Many partners think that selling to the widest possible market is the likeliest path to success. They are afraid to pursue a market niche because they fear they'll lose business by turning away customers. But this 'take all comers' approach is not very effective. It's hard to stand out when you market your business without a distinctive set of prospects in mind.
Occupying a niche means you won't be competing with a lot of similar businesses solely on price. And because you will be selling products and services that are customized to the specific needs and predispositions of a select group of people, you can often charge more. Your products and services serve a market that can't easily find alternatives.
The process starts with market research: analyze your best potential customers, your competitors, your market's predisposition toward your products and services, and your ability to serve these people so well as to make you their vendor of choice.
Market research is like sticking your toe into a lake before jumping in. If you figure out exactly which group of people you want to reach, and what their needs are, you avoid wasting time and money. Once you know, you can alter your product or services to fit the needs of your target market more closely, and you can craft a message that reflects your business and your customer.
Market research does not require expensive consultants, surveys or focus groups-- it can be as simple as asking your best customers the right questions. To determine if a particular niche is right for you, ask yourself these questions:
Do I have an identifiable target population with similar interests and needs?
Is the market large enough to support my business?
Can I tailor my products, services, and business identity to address that market's particular needs?
Is my target market currently underserved?
Can I reach my potential customers in a cost-effective manner?
Your niche will give your marketing efforts a natural, sharp focus. The more you specialize, the more your market will see the value of your services because you speak directly to their unique situation. Assuming your niche is large enough, you can do quite well by becoming a provider of products and services that can't be found anywhere else.
Larry Klein discovered his target market from the inside. A successful financial advisor, he retired from his primary job and became a marketing guru to other financial professionals. He knew they needed marketing help, but as he talked to them and worked with them, he discovered that what they wanted most were ways to reach seniors.
Klein explains, "I'm not 60. So, you don't have to be a member of your ideal marketplace. But if you talk to enough people in that market group, you're going to get it. You have to be awake and aware and be listening for what it is."
All the information you need to target and succeed in an ideal marketplace is out there waiting to be found," says Klein. "You can take the guesswork out of building a business."
Having talked to enough seniors to understand their needs, Klein refined a series of methods for approaching them with investment opportunities. Now he offers seminars and writes articles about these strategies and has defined himself as a specialist in this area. You and I may not have heard of him, but within his targeted sector of the financial planning community, Klein is slightly famous.
Copyright © 2003 Steven Van Yoder Get Slightly Famous is a Trademark of Steven Van Yoder