First things first – what do I mean by the term niche marketing? Our friends at Wikipedia say that niche marketing is “the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact.” BusinessDictionary.com has a great take on this: “As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond.”
I’ve had execs from B2B companies complain that they just aren’t getting any traction in their market. They are faced with larger competitors that have a lot more people and dollars to devote to marketing and sales. Often, the problem is not just the competition but also the fact that their internal resources are spread across too many product lines, too many industries, too many messages, and so forth. Unless you have more money and time than you know what to do with, you are probably best off to heed the words of those who proclaim: “The riches are in the niches”.
Here are five benefits of being a marketing specialist instead of generalist:
- It is much easier to showcase your expertise if you focus on specific niches. Niche marketers need to work hard to stay on top of their games instead of belting out generic platitudes.
- As a specialist, you have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and show empathy and understanding for your target prospects.
- You can charge higher prices and achieve better margins. There is a premium to be gained when you have a specialized solution.
- More brand loyalty. Customers love companies who specialize in fulfilling their unique requirements and will reward such firms with allegiance and high margin revenue.
- Greater levels of expertise. The more you focus on your niche, the more your expertise (real and perceived) will blossom.
The potential disadvantage to B2B niche marketing is that by defining precisely what you are, you are also defining what you are not (everything else). This can limit your ability to scale your market presence or force you to undertake an expensive rebranding program. Better to figure this out early. And if you organize your web presence correctly (e.g. by utilizing micro sites) you can cast both a fairly wide marketplace net while still appealing to profitable niches.
Here are four important rules for niche marketing:
- Don’t muddy your message. Hone in like a laser on what makes you unique and special and most importantly, what your prospects and customers need to know to have a better professional and/or personal life.
- Align the rest of the organization around the marketing message. Niche marketing doesn’t mean just throwing some industry-specific keywords onto your website. Your product strategy, service plan and sales model need to be in sync.
- Stay one step ahead of your customers. As a player in a specialized business game, you had better understand the rules and trends of that game. You don’t have to know everything, but you must know enough to be seen as a trusted authority.
- Stop trying to be the best. This is not the most intuitive advice but makes sense when you ponder it. One of my favorite business thinkers is Michael Porter, noted economist, business adviser and business professor at Harvard. Porter urges companies to stop trying to follow the herd by being the best (when measured by what other firms do) and instead strive to be different. Read this HBR article for more on this subject.
One other smart thinker when it comes to niche marketing is noted copywriter Bob Bly, who stated in a recent article, “The secret to making more money as a copywriter … author … consultant … speaker … freelance writer … independent contractor … Internet marketer … or in virtually any other business on Earth – is to become a highly paid specialist — and pick a lucrative niche market with huge demand and limited competition.”
Go forth and Get Rich in Your Niche!