As they say, riches are in the niches. Practically speaking, this means that when you have a clearly defined niche audience (also known as you ideal customer avatar), you can tailor and focus your branding, marketing, and messaging to attract that specific audience. The efficiency of your communication will increase multi-fold.
In the beginning of our business journey, we feel compelled to leave our target audience definition very broad. This is because we either think that it’s better not to be too specific as that might scare some potential customers off. Or we genuinely believe our services or products can benefit most everyone.
However, for creating successful branding, we need to define our target audience — also known as ideal customer avatar. This simply because different people are drawn to different things. If you want to attract 50+ male executives as your customers, your brand can’t look like it’s the latest makeup fad for high school girls.
When we add marketing and selling our services to the equation, we need to take even deeper dive into our target audience. We need a niche audience. This is what Issuu Blog writes about the concept of niche audience:
This specific audience is a selective group of people who have specific wants, needs and interests. Small but mighty, niche audiences hold great value for brands and their success. Niche audiences are so valuable because they are often more engaged, active and responsive users. As well, due to their specific likes/dislikes this makes it very easy for marketers to target content to them, instead of worrying about a large crowd with varying interests.By Issuu | October 25, 2018
So, niche audience is easier to target. They’re more engaged and more responsive to your messaging and offering. If you are successful in defining a niche audience and communicating with them, they might even feel as though you’re reading their minds. And you’re able to earn their trust because you seem to understand their wants, needs, and struggles.
Finding a niche audience gets easier the longer you’ve been running your business. This is because you will learn more about your customers, hear more about their needs and pain points, and gain insights on how to serve certain audience groups better.
But how do you define your niche audience in the very beginning, maybe even before you’ve made your first sale? What do you have in your business that might attract a niche audience?
There’s a lot that goes into defining the niche audience. You will have the basic demographics ranging from age and gender to cultural background and other generic qualifiers. These alone don’t create a niche audience.
You will also want to define the interests and hobbies, family relations, professional background, level of education, and other relevant things about your niche audience.
But even if you define all the above, you don’t yet have a good starting point for your niche audience. Because the most important things to define are:
- What they struggle with (pain points)
- What they desire (wants)
- What they’re trying to achieve (needs)
And then your service or product should solve for those.
Since you have a business — or you’re in the process of building one — you’ll already have at least a some idea of what kind of problems your offering will solve. So, let’s start from there.
Traditionally thinking, there’s a customer problem and your product or service is the solution. But we want to stretch that further. There’s a famous metaphor in the marketing and branding world about selling drills. It goes something like this: people who are buying drills don’t actually want the drill, they want a hole in their wall. And according to this conventional wisdom, we should not be selling our customers the drill, we should be selling them the hole.
This makes sense 100% to a degree. But I would take it further. The person does not want the hole either. What they want is a painting on the wall, or a shelf mounted, or anything else why they’d be drilling that hole. If they could get all of it done without making a hole, they probably would.
So, you probably shouldn’t be selling the drill. But you shouldn’t be selling the hole alone either. What you need to add to the equation is the end game: the transformation.
When you’re defining a niche audience, a good place to start is to look into your offering (product or a service), the solution it creates, and the transformation your customer goes through. And try to define each of those carefully by thinking: what in your business is so special about those that they would attract the attention and loyalty of a selective group.
And then you add the implied customer qualities of each of those layers (offering, solution, transformation) into one special group, which will become the starting point for your niche audience. Let me take my drill example further to explain a bit more.
Step 1: Niche with your offering
YOUR OFFERING: A drill manufacturer has a drill that has a super special motor function that is used to drill a very specific kind of wall material
NICHE FACTOR: old homes from the 1930’s have this special wall material
Step 2: Niche with your solution
YOUR SOLUTION: You can make a neat hole with this drill on the special wall material, but handling the drill is challenging
NICHE FACTOR: Need lots of experience or special training in using this type of drill
Step 3: Niche with customer transformation
CUSTOMER TRANSFORMATION: To mount kitchen cabinets and remodel kitchen of an old 1930s home with the special wall material
NICHE FACTOR: Focusing on kitchen shelving over say paintings, etc.
NICHE AUDIENCE: Professional remodelers who specialize on houses from the 1930’s
As you may have noticed, some factors of the niching down come from the product and the problem it solves. But others come from the personal preference of the drill manufacturer — like focusing on kitchen shelving.
The drill may have special functionality that is perfect for the 1930s old wall materials, but the selection to focus on mounting kitchen shelving is subjective. Or it could be due to market research that indicates there’s more demand for kitchen remodeling in these houses, and therefore it makes sense to take that angle. In any case, you will need to look other factors than just your offering, solution, and transformation to get a successful niche audience. But this will give you a good starting point.
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