The environment our businesses operate in these days is truly global. The advent of the Internet has rendered borders obsolete in the digital world and slashed the cost of entry of setting up a start-up. This is a great thing, spawning a culture of entrepreneurship and generating networks of small businesses, but it does also mean that competition now comes from all sides. A customer in Dubai can just as easily shop with a Dutch business as one from Delaware. And that means that standing out from the crowd and establishing a customer base can be a tough ask. Rather than trying to be a catch-all, many small businesses are now finding that the route to success lies not in broadening their horizons, but in narrowing them – focusing their efforts on dominating a small niche market. From suppliers of specialist equipment like Central Carolina Scale to those catering for a special interest like East Asian beauty products, there is something out there that will connect with a particular group of people.
Finding Your Niche
If you’re just starting to sketch out business ideas, or you have a broad offering that you want to achieve more focus with, how do you find that niche that will work for you and drive profits? The answer lies both within your own operations and those of your direct competitors. Using the analytics of your own website and especially any internal search engine functionality may give you a clue as to what customers are searching for on your site – and whether that need is being served transactional – as confirmed with a glance at your conversion rates and inventory- or whether a high bounce rate shows that those needs are not being met. You also need to be conducting a regular competitor analysis to monitor how they are behaving, and what makes them unique and appealing to customers. By combining these two methods, it’s possible to uncover a little explored niche that you can move into.
Overcoming The Competition
Competitor analysis is not a one-off activity, but a constant process which needs to be woven into the fabric of your business operations. Newly developed products and services are cropping up all the time, and if your competition gets there first with sales or licensing it can seriously damage your profitability. Staying ahead of the game is crucial. The positioning strategy that other businesses are using to make customers into loyal brand advocates will show you what you could do.
Become An Expert
The two key values that will help get your business to where it needs to be are authority and authenticity. This is what potential customers will connect with on an emotional level, which is what makes them keep coming back and become brand loyal over and above strategies like pricing. Set your business apart as a market leader by developing a content strategy that is all about establishing your authority in the niche you’ve decided to go for. Create engaging videos, blog posts and behind the scenes photo content that will appeal to the customers you’re trying to target. Once you have relevant content it’s all about making it easy to share, creating a dialogue with your audience about it, offering easy ways to review your product and share it, working with influences in your chosen field and perhaps creating some brand ambassadors. These will all help to interest, excite and engage people with your brand. Establishing your authority in the field you specialize in will help to make you the go-to choice.
Start A Conversation
Getting involved with a niche usually has the benefit that people who are into that particular thing tend to be very knowledgeable and engaged, so you can create great conversations that give you the opportunity to showcase your product or service naturally, rather than resorting to ‘soapbox’ tactics – it’s a far superior marketing strategy. Experiment with channels to see what your audience prefers – a channel on YouTube? An e-newsletter? Posting on a dedicated forum? Producing detailed white papers? The other great thing about having a dialogue with your audience is that you gain an instant feedback loop. Use them as a focus group to develop your offer and bounce ideas off. Keep your finger on the pulse for the latest industry news, general hot topics that can be related back to your niche and subjects to discuss and comment on with authority. Before you know it, you’ll be connected to your potential customers in a really powerful way.