Is Marketing An Impossible Task For Niche Industries?
When it comes to marketing, working in a niche industry isn’t a dead zone. We get why some people think it is. It's understandable. Think of the store that only sells vegan barbeque food or the company that produces the bristles for paintbrushes. How could they ever hope to make a marketing impact? Read on to discover 3 reasons why niche businesses have the upper hand.
When you look at your own company, do you sigh and think, ‘No-one’s going to understand this…’ or ‘People will think this is boring…’ or ‘What blog topic do I even write about for my website?’
3 reasons why niche industries win at marketing
We’ve always thought that far from being a burden, marketing in a niche industry is a golden opportunity. There are three major reasons to be optimistic, no matter what your niche.
Reason 1: You are unique
For one thing, you can publish information that no-one else is, driving traffic to your site. You’ll be able to tell whether or not other sites are asking the questions your customers expect you to answer – and with less competition, you’ll stand a greater chance of dominating the field and highlighting your expertise.
Reason 2: You don't need to battle the big guns
The cost of advertising to a strictly defined audience is going to reduce your marketing budget massively. You’re not going to take the scattergun approach – which sees you spend-spend-spend on all channels, desperately bidding for the attention of all audiences – but rather zero in on your target market, advertising yourself on the channels and platforms they use, at the times they use them.
Reason 3: You can get really creative
But the main reason marketing in a niche industry is great is this: You can really get creative. No one else is doing it so now is your time to shine. Being able to take a current event or news item and link it back to your niche is a finely tuned skill which will demonstrate your creativity to your audience.
Think of your niche industry as wild, unchartered plains. And you’re blazing a trail across it.
Know your audience
It’s Marketing 101, of course, but it matters so much more when you’re working in a niche sector. This goes well beyond very basic buyer personas, with vague notions of who your customers are (male and female, aged 18-55, with moderate disposable income just isn’t going to cut it here; female readers, aged 21-29, highly educated, politically disconnected, voracious Twitter users with an unquenchable thirst for learning is so much better).
There’s a pretty good reason for that: The more you know about your audience, the more likely you are to hit upon marketing angles that work.
You’ll understand their sense of humour, their cultural touchstones, the movies and music they grew up on. You can speak their language, elicit reactions, and focus on their pain points in a way that steals their attention.
You should even go one step further, and segment those niche audiences into… even more niche audiences. This can help better target your market, perhaps by appealing to those who like email blasts, the ones more likely to visit you on Facebook or those in a tightly focused age range.
It becomes a case not of more marketing, but of better marketing.
As a niche industry, this all plays into a much bigger picture… Building a community of loyal followers. Being part of something, from handbag collectors to online learners, that’s all anyone online really wants. Now’s your chance to create a totem around which customers can flock.
Be different and develop personality
Top of any niche company’s list is standing out in the crowd – even if you’re the only company offering your services.
You can solve this in three words: Who are you?
You know what happens to businesses without a personality? They get forgotten. They become the business equivalent of that guy at the party hiding in the corner, shyly waiting for someone to talk to him. What’s required is a bit of confidence, a bit of derring-do – the best niche brands are those with the strongest character.
Your brand’s personality should jive with your audience’s best bits or even playfully appealing to their worst side, like Dirty Rotten Flowers does. Here we have a company that lets you send, well, dirty, rotten flowers to someone you intensely dislike, or just for fun, if you’re not in the malicious mood.
Dirty Rotten Flowers appeals to the darker side in all of us (don’t pretend you don’t have one); it lets us harmlessly and passive-aggressively have the final say in an incredible visual manner; visuals that are set-up on the website and paid-off in the product.
Check out their site, it’s a masterpiece of pseudo-class mixed with genuine loathing. The logo’s fonts curl and swirl like a familiar luxury brand, but their colours – black and red – scream danger. Couple that with the dominating image of a festering flower bouquet, and the brand’s personality is flawlessly conveyed before you even read a single word. The tongue’s in the cheek, but there’s bloodlust in their eyes.
Their entire positioning is summed up in one neat sentence: ‘Let DRF help you say “Thank you” when you really want to say “Thanks for nothing.”’
Dirty Rotten Flowers didn’t just find a niche and exploit it; they tapped into a very real and recognisable human emotion (vengeance will be mine!), and channelled it into a successful business.
Think about bigger brands, like Apple, which perfectly mirrors its customers’ dedication to aesthetics, originality and creativity; compare that to Microsoft, who are sort-of light but mostly straightforward and sensible, just like the corporate suits the company primarily targets.
It’s all about setting yourselves apart from others – sure, Coke and Pepsi offer similar fizzy products, but while Coke is uber-family friendly, Pepsi is the edgy choice for younger consumers. And those personalities feel authentic, just as yours should, because customers can spot a phoney at ten paces.
Stand for something, say something, be someone. And do it from a position of strength.
Experiment and test your messaging
Welcome to the internet. A tweet is fleeting. A PPC campaign is gone in the blink of an eye. And that, friends, is delightfully liberating.
It’s probably the biggest change to marketing in decades: The ability to experiment until you hit pay-dirt. And that’s a whole lot easier for niche brands than for well-established ones.
This is a great chance to turn even apparently mundane topics into creative gold. Why pen an article like ‘Top 10 Tips for Trainspotters’ when you could instead write one that explains ‘Why Trainspotters Make the Best Lovers’? If it appeals to your loyal following, then it’s worth trying, and unless you’re being mindlessly offensive, the worst that can happen is no-one reads it.
But by that point, you’ll have the data, discovering what makes an impact with your audience, and you can use that to inform the next round in your marketing strategy. This works across the board; from paid ads messaging to the subject lines of emails – you can constantly test, assess and improve. That might mean scrapping entire concepts to lightly modifying the tone of your copy to refocussing your efforts on LinkedIn rather than Facebook, but all of it becomes an education that will yield creative, original ideas (because no-one ever got rich by playing it safe).
Remember, people generally only share two types of content: those that make them laugh and those that make them feel smart. Play with this. Have fun with it. Get people talking.
So how can you drive leads?
So let’s sum it all up. To create a marketing buzz when you’re in a niche industry…
- Be bold
- Be experimental
- Be customer-conscious
- Be you
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