Whenever a big box store moves into town, conversations within the business community inevitably revolve around the need to set yourself apart.
It is relatively easy to say be unique, be different, but how do you go about doing that in a market that seems saturated with similar products or services.
The reality is that there is no magic formula that will give you an edge over the competition. However, there are some basic guidelines that can help you discover new opportunities or chart a new course for your business.
The most common strategy is for a company or individual to focus on reaching a niche market … a segment of the population whose needs cannot be met by large organizations, or for that matter your competition.
The first order of business is to take an honest look at what you are doing and compare it to the competition. Once you have done that, you can start to look for unmet needs. Remember, no organization can be all things to all people.
Having discovered what these unmet needs are, the next step is to do some research to find out if that group of people will be large enough to support what you want to offer. This means getting out there and asking questions of your current customers or making the effort to further your research by bringing up the subject with people you meet socially or through other networking opportunities.
In essence, there are three basic reasons why people are interested in purchasing a product or service. 1) It satisfies a basic need. 2) It will solve a problem. 3) It will make them feel good. There is no point in trying to sell something that is not marketable.
This segues into the next step, which is to develop a marketing strategy that will communicate what you have to offer effectively and efficiently.
Marketing to a niche group of clients or potential customers is one advantage small businesses have over the larger organizations whose strategy has to be focused on reaching as broad an audience as possible. With niche marketing, you can focus in on specific targeted media that are geared to your customers‘ interests. This will save you considerable marketing dollars, money that can be used to help build better relationships with your customers.
Niche marketing is not solely focused on price. Because you are unique, you can develop your business around catering to specific needs or providing a customized service that only you can deliver and is not available anywhere else.
If you take the time to look at how many successful companies began … even today’s new start ups … you’ll find that they all began by the founders discovering that there was a need that was not being fulfilled.
Niche marketing also enables you to have a sharper focus on your business. It allows you to position yourself as an expert in your marketplace which can help you distinguish yourself from what is already available.
Another key component of niche marketing is ensuring that you say the right things. In other words, you need to be able to speak the language of your target group. You need to know and understand what their “hot buttons” are so that you can communicate with them more effectively. It is essential that you remain consistent in your messaging from any print ads you run right through to face-to-face encounters.
Niche marketing, target marketing, market segmentation are not new terms in the world of business. They have been around for decades, but as the competition becomes more intense, the consumer more discerning, it becomes essential for businesses to be able to understand the challenges involved and embrace the principles in order to remain successful.
Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.