Niching can feel counterintuitive at first; the idea of scaling down to scale up isn’t comforting for most people.
Finding your business’s niche is a great way to make it more successful. Yet many business owners are afraid to niche down for fear of limiting their services and missing out on potential sales. This is where businesses end up stagnating.
What Space Are You Occupying?
Let's compare business niching to ecological niching. Every living organism has a role on this planet, whether you're a human or a dung beetle. In order for your species to survive, you have to create your own niche. That could be how you mate, eat or socialise.
For example, the pebble toad of Venezuela has a rather odd method of escaping. When it sees a tarantula, it curls up in a ball and throws itself down a cliff! Sounds painful! It can only hop an inch, so it has evolved to adopt this unique method of evading capture.
What space are you occupying? Have you carved out a niche that makes you impenetrable? While the business world isn't quite as ruthless as the animal world, it's always easier if you aren't fighting in a crowded space.
Small is the New Big
Small businesses make up the vast majority of the marketplace - but that doesn’t mean small businesses are particularly successful. A lot of small startups end in failure or bankruptcy.
The startups that do manage to stay in business often stagnate and fail to build a sustainable business model. This happens because new companies try to be everything to everyone. This dilutes your focus and can be the root of your business’s downfall.
There are many benefits to niching down that will make you a more successful business owner:
1. Limit your competition
One of the most significant benefits of finding your niche is reducing your competition. If you’re offering a general service - say, recruitment - you’ll compete with thousands of other recruitment agencies that provide the same service.
If you choose to niche down and focus on recruiting candidates in the manufacturing industry, you’ll face less competition and be more likely to pick up specialist clients. The result; your competition shrinks as you compete with other recruitment firms in the manufacturing sector.
You can often corner smaller niche markets, as other businesses will be reluctant to try and take shares in such a small, risky market. Or they'll provide other products as well as the one you do.
What are you good at? What's your specialist subject? Write your ideas down! Think about what you aren't good at, and whether you should keep doing it.
2. Become an industry leader
For clients to choose your specialist service over general services, position your business as the expert in your niche. You need to offer more than a general service can. Luckily, when you choose to niche down, you’ll find that you have more time to excel at what you do best.
By focusing on a particular area of your business, you’ll have more time to perform in-depth research on your target market and be able to communicate with them more effectively. The more you know about your industry, the more recognition you’ll gain, and the more your ideal clients will trust you and want to work with you.
3. Better targeting
All businesses, large or small, are in the marketing business. Whether you're slapping your logo on billboards or posting the odd message on Facebook, everyone wants exposure.
When you’re trying to target a large, widespread audience, you’ll find that your budget may not allow your business to reach that range. Spreading your budget too thinly is ineffective. When you know your niche market, targeted content is a viable option.
By choosing one type of customer to focus on, you can optimise your marketing plan to your demographic. The result? Your budget will show more bang for its buck. The more successful your marketing plan is, the more you’ll reach potential clients and close sales.
4. Improve your online visibility
Better targeting goes hand-in-hand with improved online visibility. By focusing on a niche, you’ll find Search Engine Optimisation easier because you’re targeting a specific group of people. There’ll be less competition for the keywords you’re targeting, and the traffic you attract is more likely to convert into sales because your business is a good match for their needs.
For example, if your company produces retro sweet jars and you use these words as your SEO keywords, you’ll be up against other businesses who are targeting the same thing.
If you niche down on “personalised retro sweet jars”, you’ll be competing with a smaller number of businesses. Remember, if you don't sell personalised sweet jars don't use the keyword. If your service isn't niche, you'll have to compete with the harder to get keywords.
The more you niche down, the better your chance of appearing on Google’s first page of search results, otherwise known as ‘the money page’. By appearing on page one (and the closer to the top the better), you’ll find you get more traffic to your website.
5. Establish a network
Guess what? Your customers and clients hang out with others just like them. When you focus your business on a niche, you’ll find that you establish a better repertoire with clients and attract more referrals. This creates the foundations for a strong networking base.
You should join networking groups and attend events about your niche. You could even provide industry knowledge at events. Get creative and start thinking of ways you can target your audience other than a generic social media post.
6. Build a loyal customer base
When you’re offering a niche service and do it well, you’ll find that customers and clients return time and time again because there’s little competition. Once clients find a provider that offers the niche service they need, they’re unlikely to look elsewhere because they know there aren’t many other providers. You become the only logical choice.
Don't get complacent though; many businesses make that mistake. They think because they are most people's choice they can sit back and relax. Wrong. The minute you miss a trend or start to take your customers for granted, they'll go elsewhere. Stay sharp.
7. You’ll learn how to troubleshoot problems
Every business comes up against tricky hurdles. Whether it’s an issue with your product, trouble with your production line or a kink in your delivery method, prepare for cracks in your service.
When you have a broad general service, there’s more potential for problems. When they appear, you may not have the necessary expertise to handle them. When you niche down on your service, you can focus intensively on every aspect. You can troubleshoot them quickly and make your service even better. It’s about continuous improvement.
8. Confidence attracts sales
By having a niche that you excel in, you’re in greater control of every aspect of your branding and marketing message. When it comes to pitching to potential clients, creating online content or dealing with customer enquiries, you’ll develop a clear and consistent message that you deliver with confidence.
Your sales team can pitch with greater confidence, knowing your company has an excellent track record in the niche it serves. Confidence always attracts sales!
9. Niching gives expansion a focus
This might sound counterintuitive, but the problem with generalised businesses is that there’s so much going on it’s hard to find the right path to expansion.
New ideas for growth aren’t a problem for most companies; knowing which ideas are worth implementing is challenging. If your concept strengthens the one that's already performing, then it may be worth pursuing.
When you have a definite niche and business vision, decision making has a natural feel to it. Ask yourself, “Does this new idea strengthen our relationship with our target market or does it dilute it?”.
10. Define your vision and goals
When you find your business’s niche, you can build a specific business plan suitable for that niche. You can refine your short-term goals over time as you test, measure and tweak your strategies to find what works best for your business.
Whatever adjustments you make, ensure they are in-line with your long-term vision to reach your niche market. This is a challenging process for generalised businesses because diluting focus leaves them with blurry business direction.
Tips to find your niche
By now you should be convinced that finding your business’s niche is crucial, but you may be wondering how to choose your niche. Here are a few points to consider to help you identify the best way for your company to niche down, including:
- Your passion - passion builds the best companies. If you’re not passionate about your business, it’s unlikely you’ll commit to it. Running a business takes dedication, hard work and persistence. Which are difficult to maintain if you’re not passionate. Don’t try and choose your niche purely on profit (although that’s important), focus on your interests.
- Research - once you have an idea for what your niche could be, do your research. Identify how much demand there is for your product or service in that niche. There may be a niche in the market, but is there a market in the niche? See if there's any competition or someone doing something similar. Look at reviews and social media accounts to find out what makes your idea better and how you can improve your niche.
- “Who?” and “what?” - if you’ve been in business for a while, look through your existing customer base. See who your best customers are and what particular product or service you provide them. You may find a common trend amongst your customer base that can help you identify a niche market.
At Red-Fern, we practice what we preach. We’ve chosen our niches, inbound marketing, web design and bespoke development.
There are plenty of other services we could have targeted, but instead we’ve chosen to work with those we excel in. We’re not the only ones deciding to niche down either.
Other marketing companies that have found their niche. For example, Australian firm Industrial Ideas focus on a similar target market yet they concentrate less on digital marketing and more on marketing plans. The key is to provide a product or service to a niche that you can lead in.
Editors note: This post has been revamped and updated for 2018. At Red-Fern, we love keeping our content fresh, it ensures our articles are up-to-date, relevant and accurate!