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The importance of defining your niche

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When I’m planning an online marketing strategy for a client we work together to first identify the client’s target market niche. We have to know what the market niche is before we can begin choosing specific keywords for the website or planning a social media strategy. We need to identify our target audience and the message we want to convey to them. Knowledge of the client’s market niche is essential in creating an effective marketing strategy for an online business.

Why do You Need a Niche?

There are competitors in every field. If you are a Business-to-Business service provider you already know this. No matter what field you are in, accounting, law, consulting or sales there are thousands of other businesses offering the same services or products.

Why should a potential client choose you over other professionals offering the same service or products?

You can answer this question and demonstrate your value by focusing on one niche. This could be either by specializing in a specific industry or by focusing on an aspect of your industry. The benefits of this are twofold. Firstly, you can offer your clients a more valuable service by narrowing down your focus and perfecting your skills in a specific area that is valued by your clients. Secondly you have limited the scope of your competition.

From the vast field of marketing I have chosen to focus on online marketing, and specifically SEO and content marketing for B2B companies. This echoes my interests, my professional experience and the area in which I can most benefit my clients.

In the last few years I have spoken to tens of professionals in service industries – friends, clients and colleagues – and I have observed that those who have a difficult time define their target audience as “someone who needs X services.” On the other hand those who recognize their niche market usually have more work than they know what to do with!

How Having (or Not Having) a Niche Affects Your Online Marketing?

Business owners have two major resources which are usually both limited – time and money – it is vital to use them advantageously. In order to use both your time and money to your advantage you need to know what your market is. Be absolutely clear about which market you are aiming to serve as all your marketing endeavors will be focused on this. This is even more important with online marketing as you usually have only a few seconds, at best, to gain someone’s interest.

Consider how people locate you online and how they communicate with you and your company online.

When someone is scanning quickly through a page of search results to decide which link to click on your website is only one of many. If they decide to follow your link and they reach your website the user will take only a moment to choose whether to stay on your site or whether to return to the search results. When they browse through your business blog they will only be giving it a perfunctory look to determine if it is worthwhile. If potential clients opt to follow you on a social media network your update will be one of many showing up on his newsfeed. The same goes for email updates and newsletters, your potential client will be receiving many similar mails from your competition. Throughout the Internet marketing process the one rare thing you’ll be competing for is a user’s attention.

Your content (web content, blog posts, social network updates) needs to evoke a response in potential clients in order to gain their attention. If your content fails to resonate with your audience it will reduce the impact of your overall online marketing as people will not follow through to your website, visit your business blog or share your updates on social media networks.

The one chance you have of gaining someone’s attention is to offer them relevant and quality content that fits their specific requirements. If you have identified your ideal target audience, and you create content that fulfills their needs then you will have a better chance of getting their attention.  Focusing on a niche will also improve your SEO.

Finding Your Niche

You can find your niche by identifying your area of expertise and by differentiating your skill set and services from your competitors. Ask yourself:

What do I like doing? Within your own industry there are tasks that you enjoy tackling more than others. What projects inspire you? It is important to recognize what gives you pleasure as we are usually already good at the things we enjoy.

What don’t I like doing? This question is just as relevant as knowing what you like. Which projects leave you uninspired and bored. Leave the projects that entail work that you don’t enjoy to your competitors and instead take on projects that will excite and inspire you.

What are my areas of expertise? What areas am I most experienced in? Consider how you came to have that experience. Did you work in a large company, a small business or a start-up? Do you have experience in a specific field or area within a wider industry? For example I began my career in marketing with an e-commerce business and so my experience was concentrated on blogging, social media marketing, SEO and Adwords campaigns. However my experience didn’t include planning offline marketing and so it was only natural that my focus would be online marketing.

What is my target market? Perhaps begin with a wider target (“anybody who needs X services”) but from there you’ll have to whittle it down to your niche target market. How can you dissect your market in to smaller niches? Well, for example your services may be useful to both start-ups and large established companies but which best suits your expertise, interests, experience and skills.

Who finds my services valuable? Your services might be valued by some clients more than others. From the clients you’ve already worked with pin point those who appreciated your work and were pleased to pay the fee you were asking. What do these clients have in common?

If you identify your niche you’ll be better able to market your product or services successfully. You’ll be aware of what differentiates you from your competition, what your unique skills in your field are and which clients value you most. Then you can create content that resonates with your target audience. Now you can make an online marketing plan and be sure that potential clients will be more interested in spending time on your website and want to share your social media updates.

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