Digital has dominated the marketing sphere in recent years. And why wouldn’t it? Being able to hyper-target your messaging on a large scale, the higher levels of engagement and typically higher ROI are all great reasons. Which is excellent, if your a business dealing with consumers or a large lead base, but what if you have a niche product or have a small lead pool? For small-medium companies, digital marketing and strategies like Inbound can often be far too costly and time-consuming.
My name is Nathan Cousins, a Digital Marketing Specialist, and I want to talk to you about how companies who provide a specialist or niche solution, can make the most of their marketing spend.
Don’t fall into the trap of Inbound.
You’ve probably heard that Inbound is the best thing since sliced bread. And it’s pretty close. Call me biased, but my entire career has involved the Inbound Methodology. By working with it all the time, I’ve also learnt when not to use the Inbound approach.
To summarise the process of Inbound, it’s all about producing great content that resonates with your buyer personas. This, in turn, will draw them to your website/landing pages where they will provide you with their contact details. From here you can then nurture these contacts into leads and eventually customers.
There are three main issues here for niche marketing:
- It takes a lot of investment to produce the content.
- It can take a long time to nurture those contacts.
- The idea of Inbound is to wait until your target market finds you.
Small businesses can often end up spending their entire budget on producing great content such as infographics and guide. Unfortunately, this won’t convert into real money without the leg work being put in too. Not only that, but for niche marketing, the budget should be spent more on targeting and getting your solution in front of your key market, rather than waiting for them to find you.
Know the market inside and out.
Just because your product/service is only going to help a small group of companies, it doesn’t mean you can be lazy with your market research. In fact, you probably want to spend more time doing your market research as it’ll be harder to find information. Not only that, but if you’re targeting a niche, you need to know all the details. Segmentation is vital here, and you need to know more than just the basic demographic information – age range, income etc.
The smaller the market, the more you need to know about your customers. Think about what websites they visit, newspapers they read, when they are online, what channels do they use, how do they get to work etc. You’ll also want to see if there’s any competition in the market.
Know how you solve the problems.
Before you do anything, you need to discover who your target audience is. Once you do, you’ll need to find out how your product/services solve the problems they are facing—ultimately enabling you to tailor your messaging to resonate with your audience.
Once you know how your product solves your customer’s problems, you’ll be well on your way to creating a compelling and unique value proposition. Pair this knowledge to your buyer personas, and you’ve basically created the message you should be putting in front of your prospects.
As always, whether your marketing to a large or small audience you need to put your customer first.
Think about how you can spread the word.
Niche marketing can’t be handled like “regular” marketing but on a smaller scale. It requires an entirely different approach to how you’re going to spread the word of your product/service. It’s vital that you asses the strengths of each marketing channel and weigh them up against your businesses goals and objectives.
A key example here is Social Media. Social media has been a very lucrative way for small businesses operating in niche and specialist areas. However, the restrictive targeting that is offered by Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn means it may not be the most cost-efficient way to market your business. These platforms know that targeting niches can be lucrative, which is why they’ll charge an arm and a leg to do so. A better alternative is Paid Search. Paid Search allows you to target long-tail keywords that your niche market is likely to search for, you can also make sure you’re bidding only on keywords that are cost-effective and you can be a lot more stringent with your spending.
Listen to your customers.
Who in your business knows your solution best? You? Your boss? The owner? If you answered anything but the Customers, then you’d be wrong.
This rings true whether your a small business or a large one. It’s your customers that are paying for your solution, and it is them that sees the genuine benefits from it. When I say Listen to your customers, I really do mean it.
If asked, they’ll often provide you with useful information that can be used to target others similar to them, or even highlight issues or improvements that could be made. I mentioned buyer personas earlier, and a key part of creating your buyer personas is getting genuine feedback from your active customer base. Typically, each buyer persona will represent a group of your ideal customers that all face similar issues. By using the problem as a key grouping, it’ll enable your marketing and sales teams to tailor their approach and use the best value proposition possible.
Look for openings.
Just because you’re selling to a niche market or have a specialist product doesn’t mean you can’t think about looking for additional opportunities. It’s crucial that you excel at what you do, but don’t ignore the other openings that your product line may open. Your product/service may just be solving a problem that you’re not even aware of. Just because you haven’t initially highlighted a specific audience in your buyer personas, doesn’t mean they can’t become your ideal customers.
However, it’s always advisable to thoroughly explore and research these opening rather than jumping straight at them. You don’t want to waste time chasing a dead duck.
Watch the competition.
Any business must keep an eye on its competition. It’s one of the only ways to make sure you’re not falling behind the curve. This is doubly true if you’re selling a specialist solution. New companies and advances in technology pop up all the time. You need to keep a close eye on what others who offer a similar product to yours are talking about and what developments they’re making. Do not make business decisions based on your competition, those should be driven by your customer feedback, but do keep an eye on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
If you’re looking to run a practical competitor analysis but don’t know where to start, check out our Back to Basics guide!