After people sign up for my ezine, I like to follow up with an email that asks them the biggest question that they have about starting their own business. I get hundreds of responses, and one of the most popular ones is “How do I market my business?”
There are many components of setting up an effective marketing plan, but the first step is always clearly defining your niche.
Your niche is a specific group of people that you want to sell your product or service to. You can define your niche by slicing a broad market segment into sections by looking at things like gender, age, education level, economic status, political orientation, occupation, extracurricular interests or personal histories. (there are many other things you can look at, these are just some samples)
Let’s look at an example:
Broad market segment: Men
Niche: Divorced African-American male entrepreneurs aged 50-55 who graduated Summa Cum Laude from a Top 10 College, make more than $250,000/year and live in the greater New York area.
The more specific you get with your niche, the better chance you have to reach them with your marketing efforts. And you define your niche by asking yourself the following question:
Who would I really enjoy working with that would find my product or service extremely valuable and has the means to pay for it?
I am in the middle of teaching a class with my mentor and friend Suzanne Falter-Barns called Get Known Now. Suzanne’s specialty is helping people identify their unique niche and build their brand so that they can attract media and increase their expert status.
Suzanne believes identifying your niche is not just a left-brained analytical process, it is also a right-brained creative and intuitive process. She leads new students in guided meditations to see what words, phrases or ideas come to mind when they think about the people they are meant to work with. It certainly worked for me – as a direct result of the work I did with her, the Escape from Cubicle Nation brand hit me over the head as I was walking around my house rocking my son to sleep. I got crystal clear about the kind of people I want to work with, and now feel as though I have arrived at a party filled with vibrant, smart, creative and caring people that I really enjoy hanging out with.
The benefits of defining a specific niche are many:
- You can immediately think of publications that write for this market, and target your PR efforts
- You can identify which associations might cater to this market (in my example, you could explore alumni associations of Top 10 colleges or entrepreneur associations that target African American professionals) and try to get speaking gigs
- You can identify websites or blogs that target this market and post ads or write valuable comments on blogs
- You can be very specific in your marketing materials about the type of problems your product or service addresses. And if you do it right, people will say things like “I read your website and felt like you were talking directly to me!”
Once you get clear on who you want to work with, you should do a thorough analysis of competitors in your market space. Suzanne keeps a binder with information on her top 5 competitors and buys their programs, downloads free information from their sites and sits in on teleclasses or seminars they offer. All this is to get a clear picture of the specific and unique way they are serving her market.
Once you do your competitive research, you can define your brand and Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that speaks directly to how you solve your target market’s problems.
So get going on defining your niche. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section here and request feedback if you want some input.
For those that want to get a lot more detailed information about researching market segments, does anyone have other suggestions for tools, processes, resources or experts?