Defining a distinct niche is key to building your small business. The narrower the niche, the wider the opportunity. Easy to say, but hard to do. Where do you find your niche? How do you define it?
|Jay Ehret speaking at the 140 Conference|
Our friend Jay Ehret at The Marketing Spot wrote, “Why I don’t find a niche” also titled as “Is Niche Marketing Wrong?” Great provocative title! I’ll tell you more about Jay’s niche at the end of this post.
Here are eight ways you can define and narrow down your small business niche.
1. Build at an Intersection
Look for a knowledge intersection. Start by listing out areas you know and skills you have. Where could you make those overlap?
- Updated marketing skills for tourism: Sheila Scarborough and me in Tourism Currents
- Economic development for small towns: Jack Schultz’s Agracel
As you read each of these other ways to carve out a niche, think of how you could overlap several of them into an unassailable position.
2. Serve an Industry
What group of people are looking for what you do? Do you have special knowledge of a particular industry?
- Linen service for restaurants and food service
- More specific: for mobile food trucks
- Websites for churches and religious organizations: Emmanuel Press
3. Provide a Specialized Service
Many small businesses make a big mistake here, and try to offer every type of service or product they can for their market. Better to cut down your offerings to the ones you are the best at.
- Provide the education only, not the service itself
- Provide the service only, not education
- Certify others to provide service under your brand: Duct Tape Marketing
- Provide repair for products, no matter where purchased (Huge small town opportunity there.)
4. Target a Tough-to-Serve Customer
Some people have specific conditions or qualities that mean they have a hard time finding service. When they find out that is your specialty, you’ll have a loyal new customer.
- Daycare specializing in newborns and infants (Many centers won’t take them.)
- Serving small businesses at the stage of hiring their first employee (By definition, they don’t have much money.)
5. Provide Your Service in Unexpected Places
Go to your customers. Be a business within a business, like a snack shop inside a bank. I think the business-within-a-business idea has huge potential for small towns.
- Laundry and dry cleaning with office pickup and delivery
- Prepared meals delivered to your home
- Mobile notary services (I’ve seen their trucks!)
- The tri-state area
- Northwest Oklahoma
- Woods County
7. Offer the Best Service
Many say it, but few deliver! If you’re going to try to use service as your niche, you damn well have to be outstanding at customer service.
- Action Wholesale Liquor in Oklahoma City. They say, “Service is our specialty,” and they aren’t kidding!
- United Linen in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. They say, “We bring it!” and they do.
8. Distinguish Yourself with Price
You can be highest or lowest. Either one is better than being in the middle with everyone else.
- The classy steak place
- The cheap eats joint
Why “Small Business” is Not a Niche
Several businesses lately have told me they are targeting “small business.” That is not very well defined. That could be everything from one person working freelance to a 500 person firm, located anywhere in the world, in any industry, with any revenue amount, or with any growth pattern. Be sure you think through the additional ways you’ll target specific small business as your market.
Jay’s Niche at The Marketing Spot
Jay is the one who asked “is niche marketing wrong?” He does not target a particular industry, and that inspired me to write this post. He really does have a niche, even though it isn’t an industry. I would describe it as an educating entrepreneurial small business people on marketing skills, sharing a four point approach through speaking, events, and online content. He’s not doing direct consulting with small business; he’s teaching them. He’s not working with larger businesses and corporations. He’s excluding those who don’t want to learn. It’s a pretty sharp niche.
What other ways can you think of to niche? What outstanding examples of creative niche-work have you seen?
- About the Author
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.