Your business might be new. It might be established. It might be expanding or contracting, small or multi-national or even just a dream. Irrespective, it needs a defined niche. These 7 questions guide you through the personal and professional discovery that nails your niche, setting you apart from your competition.
These questions will not only define your niche, they’ll help you build an enterprise focused on the needs of the people it’s intended to serve, including you. This type of business is the only one worth building. Not just because it provides for everyone it touches, but because it survives into the future as a result.
Hold on! Maybe you’re wondering why I’m writing about niche strategy when my own unique niche is copywriting and graphic design? Well, deep understanding of business and marketing strategy is essential to the success of the work I do. I leverage my knowledge to clarify your overall business goals, support those goals and deliver positive ROI.
The type of business I refer to has everyone on-board and considers everyone. Not just the investors, but the staff, the contractors, the customers too. And those customers become your fans and your advocates.
1 Why am I doing this?
2 What is my business?
3 What problem(s) do I solve for people?
4 Who has this problem?
5 Where can I find them?
6 How can I connect with them?
7 How can I improve their life so they notice?
If the questions appear simple, the answers are very unlikely to be. So how should they be answered in a way that’s useful to your business and its goals? Read on.
Question one (why am I doing this?) is often the most difficult. But it’s your foundation for everything. Money is not the answer to that question. Money will not get you out of bed in five or ten years time if your don’t believe in what you’re doing. Money will not inspire your staff to reach deeply into themselves and apply all their unique creativity. If money is the only reason your people work for you, then you have a problem.
So what will inspire your people?
Only the energy and focus that comes when you, as their leader, know in your marrow what your core beliefs are, and act accordingly. When you know exactly why you’re doing this business and then apply that understanding. Then you’ll energise and motivate everyone. Nothing else is going to deliver for your customers over the long term.
And there’s another reason you need to uncover your purpose:
As a business owner, your job is not to direct. Your job is to lead, to be the primary source of inspiration and focus. Your job is to know your purpose. And then to know and trust your people and your product well enough to facilitate its production and sale.
Answer the questions
Take your time. Think deeply about them. What is this business really about? Why am I doing it? Who can I help?
Stand in the shoes of your target customers. Really stand there and examine what it feels like to be them. Stay there until you believe you know their pain, their needs, fears and dreams. What can you do to alleviate that pain, fulfil those dreams? Stay in this mindspace until you can see them, hear them, know them.
Now do the same for everyone involved in your organisation: staff, suppliers, contractors, everyone. What’s it like to be them? Observe. Practice the skills of observation, empathy and curiosity. Practice the skills for 21 days without a break to make them a permanent part of your skillset.
Note everything you discover and learn
Record your findings as fully as you think necessary, with whatever medium suits you; share with someone you trust, write by hand or type, sketch, or create a mind map.
Use whatever method suits you. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking your breakthrough is so profound you’ll never, ever forget it, ‘cos you probably will. I’ve learned that it’s astoundingly easy to forget profound insights. Besides, the act of recording cements and might even expand the insight.
If you find yourself lacking ideas, do something else until your thoughts clear, or email me if you need help.
When you’re finished, put aside what you’ve done for a period of time; a few hours or a day or so. If thoughts and ideas arise in the meantime, make sure you note them down.
Re-examine your answers
Work through everything you’ve noted. See how you might extend or alter your answers. Add those ideas and ask yourself, ‘are my answers as accurate and complete as I can make them right now?’
Make changes in response to that question, or add whatever’s missing.
This will always be a work in progress, you can’t otherwise evolve. Nothing is ever wasted. As you work you’re building real value for your business. And nothing is ever perfect or finished, even though your goal is to make it perfect, just for now.
Share and discuss the answers with someone you trust and once again ask yourself, ‘what’s incorrect or missing?’
Having done all this, you’re ready to make some changes in your business.
Examine your target audience
Realise there’s likely to be more than one target identity or ‘persona’ and create them. Give each of them a name – Adventurous Andy, Cautious Carol, Meg the Music-lover. Find a photo of someone who personifies each.
Modify your marketing
Look at each identity in isolation and modify your marketing strategy. Using segmentation, develop a strategy for every persona.
Find your target audience
Go where they hang out, even if it’s just through images or recordings. Join online forums and groups you think these people might frequent. Call on those skills you developed earlier: observation, empathy, curiosity. Search everywhere, not just online, but in the real world too. What interests your ideal customer? Where would those interests take them? Go there, watch what they do. Listen to them carefully. Hear their voice. Feel what they feel.
Examine your product and your existing processes again. How do they match the Vision? How do they differ? Modify them as necessary. Consider your systems and production. Look at your buyer-journey, your product’s packaging, or it’s pricing. Does it align with your target customers? Where are the blockages and hurdles, the places where your customer feels confused, undervalued or misunderstood?
Now you have a Vision to guide you. One with foundations as steady as a rock.
This vision is the essence of your business; it’s essential source, the element that’s unique to you, the elixir that not only carves your niche, but nails precisely how and why you’re going to grow the vision, gathering the resources you need and establishing a core set of devoted staff, suppliers, customers and fans as you go.
Stay in touch with your Vision
Use your Vision to help you stay on track and maintain both focus and momentum:
- make it visible around the office
- share it with your staff; arrange lunches, breakfast meetings etc. to discuss your vision
- set up an automated reminder to read it periodically
- examine it, reconsider it, and ask yourself if you’re going in the right direction
- modify your vision as you go
- meditate on it.
So what do you think? Did you find this useful? Do you have anything to add? Have you used any of these techniques? How effective has it been? Comment below.
Thanks for reading. My next post teaches how to write scripts for your corporate and social media videos.