioning and branding as you will attract the ‘right people’ easier. People with similar interests behave and are attracted to similar things. And also a lot of your clients will do the hard work for you as they will refer you, and your profile and credibility is easier known within your tribe.
You can also identify specific potential clients easier, especially if your clients are other businesses, such as galleries, retailers, or freelancers. You can identify them by name (unlike most consumers) which will make the communication from the start more personal and unique, instead of mass marketing or advertising.
For instance, if you market your creations in shops, market stalls or boutiques – where you market your handmade creations will also make a difference (will discuss in another blog).
You align yourself with where and who you want to be associated with, that in turn allows your niche market customers to find you quicker, easier and wanting to purchase from you as its specially linked to what they are wanting.
Example, candle maker or soap maker or sweet / chocolate maker – you have diversified into the wedding market – so you link your handmade speciality makes within that niche area. Your packaging and marketing of what you are creating focuses on what it can be used for in the wedding package arena. Favours, gifts for wedding party, bridesmaids, best man, grooms men gifts – mother of the bride, and so on. Centre pieces on the tables personalised for them – You niche it down and tell them why what you offer is perfect for their day and what it will add to their big day in value (not monetary value) but make it more special and luxurious for them to have for guests etc. ie a scent that is specific to them or a design that is so personal to them. You do not offer this at a Handmade Craft Fair as you will probably find Brides to be are not looking there for those specific requirements for their big day.
You attend or you link or partner with other businesses whose target market is the Wedding planners or Brides etc and then niche within that target market with your specific specialism and how you can make their day even more special with your creations factoring in the day.
As you can provide an increasingly better service or product, based on your client’s needs, the chance is that you will get more repeat business – people will come back for more, and often will start spending more with you as the relationship grows.
This is were you bring more and more success – repeat business or referrals from your business from previous clients/customers telling others how you made them feel or met their specific need, resolved their problem and so forth. You build up your brand, your name, you build up you.
I particularly loved this when read it
Niche marketing really comes down to this:
Who would you rather be: A small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond?
In the first 3 years or so of any business startup it is indeed very hard to identify what your particular strengths or best markets are, where there is a profitable market for your product or what your clients really need (they often say something else than what is really on their mind!).
Also, you need some really practical experience, because sometimes you need to find out the hard way what works and doesn’t work for you, and your clients.
Niche marketing, developing your understanding of your market and improving your skills, passions and network is an ongoing process!
Niche marketing is not a fixed approach, so stay flexible for opportunities and listen to client feedback, and then fine tune to discover more and more about what you are passionate about and the best at.
Niche marketing is really about ENERGY. Especially as a small business owner you can’t be everything to all people, and there are only 24 hours in the day.
I found this out to my cost – time you can not get it back when gone – I now only want to focus on my target market and within that a very tight niche of who I am specifically wanting to work with – this has allowed me to focus on where, what and how I market now my handmade creations – and it is this that is starting to show in a big way profit wise for me as a Handmade, Handcrafted business.
Over the years I have wasted so much time and energy, chasing what I thought or where I thought I could make money from my hand made items and products – its been short lived and very crowded and I end up feeling disheartened and not as passionate about what I have made – now I adore the niche I am in and honing this down even more so within more online marketing in the near future as well.
Niche marketing will help you to focus on two things:
Where and with whom do I want to spend my energy?
Where and from whom do I get my energy?
Get back to focusing on who and where and what your target market is and if you can supply a Niche within that target market to specialise in – you are handmade, unique and not mass made in a factory some where – so start thinking about that.
Handmade is not cheap, not mass produced and not put together on a conveyor belt – but if you do not value your products, your service, your talents and crafting ability or creativity – how will you expect to put that across to those who might be interested in your business.