Rivaling the big brands is tough in a crowded market. For every Nike or Coca-Cola, there are hundreds of other companies fighting for a place at the top. For this reason, developing a selling proposition that makes you unique (otherwise known as a unique value proposition or “UVP”) is vital for small businesses in every industry.
Embracing your niche is the key to making a name for yourself. However, with so many other businesses doing the same thing, creating a truly unique “niche” product is not as easy as it sounds.
What is a niche?
Brands create niches so they can concentrate their marketing efforts on a small but specific portion of consumers. As a strategy, niche marketing means being a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big pond.
According to the Digital Training Institute:
“Niche markets are created when a significantly large group of customers has a specific need, interest, or desire that isn’t considered ‘mainstream.’”
Why your niche is important
As a small business, it’s tough to rival the big brands. Therefore, it’s far better to focus on creating one great product rather than 10. Your chances of rivaling a huge conglomerate like Amazon (who stock everything from cleaning supplies to laptops) is slim to none. Therefore, to truly match your competitors, you need to create a product that no one else is offering – and do it well.
How to identify your niche market
Defining a niche market for your business is something you should do in the planning stages of your business. Your niche (or UVP) should be a core part of your business plan. In fact, its something most investors and lenders will emphasize – how your brand is different from those that already exist.
If you want to grow your business by catering to profitable (and available) niches, you need to identify the niches where your product belongs. Here are five steps to show you how.
Choosing your niche isn’t something you do in 10 seconds flat. It will require creative planning from every member of your team. A good place to start is brainstorming potential niches where your product could make its home. You will then need to research your niche to make sure it is profitable, and there is demand for your product.
2. Identify consumer needs
If you want your small business to succeed, you need to disrupt an established market, not create a new one. Find out what consumers are missing in your niche by running social media polls, reading complaints forums and conducting surveys. Discovering untapped demand isn’t a quick process, but it is key to finding your niche.
You can also start from the other direction by identifying population niches and asking yourself how your product could benefit them.
3. Research your market
Experts say that every niche market has a gap waiting to be filled, you just need to know how to look for it. Therefore, your next step is to research your market to understand thoroughly:
- Individual needs and desires
- Buying patterns of consumer groups
- Known niches for your industry
- Successful and unsuccessful brands in your market
Doing this will create a good baseline to start expanding your marketing tactics in your niche.
4. Tell a story
Your UVP is only part of the equation. Once you’ve established how your product or service will differ from others in your market, you need to tell people about it. Don’t be afraid to get personal. Storytelling is the key to effective brand marketing, and consumers want to see humans behind the brand that they can trust. To truly differentiate yourself from others in your market, you need to tell a compelling story that sticks.
5. Promote your brand
Creating a one-of-a-kind product is no good if your customers don’t know where to find it. Once you’ve created a distinguished product or service, you need to create a buzz to get people interested.
One low-cost strategy is to use social media and content marketing (i.e., blogging, YouTube and guest blogging) to get the word out. Engage with your audience, send freebies, ask for feedback, provide sneak peeks “behind the scenes” and get new customers onside.
Targeting your niche customers
Your business won’t survive in any niche without customers. Therefore, understanding your customers is vital if you want to stand out in your niche. To do this, you must define exactly who your ideal customer is, as accurately as possible.
- Start by creating a specific profile of your target customer: stay-at-home-mom, small business owner, photographer.
- Next, define what your ideal customer needs to accomplish with your product: will they use your product to sell, create, automate, buy, move, deliver?
- Finally, define your subject of interest in broad terms: for instance, home removal, small business marketing, cleaning products, dog walking, etc.
- Write down a sentence to describe your ideal customer incorporating all of the information you brainstormed above. Fill in details such as income range, personal tastes, ethics and values, hobbies, and so on.
Although most of your marketing efforts will be aimed at reaching your ideal customer, you also should be thinking about your wider audience. Widening the parameters will help you grow your business over the longer term, not just in the startup stages.
Now you know who your perfect customer is, you can think about who else your products and services will benefit. You may even want to adapt your offering to include new consumer groups. Just make sure you don’t stray too far from your niche.
The final word
Having a niche is crucial if you want to survive in business. The only way to truly rival the big brands is to fill a gap in the market that no one else has identified. This doesn’t mean you have to create a product no one has heard of.
Remember: as well as creating something unique, you also need to know for sure that there is a demand for it. This means performing extensive amounts of market research into your location (online or offline), your ideal customers, and the market in which you’re selling.
You can sell everyday products like household essentials, fashion items or food and drink, as long as there’s something unique about your offering. You won’t be the next McDonalds or Apple, nor should you want to be. However, by embracing your niche and staying within those confines (for the first few years at least), you can establish yourself as the next market leader.
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