Your core customers otherwise known as your target market or niche – are a specific and select group of people that your business is aimed at. Your product or service should be tailored to suit their specific wants and needs.
Every single company or brand should have a specific niche that they work with. Even if they appeal to the masses they still focus on specifically talking to a niche group.
One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make is trying to appeal to everyone. If you do this your message becomes mixed, confused, diluted and your core audience lost. You’ll become void of any personality for fear of not fitting in with all of the other groups. By speaking to your niche directly in their tone of voice, in the places they are, relating to stories they’re interested in, you’ll be able to engage with them and ultimately you’ll connect with more people and make more money for less effort.
Take Nike for instance. You could argue that sportswear and sneakers can be worn by people of all age groups whether they exercise or not. But Nike have chosen to speak to a specific niche of 20-35 year olds who are active and participate in sports and exercise, and who are predominantly city dwellers. This doesn’t mean that people outside of this niche aren’t welcome to buy their products because we know that they are and that they do. Without speaking to their niche however, Nike would not be able to develop a brand message and would not be able to define their products, or the look and feel of the brand. It would be a confused mess.
If in doubt, be a small company that acts big. Take a look at what big successful organisations you admire have done and are doing, and emulate them.
“If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no-one.” – Seth Godin, Author, Entrepreneur, Marketeer and Public Speaker
Identify your niche group/target market. These are the people you are going to talk to directly and tailor your business to specifically.
Research them. Get to know them better. Profile them.
Who are they?
Are they married?
Are they professional?
Where can you find them? Restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas, mother and baby groups?
How are those businesses getting their attention? What’s driving them through the door?
What generation are they from? What music or TV did they grow up listening to and watching?
What newspapers or magazines do they read?
Are they tech savvy?
What brands do they buy into?
What sort of lifestyle do they lead?
What are their values?
What’s important to them?
What are their attitudes to life in general?
Here are three top tips for profiling your niche
You will find a wealth of information via Google – look at popular blogs, online magazines, Facebook fan pages and community boards that are relevant to your niche, then take a look at the comments people are making and what stories are being written about. If you know the types of newspapers and magazines they read you will more than likely get a good idea of their attitudes to life and issues that concern them as the publication would have already done this research for you, and would be writing about something that is relevant and that interests their reader.
Do your own research. You could join a number of relevant Meet Up groups where you know your niche will be and start asking questions. Be honest with them about your research and I’m sure you’ll find they will be only too happy to help.
Research other successful businesses that target the same niche as you. How are they talking to their customers? Where are they talking to their customers? How are they driving sales?
Get as much information on them as you can. Your profile of them will develop as your business grows and you get to know them better.
Are you solving a problem for your niche group?
What problem are you solving for your target audience?
Why should they use your business?
Who are you helping?
How are you helping them?
Is this a real problem? How do you know?
Without identifying a real need for your product or service you may encounter difficulties in making sales, and will not have a focus for your marketing and communications.
Researching your market
Google your market/problem/business and if you find lots of sites and material on it then it’s probably safe to say there is a market out there.
This is a quick and incredibly insightful way that you can research your idea/market without wasting precious time. You’ll also be able to gauge the size of the market by how many sites you find on the subject. Check out any notice boards, blogs and YouTube video/pages relating to your idea to find out what people are saying.
What’s so different about you?
It’s useful to know who your competition is and what they’re doing as this will give you an indication of what’s happening in the market. It’s also important to know in what ways you differ from them.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your business is totally unique and has never been done before. Any idea you think of will more than likely have already been thought up or launched in some way. There are rarely any truly unique business ideas and not everyone is capable of launching a Spanx or Twitter or Facebook.
The idea is to differentiate your idea somehow from what’s already out there and to make your idea unique in that way.
How can you make your idea different without focusing on the cost?
You could start by identifying what your competitions weaknesses are and making them your strengths. Take a look at what they’re worst at and pride yourself on excelling in these areas.
What are you offering that nobody else is? The answer is YOU. How can you inject your personality to make your idea more unique? OK so your idea’s been done before but there’s only one of you so how can you tailor it to be more personal to you?
“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland
What’s your unique selling point?
Unique Selling Points make you stand out from the crowd (including but not exclusive to your competition), raises the bar to a level that only you can reach and puts you in a league of your own. It stops people in their tracks, it’s a headline story. It focuses on your customers’ wants and desires (not their needs). It hammers home your message and challenges people to meet it. It says you’re not only the best at what you do but the only one that does it. It’s a promise to your customers.
Examples of good USP’s
Less than 300 calories in every dish
We guarantee you won’t have to wait more than 15 minutes or your next appointment’s on us
Europe’s longest street market
It turns the milk chocolatey
Melts in your mouth not in your hand
A way to figure out your USP is to look at the benefits you offer.
What are the 3 biggest benefits that you offer? Ask yourself why people should buy from you? Never focus on your pricing as this is not a benefit, this is a feature. A benefit indicates how a product or service serves people and makes their lives easier. A feature is a fact about your product or service.
If you can’t find any benefits you need to create them! A business without benefits is not a business at all. A business without a unique-to-you benefit is unlikely to stand out or succeed within a demanding marketplace, so it’s vital to get this in place.
Examine your benefits to find out if your idea is unique in any way. Are your benefits genuinely beneficial to your niche?
Now choose one of your benefits and turn it into a USP. Remember, a USP needs to be a sentence or headline that will instantly draw your niche in and differentiate you from other businesses including your competitors.