You’d be amazed how many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of thinking they’ve got the whole niche ‘thing’ down, only to realise they were mistaken and have been missing one of the biggest marketing hacks going all along.
Discovering the perfect niche for your business can be a total no-brainer. It can also be next to impossible, and sometimes it can take months (or even years) to realise that you weren’t being nearly as specific enough to truly define your ‘niche’.
The trouble is the more you overthink the whole niche issue, the harder it is to pinpoint exactly which area you should be focussing on, and the more likely it is you will suffer from an indecisive paralysis. (Been there myself, not fun!)
You can get so worried about focusing on the wrong niche that you avoid it all together and hope your niche will find you instead.
Really, it’s a bit of a minefield and headache, but all the key areas of marketing that are truly, spectacularly powerful take a bit of time and effort.
Content marketing and nurture sequences, for example, are both incredibly powerful, but at first can both seem really complicated and intimidating.
So before we get stuck into figuring out exactly what a niche is, why you need one, and how to use it to explode the ROI you’re getting in your marketing, consider this:
Niches are one area of business that require experimentation to be certain you have it right.
It’s not set it stone. In fact, over the course of your business’ life your niche will evolve and change naturally even if you got it spot on first time around.
But what exactly do we mean by ‘niche’, and why are they so powerful?
Why Is It So Important To Have A Niche?
No matter the size of your business you can’t be all things to all people.
The smaller your business is (and particularly if you’re an solopreneur) the more this applies to you. Broadly speaking businesses either serve consumers (the B2C model) or other businesses (the B2B model).
For example, a high street clothing store serves consumers, while a digital marketing agency serves businesses. There can be some cross-over, for example an stationary store might cater to both businesses and consumers, but broadly speaking a small business does one or the other, not both.
You will usually need completely different resources and processes for B2C and B2B, so narrowing your focus allows you to have a single system for marketing and delivering to one or the other.
Niche marketing narrows your target market even further. Far beyond simply saying you’re targeting ‘consumers’ or ‘businesses’ it allows you to get super specific about the exact area of the consumer or business market you’re focusing on.
To use Optimise+Grow Online as an example, one arm of the business is digital marketing. However, digital marketing is an industry, not a niche.
While we have a B2B business model there are a huge range of businesses that use digital marketing. Pretty much every business out there has some form of digital marketing, or needs one.
So while digital marketing is what we do, it’s not our niche. Deciding to work with medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs narrowed the focus from ‘all businesses’ to only businesses of a certain size.
Further narrowing it to only those businesses who specifically wanted to focus on optimising and growing their businesses through SEO narrows it still further.
You can narrow the focus of your niche using a lot of different factors, such as:
- The level of service your customers need, for example, you might target people who want to learn to do what you do for themselves, or people who simply want it handled..
- The income level of your customers, for example, targeting very high end clients can turn a broad area into a very specific niche because there are far fewer people to target if you’re only targeting people who are both interested in that area, and in the 1%).
- Gender, for example, you might target pregnant women.
- Age, for example, you might target pregnant women over the age of 40.
In this sense, your niche has quite a bit of crossover with your ideal client, but generally speaking it’s a good idea to identify your niche, and then move on to looking at the specifics of your ideal client, which can narrow it down still further.
There may be no practical reason you can’t target all genders, or all age groups, so your niche may not be age or gender specific. However, you may personally prefer to work with one gender over the other, or find it uncomfortable advising people who are a lot older than you, and so choose to limit your ideal client to people who are your own age or younger.
Once you know the broad shape of your niche and your ideal client, you will usually find you can narrow your niche down still further, getting super-specific and, as a result, creating an even more powerful marketing strategy.
The key to discovering your niche is to realise that it’s not something you actually ‘discover’, in the sense that you might discover an amazing new restaurant when you’re lost one evening and starving.
A niche should be very carefully constructed based on your skills, your business goals and dreams, and various other factors.
To help you out I’ve created a FREE Discover Your Niche Worksheet, download it now and work through it as you read the rest of this blog post – it will help you get your ideas down and define the best niche for you and your business.
Identify Your Passions And Zone Of Genius
When you’re looking to define your niche perhaps the most important thing to consider is what you truly love, and what you’re genuinely good at.
What are you passions?
What’s your zone of genius?
How do you do things differently?
What are your quirks?
We all have a zone of genius, I’ve discussed the concept in a little more detail in my post on delegating and creating a dream team, but simply but it refers to the thing or things you’re exceptionally good at. That you can do far better than most (if not all) people, or do in a completely different way that is simply unavailable from other people.
It’s really important to focus your niche on your zone of genius, because business is a tough gig so make it a little easier on yourself, and get better results from your marketing at the same time!
You’re going to run into roadblocks.
There are going to be times when it all feels too much, too hard, and you really want to pack it in and give up.
If your business is built on anything other than the thing (or things) you are most passionate about, most enthusiastic about, and truly good at, throwing in the towel is far too easy.
When you’re spending all your energy trying to build something that lets you do what you love most, all day, every day, you’ll find it a lot easier to maintain your motivation, momentum, creativity and capabilities.
How do you like to spend your time off?
What do you really look forward to doing when you have to do something different?
This may be the obvious things you really wish you were doing rather than working, but a better barometer is the thing you really wish you were doing when you’re already doing something you enjoy, like hanging out with friends.
What are your favourite magazines, blogs, YouTube channels and book genres?
This can tell you the topic (or topics) that you happily devour and always want to learn more about. Tailoring your niche to these things will make it a lot easier for your to maintain business development and growth, because you’re working in an area you’d want to learn more about, even if it wasn’t work.
Which organisations, clubs, or social groups do you belong to? What’s their core focus?
This may not necessarily tell you the area your niche is in, but it can help you get super-specific about it. For example, if you’re really into eco-friendly clubs or animal rights organisations, that may be a slant you can put on your niche to really define it and help you stand out.
Even when they’re not directly relevant to your work, the things you truly care about will help you hone your niche to something really unique and special.
All of these prompts are included in the Discover Your Niche Worksheet. Get it here.
Get Super Focused
Now you have a broad idea of your niche, it’s time to get super focused on exactly how it will work as a business niche.
What are you currently selling, and how does that inform the area you’ve identified as your zone of genius?
Are you working to your strengths and passions?
If not, how can you tweak what you’re offering so you are, and if you already are, how can your paid offers inform your zone of genius and make it even more specific?
The two most important things to remember at this stage are:
- You can’t be everything to everyone.
- Less is more – the less broad your niche is, the more powerful it becomes.
Take another look at the area you’ve identified as your zone of genius, and consider the specific skills involved at which you excel.
Make a list of your greatest achievements, the things you’re most proud of (both personally and professionally), and consider the BIG lessons you’ve learned in life.
Consider all that information together and look for patterns and trends in your approach to these things, the style you used when approaching them, and the manner in which you problem-solve.
Figure Out What Problems You Solve
That last point about problem-solving is crucial.
What problems do you (or will you) solve for your clients?
Businesses run on their ability to solve problems, to provide effective, enjoyable and/or meaningful solutions to the issues people face in life. These may be personal or professional, large or small, complex or incredibly simply.
It doesn’t matter what the problem is, or how you solve it; the important thing is to be as specific as possible about:
- exactly what problem you can fix,
- precisely how you solve it, and
- why you’re more capable of resolving the issue than anyone else in your field.
If you’re struggling to figure this part out, don’t worry. It’s not unusual for us to find it difficult to quantify the problems we fix, because they are usually things we learned for fix for ourselves so long ago we’ve stopped thinking of them as ‘problems’.
As long as you’ve honed in on your zone of genius the things you’re considering at this stage are second nature to you. They’re problems you’ve either never experienced, or they’re issues you faced once and, out of necessity, found the perfect solution.
You’ve since fine-tuned that solution and used it so many times for yourself and everyone else, you’ve pretty much forgotten how tough it was to have the problem in the first place.
As a result, you may struggle to see this awesome thing you do as the incredibly valuable offering it truly is.
So don’t rely on your own brain-power for these one, get some outside help:
- Talk to your existing clients and your target market and have some idea-spinning sessions. Speak to people one-to-one as much as possible and develop a really clear idea of their problems. Ask them, quite literally, ‘What’s your biggest challenge right now?’
- Get on Quora and Reddit and look for forums that relate to the area you’re considering for you niche. Take the time to scroll through discussions and take note of the themes, questions, and issues that repeatedly pop up. Specifically, look for things that make you immediately reach for the keyboard to answer, or perhaps even pull a face and think, ‘How do you not know that?’
Remember there is such a thing as ‘the burden of knowledge’ which easily makes us assume that everyone knows the things we know best. It can make it very difficult to remember that, for some people, that information is strange, foreign, confusing, and valuable!
Check Out Your Competition
When we hear the word ‘competition’ we tend to wince. There’s a natural impulse to look for a niche with little or no competition, because that way you’re the only person doing what you do, the only person offering what you have.
The problem is that there really isn’t any such thing as a ‘new niche’.
If it’s a thing, someone is already doing it. Usually several someones.
So if there’s little or no competition in the niche you’ve identified, it’s a fairly good indicator that this isn’t a profitable niche. You may still want to pursue it as a hobby or interest, but you’re not likely to make a lot of money doing it, so as a business model it’s not the best plan (there are exceptions, but generally speaking this holds true).
Do a complete analysis of the competition you will face in your niche. Check out what they’re doing, how well they’re succeeding at it, and whether they have turned it into a profitable business model.
Remember the wonderful truth about digital marketing: there’s plenty to go around.
Even if there is a competitor that dominates your niche it doesn’t mean you can’t compete, or that you can’t build an incredibly successful business even if you never get close to their level.
We’re easily tricked into feeling clients and profit are scarcities, that the more successful other people are at doing something, and the more people are doing it, the less there is to go around.
This simply isn’t true.
Your competitor research is, however, essential to helping you define yourself and your brand within your niche. Yes, there are other people doing this thing, but you’re going to do it differently. You’re going to put your own personal spin on it using all the wonderful information you’ve accumulated here.
That’s how you stand out!
Here are the three big things your competition are probably doing, and how you can distinguish yourself by focusing on them and doing a better job:
- Poor quality content – perhaps the easiest way to outpace any competition in the digital sphere is to simply make your content – and particularly your free content – better than everyone else’s. The higher quality you can achieve in your content, the more your business will come to be associated with quality and thought-leadership in your niche.
- Lack of authenticity or transparency – a lot of online businesses and entrepreneurs struggle to build a brand that is truly authentic and completely transparent. There are many reasons for this, and many of them are in no way nefarious, but it’s another golden opportunity to stand out, even in a crowded market. Be the brand that’s totally authentic, that is upfront and honest about everything, that tells it like it is even if you’d rather not say it. This will work particularly well if your competition are very big, faceless corporations.
Test Your Niche
By now you should have a really good idea of what your niche looks like.
Don’t just take it on faith – test it!
The simplest way to do this is to develop topical content, a new paid offer, an eCourse or product then drive traffic to your page using content and/or paid advertising by promoting it to your niche.
You don’t even need to have the offer ready to go, just the idea and a sales page for it. Then give people the option of signing up to be the first to hear, or possibly even pre-ordering/pre-booking.
The conversion rate you can achieve here will tell you a lot.
Spend some time tweaking what you’re doing to get the best conversion rate you can (a low conversion rate isn’t necessarily a sign of a bad niche, it may simply be there’s something a little off in your targeting or system).
If you have a lot of people signing up for more information or even buying in advance, you’re onto a winner!
Beyond that you can simple speak to your target market and ask them if they’d be interested in what you’re thinking of offering.
Using Your Niche To Explode Your Marketing ROI
This is where the magic happens.
Once you’ve clearly defined your niche, and brought your business, brand, and offers into alignment with it, you have at your disposal a phenomenally powerful marketing tool that will explode the return you get on the investments you make in digital marketing.
One of the first things I do when a new client come to me for marketing or advertising advice is to put myself in the shoes of their ideal client, and consider the specific parameters of their niche.
I pinpoint exactly where these ideal clients are in their journey, and how the product or service I am looking at promoting will solve their problems. I consider their desired outcomes and exactly what this offer can do to get them where they want to be.
To create an effective marketing strategy I need to know specifics.
The more information I have about a client’s niche and their ideal clients, the more effectively I can target their campaign, and the better results I can achieve.
Discovering your niche and clearly defining your ideal client are the key to any effective marketing campaign, because they give you the parameters needed to get seriously specific about your target audience.
For extra help discovering your niche be sure to download and work through my FREE worksheet or book in a consultation with me to work out your niche specifics and how to best target them online.