“Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing, right into your product or service. Not slapping on marketing as a last-minute add-on, but understanding that if your offering itself isn’t remarkable, it’s invisible.”– Seth Godin, Purple Cow
I’ve always liked the idea that any person, no matter their education or pedigree, can start a business. To me, it’s the great American equalizer. Although some people start with more privileged circumstances than others, anyone who can write, draw, paint, sing, crunches numbers, argue in court, research, impart ideas or create widgets can create a business and be successful.
But the questions becomes how does one start the right business? Do you need a spark of inventiveness? A vision from a muse? A jolt of creativity?
For a long time, I thought that great businesses were the function of the next great idea. You pick or invent the newest/best thing, start a company surrounding it, and then let people know about it. Since the newest/best thing is great, people will be falling over to buy it. You build it, and they will come.
Unfortunately, this is a romantic notion much like the movie. You may get lucky and find a product that takes off immediately, but the majority of businesses do not.
Great businesses actually start with the end in mind – the end meaning the people.
You may not realize it, but you exist in specialized groups. I exist in the specialized groups of 1) Women, 2) African American Women, 3) African-American Women with Natural Hair, and 4) African American Women Attorneys with Natural Hair, to name a few. In each one of these groups, I have specialized needs. For instance, as an African-American female attorney with natural hair, I am constantly looking for work appropriate styles that do not damage my hair. If someone were to develop a hairstyle maker and that hairstyle maker was specifically designed and marketed to professional women with natural hair, I’d buy that maker before purchasing anyone hairstyling tool. Why? Because the item specifically speaks to my needs. It’s not a styling tool for everyone (although anyone can use it); its design is specifically for me.
The specialized group I described above is called a niche. The word niche means relating to or aimed at a small, specialized group or market, and defining that group is paramount to creating a business. By defining your niche first, you can create products or services to meet the needs of that group and expand or shrink those offerings based on the responses from that group.
And the best part is, you don’t need the next big idea to do it. You simply need to listen and respond. What does that group want or need? What are they searching for on Google? What blogs, magazines, or apps do they use? What comments or questions are they posting? (Hint – I need a hairstyling tool for professional women with natural hair. I’m just saying.)
By speaking directly to an audience instead of speaking to everyone in general, your message hits home. It is the difference between looking someone in the eye when you speak and looking at the wall behind the person. One is bound to be more impactful.
In deciding on a niche, consider these five areas as a way to narrow the focus for your product or service.
- Your geographical area
- Stats of your ideal client (male/female, age, income, family size)
- Common association or membership (religious organization, fraternity/sorority)
- Your personality – who do you want to serve? Artists, engineers, etc.
Once you niche it and niche it real good, you are on your way to a successful business. No out-of-body meeting with a muse required.
Are you using a niche to determine your next product or services? Do you have any thoughts to share about how to determine a niche? Please respond in the comments below.