This is a guest post by Mish Slade who is the founder of copywriting agency Mortified Cow.
(Plus free printable template included).
Remember when it actually sounded impressive to say things like “We need to think outside the box”, and “Let’s focus on our core competency”? Over time, these phrases (and plenty of others) became overused – eventually losing all meaning entirely and becoming eye-rolling clichés instead.
I think we’ve now reached a similar point with “niche it down”. In meetings, masterminds and business-related social media groups everywhere, people are sagely informing others of the need to “niche down” their business, without really thinking about what it really means or why it’s useful.
If “mums” is your niche, you don’t have a niche
Niching down is about making a specific type of person feel like you’re talking directly to them, that you understand exactly what they’re going through, and that you’re addressing their precise needs.
“Mums” are a broad bunch, I think we can agree. There are young mums, old mums, mums with babies, mums with teenagers, mums who dive into all manner of extra-curricular activities, mums who think “it’s good for children to be bored”, and so on. A working mum of an angelic-but-needy two-year-old isn’t going to feel “spoken to” or “understood” if you’re also trying to aim your marketing at a stay-at-home mum of a tantrum-throwing maniac.
You need a niche –a real niche
When you focus on a tight niche, everything becomes more straightforward:
- You can speak to a particular audience and address their specific needs.
- You don’t need to compete on price because you’ll be the obvious choice for those people.
- Marketing becomes simpler because there’s less guesswork about where your dream customer will find you (and the keywords they’ll use when searching for you).
- You’ll become so knowledgeable about your niche that these people will trust you and refer you more and more.
But how do you niche down, if you haven’t done so already? There are three main ways to go about it…
Option # 1: Focus on a specific market within your wider industry
Think “birth coaching for breech babies”, “children’s toys for families who travel”, “a meal delivery service for picky eaters”, etc.
This is probably the most effective way to niche down: as soon as a pregnant woman with a breech baby comes across your website or social media page, she’s already going to be far more interested and inclined to contact you than if you were a generic birth coach (even if you’re much more expensive).
If your business is already off the ground, you might find that you’re able to do a “niching down retrofit”– the template at the bottom of this post should help you get started.
Option # 2: Offer one or two select services within your industry, when everyone else is offering them all
For example, you could sell only nappy rash cream and no other lotions or potions.
When you provide one product/service and no others, you have the potential to become known as the authority on that product/service. To give a fairly over-the-top example, compare Kellogg’s to Tesco. Kellogg’s only makes cereal, whereas Tesco makes cereal alongside many other products. Which brand do you think of when you think “cereal”?
This isn’t to say you must remain a one-product brand forever, but it’s certainly a way to get noticed and identified as an authority in your industry when starting out. To give another example, Innocent began life as a smoothie company – and today they’re still known as the smoothie brand in the UK. But they’ve since branched out to juices and fizzy drinks (and, for a time, veg pots).
Option # 3: Have a unique, strong and potentially divisive personality
It’s important to have some sort of written personality so that people can get to know you and like your company. Some of the savviest companies take things one step further: they make their personality so strong and prominent that it acts as a “niching down” mechanism too: some people will be completely put off, but others (their dream customers) will absolutely love it and feel ecstatic to have found them.
If your business is already up and running – and it’s too difficult for you to niche down in either of the other ways – consider giving it a complete personality overhaul instead.
For inspiration, take a look at ThreeBees – a website that provides information on activities for bumps, babies and toddlers throughout the UK. This page (about a featured provider on the site) is a great example. The writing style won’t appeal to everyone, but some people will love the slightly sarcastic, dry humour of the text – especially when compared to the generic flowery language of other, similar sites.
Ready to niche down but not sure how?
Here’s a template to help you figure it out. Work your way through it, and see if it gives you any insights into how you can niche down your business further. Remember: if you can’t niche down by market or service/product type, you can still give your biz a more prominent and unique personality!
Guest post by Mish Slade who is the founder of copywriting agency Mortified Cow– which takes a decidedly different view on how businesses should promote themselves. Her latest book is called May I Have Your Attention, Please? Your Guide to Business Writing That Charms, Captivates, and Converts. Contact her via email: [email protected]