On finding my niche…and evolution

by on January 17, 2011

Does your small business have a niche?

It’s something that you will hear over and over again in marketing… Find your niche. Find your perfect target audience. Find a way to differentiate yourself. Find an angle.

For some small businesses, this comes easily.

For the rest of us, we have to work a little harder at it.  It can be quite a stressful journey. At least it was for me…

The 2 things that were keeping me from defining my niche

1. I was terrified of making the wrong decision. What if I pick a specific niche, adjust all my communications to reflect that, and then decide 3 months down the road that that’s not actually where I want to be? This scared me so much that I was paralyzed, and I just couldn’t decide.
2. I was afraid of alienating people. I thought if I made it very clear that I was only about these specific types of customers, that people that didn’t fit in this category wouldn’t like me. And wouldn’t hire me. When you’re first starting out, the thought of denying a source of income from anywhere seems crazy.

But eventually I came to my senses and realized that I couldn’t be a marketing consultant for all types of companies for every facet of marketing.

You can’t please everyone

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby

Defining a niche is important because you simply can’t please everyone. You just can’t. If you try you will burn yourself out. You will dilute your marketing and communications. You will confuse potential customers. Switching your mind frame from reaching everyone to reaching the right audience is business gold.

As the ever brilliant Seth Godin said, “If you try to please everyone, the few you don’t delight will either ruin your day or ruin your sense of what sort of product you should make.” It’s not a good place to be.

Make yourself stand out from the crowd

In very crowded markets, where it seems that everyone and their dog is in your biz, it can be very hard to differentiate yourself and your business. One way of doing this is by defining and communicating to a very specific target audience. The people that fall into your target group will love it and gravitate towards you, because you’re all about them. You speak to them in a language they like and understand. You get them.

You can also bring an angle to your business that’s different from what others are doing. If you’re a super funny person, and an accountant, why not take a humourous approach to accounting? That would certainly be different from what normally goes down in the accounting world.

And even if the niche or angle you want to go after has already been “taken”, you can still bring your own personal spin and passion to it. If you’re funny, your humour is definitely your own. Let yourself shine through and I guarantee you that no one can match that.

So how did I finally break out of the paralysis rut?

I was reading an article by Mars Dorian, where he encourages his readers to take a stand and grow a business around something you believe in.  And then it kinda hit me on the head, just like Johnny B. Truant said it would.

I don’t want to support huge corporations. I love small business. I want to do my part to help small businesses succeed. Sharing my marketing skills with small business owners and entrepreneurs is exactly how I can do that.

And there it is!

So just keep on plugging away until you find your “sweet spot” or your niche. It will eventually come to you. And when it does, it will feel so right. Because ultimately, you shouldn’t just be picking an arbitrary niche because you think it’s where the money is at. It has to fit with you and what you are passionate about. Don’t focus on moms if you don’t care about moms. If you can find a way to mix your passions with your skills, to remove the barriers between work and life , that is where the true sweet spot in entrepreneurship lies.

Words of wisdom from my niche finding journey …

• Be patient – it will take some time. I didn’t know right off the bat, so I experimented a little and gave myself some time and space to determine what it was that would get going. Don’t force it.
• Just do what feels right and don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing. I was paralyzed for a while thinking about how to be different. When I really should have just focused on being myself.
• You can’t please everyone, nor should you try to. Figure out who your “people” are. I was so busy trying to prove that I was a  multi-faceted marketer that I lost sight of the types of clients  I wanted to work with and the fact that online marketing is my true love.
• Flexibility is key when it comes to changing your plan and your direction. Once you’ve nailed that niche or target market, it might take a little while to figure out what it is that they are looking for. You’ll probably be a little off at the start and that’s OK. Being able to adjust and adapt is crucial.

Now that I’ve got my niche down pat, it’s kind of hard to believe that it took me so long to get there. Supporting small business is something that I have felt very passionately about for a long time; long before I decided to go out on my own and start my own consultancy. But so it goes with defining your niche. It’s scary. And you have all kinds of self-doubts that stand in the way and obscure what you know deep in your heart. But you’ll get there eventually!

I’d love to hear what you all think about my new focus and more defined niche. Hopefully it’s still right up your alley, and if not, I totally respect that 🙂

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessilicious January 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Hi Martina!

Ah, the niche… Such an important piece to have in place! 🙂 I’ve been on an interesting journey of finding mine over the past year, and it finally all came together only a couple of months ago with the whole “quirky entrepreneurs” theme. It felt like it took FOREVER to find my sweet spot, but once I did, everything just exploded from there. 🙂 It’s pretty neat to see what happens when you do find that sweet spot! 😀
Jessilicious recently posted..How I Tripled My Website Traffic in Only Two Months


Martina January 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for sharing your personal experience Jess! It really is so amazing once you get it figured out. Everything just clicks 🙂


John M. Hoyt January 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm

You CAN’T please everyone… I would like to think that you can, but it is virtually impossible to do so. So focus on who you can please and do that well. Took me a long time to figure that out!
John M. Hoyt recently posted..Let’s help out WSPA 7′s Amy Wood – @TVAmy by Nominating Her for a Shorty Award! Greenville Upstate


Martina January 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Thanks for the comment John! You’re so right about concentrating on wowing your perfect audience. The only way to go 🙂


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