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A Common Sense Approach to Defining Your Marketing Niche

Copyright (c) 2007-2021

A question from a reader, who wrote:

"The question I have is how do I turn the qualities of my ideal client into the specific niche or type of client/business that I work with? I tell people that I work with small business owners and entrepreneurs and I find that is so very general. I know I need more specifics."

--JoAnne, Virtual Assistant

JoAnne's question brings up a common issue faced by small business owners--most of us, when asked, can describe the clients and customers we most enjoy working with--but how do we go from "Jane, my favorite customer" to a profile that helps us:

  • Explain to customers and referral sources who we best serve (this is a perfect referral"),

  • choose and refine the products and services we offer,
  • create a compelling marketing message that attracts attention,
  • show up where our best prospects are most likely to be?

    Traditional marketing practice involves going through exercises such as defining your marketing niche using demographics (age, gender, geography), psychographics (attitudes, interests, values), products used, and media watched.

    But for most small business owners, this approach is cumbersome, time-consuming, and frankly, not really necessary.

    Here's my simple, common sense approach to coming up with a solid, actionable niche definition. Just three steps:

    STEP #1: IDENTIFY THE PROBLEMS YOU LIKE TO SOLVE

    As a small business owner, you get the cold, hard cash because your products and services help your customers manage or eliminate problems. Your niche market is comprised of individuals and organizations whose problems:

  • You excel at solving
  • You find fun to solve

    For example, the term, "virtual assistant" suggests someone who handles "administrative" problems. But what exactly are "administrative" problems? In my experience, administrative issues cover a wide range of problems including:

  • Clients who are hopelessly overbooked making them miss/forget appointments
  • Clients who are so busy with the details that they never seem to have time to work on "bigger picture" business issues

  • Clients who never get around to following up with customers, saying thank you, and similar small but important activities that strengthen customer relationships

  • Clients who are drowning in paperwork (for example, healthcare providers who spend more time completing insurance claim forms than actually working with patients)

  • And so on...

    Now let's say JoAnne's proudest accomplishments to date have been the following:

  • One of her clients is a management consultant who is frequently doing workshops and training sessions. JoAnne helped this client set up a system to record the most popular workshops and make the recordings available on the client's website.

  • She developed three email templates for another client so that his customer mailings were more inviting and easier to read. Because more customers were reading the emails and acting on offers, JoAnne's client enjoyed a significant upturn in repeat business.

    Every business owner has a unique set of accomplishments. Another virtual assistant's proudest accomplishment might be his ability to quickly spot and correct misspelled words, grammatical errors, and style inconsistencies. And there are other virtual assistants who love nothing more than to divide and conquer a mountain of paperwork.

    STEP #2: FOCUS IN ON PROFESSIONS/INDUSTRIES

    Once you get some clarity around the problems you excel at solving, you want to narrow in on the one or two professions whose members are likely to have the problems that you are so good at solving.

    Continuing the example, JoAnne has learned that professionals who make their living as experts in their fields are good prospect for her because:

  • They are interested in turning their expertise into products that will provide passive revenue. By sharing their expertise through recordings, books, articles, and similar products, they earn revenue that supplements fee-based projects.

  • The success of their products depends on the customer's ability to use and apply the ideas and information. Clear, easy to read emails and web pages go a long way towards improving product usability.

    Professions where JoAnne can find these experts include Management Consultants, Professional Coaches, Educators, and Professional Speakers just to name a few.

    STEP #3: TA-DAH! PUT IT TOGETHER AND YOU HAVE A NICHE DEFINITION

    If JoAnne combines the problems she enjoys solve with the professions most likely to value what she offers she will get something like this:

    I work with

    "Expert consultants who are interested in creating revenue sources that supplement their fee-based work but are too busy to create those products and services."

    LAST WORD: USE YOUR BEST GUESS AND EXPECT YOUR NICHE DEFINITION TO EVOLVE

    One of the biggest errors I see small businesses make is the reluctance to define a niche because they're worried about missing potential revenue from prospects outside their niche.

    Big, big mistake.

    Inevitably, these owners are run ragged trying to be something to everyone. They never develop areas of greatness that allow them to stand out from their competitors and become more profitable.

    I encourage you to use these strategies to select one or two niches that come closest to "ideal," develop marketing to attract customers from these niches and use your experience working with these clients to refine your niche description.


    About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
    Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost, effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing activities, and five-star strategic alliances. To download a free copy of the workbook, "Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers Crazy!" go to http://www.judymurdoch.com/workbook.htm
    You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or judy@judymurdoch.com

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