History shows us that the fastest and greatest economic successes occur when nations find new, unexplored territories. That is why Christopher Columbus is still celebrated as a great Spaniard, despite being a (morally questionable) Italian: his “discovery” of the New World made Spain the greatest empire of that era.
In marketing, the equivalent of finding a new frontier is niche marketing.
Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim coined the term “blue ocean strategy” to describe this marketing approach.
Their 2005 book describes a blue ocean as a market that has not yet been overwhelmed with competing forces, while a red ocean is a saturated market.
Companies in a red ocean situation spend huge budgets just to survive while swimming with the other “sharks.”
As a small business marketer, your chance of financial survival is much higher if you find a blue ocean niche.
Don’t sell all things to all people
The first rule of niche marketing is to find your line and stick to it. Trying to reach everybody will keep you from really appealing to anybody.
When you provide highly focused and specialized content, you won’t interest everyone, but the people you do reach will be very interested. You’re giving them something they can’t find anywhere else.
That’s what niche marketing is all about: finding that one fruit on the tree that only you can reach.
From bacon-flavored vodka to professional development services for introverts, clever entrepreneurs have made good profits from incredibly specific niche markets! You might not have to go that far off the beaten path, but you do have to figure out what you’re offering that no-one else can provide.
Once you find your unique role, you can create content that your small audience will love, and the word will spread.
Not sure how to find that specialized audience? Take a look at your current clients and find out what the best ones have in common. Most profits usually come from a small, dedicated core group of customers, so identify them and make them your target.
Modern digital marketing has one huge advantage over its offline predecessor: analytics.
When you venture into new marketing territories, analytic data is your light in the darkness, but you need to use it well.
Being able to detect customer behavior with analytics and testing means you can go wild with your experiments without wasting too much energy and money.
Be flexible and create many different hypotheses about your niche audience. Check your visitors’ reaction and keep careful tabs on traffic patterns. This will help you find your ideal audience.
Surveys are also a great way to get to know your customers. Since you’re trying to target a very specific profile, I suggest creating a user survey with plenty of open-ended questions. It might take a little more time to process, but it will give you invaluable information about what your viewers are really looking for.
To have real impact, you need to create content that reads as authentic to your audience.
This means understanding your viewers as if you were one of them.
When you write a text that’s in tune with the reader’s mind, they have no resistance to your message – it doesn’t come off as just advertising – and you’ll have much more effect.
After all, the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing!
Authenticity in marketing means being true to the message of your brand. It’s important to come off as honest, and this comes from a balance act between consistency and sensitivity to your clients.
No-one likes feeling pandered to. Especially with a niche audience, you should always sound like you’re talking clearly and directly to them, not trying to hit bullet points for mass appeal.
So don’t be afraid to go out on some limbs. Post original content, stuff that’s unique to your brand or viewpoint, and respond to your audience. They’ll return loyalty for your authenticity.
If you feel like your brand is lost at sea, it might be because you’re aiming at too wide an audience. Focusing on a specialized, highly targeted audience makes many brands stronger in the long run.