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Employee
Employee
‎08-10-2011 06:41 AM
‎08-10-2011 06:41 AM

Guest post from Melinda F. Emerson who wrote the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months; A Month-By-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Melinda is known to many as the “Small Biz Lady,” one of the country’s leading small business experts. 

 

 

One of the top reasons why small businesses fail is because they try to sell to anyone that they think has money.  Now hear this:  If everybody can use your product or service, no one will.

 

That is why it’s important to have a niche – narrow in on your potential customers.  A niche has a particular market or specialty area where a company finds it profitable to concentrate its efforts. Niche marketing also offers an area of limited competition.

 

Why Niche? Niche marketing is cost-effective. By identifying your niche customer you can eliminate a lot of guess work and your marketing dollars will be targeted and go a lot further. The more specific your customers are the easier it is to meet their needs. You must study where they shop, where they live, how often they buy things, what their values are and what are their pain points—then armed with a detailed customer profile it is much easier to design custom solutions and sell to them.

 

Use the internet to dig deeper into your market. For example, I know an event planner created a website focused on Sweet 16 parties to advertise her business. She researched the key words people used to search for help with teen party planning and made sure to use those key words in her blog posts and marketing copy. Her business really took off after she launched her “princess for a day” website. Use the web to establish your niche brand, and become the ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of your niche.

 

Niche marketing is a major theme in my book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months; A Month-By-Month Guide to a Business That Works.  The book walks you step-by-step through the Emerson Planning System, which will reduce your learning curve as you start your business. 

 

Reduce the Competition

You must niche to get rich as a small business owner. Nowadays, all competition is global.  Competing on price is virtually impossible, so it is all about adding maximizing value for your customers. This means you must specialize in solving their core problem.  The best thing about running a niche business is that you reduce the competition.

 

Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to go after too broad a market. They chase too many clients in too many diverse industries.  As a small business owner you have limited time and limited resources to market your business. Do not chase every ambulance going down the street that you think might have money in the back.  After months of doing this, your business will be on life support in need of emergency care.

 

If you try to sell to anyone with money—you’re going to struggle in business. And you will not be known for anything.  One of the best ways to carve out a niche for your business is to position yourself as an expert. Try blogging, writing a book, doing media interviews on your topic, expertise or the services you are offering.  Make sure you create a social media footprint that shows that you are the go to expert in your field. People will “google “you before they even pick up the phone to call you for a quote.

 

Consider this; lots of people sell graphic design services, promotional products and desserts. Why should anyone buy them from you?  Lots of people sell marketing consulting services.   What makes your services so special? What difference does it make to my business if I use your service? Do you have an answer for this in your business?

 

Do you have a niche business? Tell me about it?

 

The first 23 to post a comment will get a copy of Melinda’s book courtesy of the Verizon small business team.  To get real-time insights from Melinda Emerson join our LIVE Twitter chat tomorrow (August 11) at 2 p.m. ET.  For more information on the chat click here.

 

 

 

Comments
Admin Emeritus
Admin Emeritus

Was happy to see this post, I'll definitely be looking into the book! Ready to start working for myself!

 

Working on finding a tech writing/instructional design niche.

Contributor Vipul
Contributor

Always wanted to start my own business but was overwhelmed by what steps and in what order the steps should be taken.  Definitely want to read this book to get some insight and understanding of what it takes.

Contributor Stefver
Contributor
Ms. Emerson really does a great job with small business information. If you don't follow her on Twitter, be sure to do so. She hosts weekly small business chats. I agree niche is a must!!! My saying is "do what you do best and get better at the rest." Focus your knowledge and profit from it! Thanks, Stefan Arnold
Contributor Leora
Contributor

Very true, Melinda.  There are many people who build websites, but I've made my niche in Rutgers sites, public library sites and small business sites.  I also find clients because like to work with me.  Teaching people to find a niche is a great idea.

 

"maximizing value for your customers" - yes!  Making your customers say, thank you, thank you, thank you.  That always feels good.

 

I've also learned which potential clients aren't worth my pursuing - too small or too big.  Learning one's limitations is a process.

 

I'd like to read your book.

Contributor launchtherapy
Contributor

Melinda makes an excellent point.  When I first opened my law practice 5 years ago, I made the mistake of trying to serve almost everybody.  In fact, I intentionally decided to avoid trying to niche because I was afraid of missing out on a client and leaving money on the table.  Boy was I wrong!  Once the "lightbulb popped on" for me, I embraced creating a niche and have done so ever since.  Unless you're in a commodity business (which few of us are), niching is imperative to creating a brand identity and marketing strategy.

Contributor JMarie
Contributor

"What makes your services so special? What difference does it make to my business if I use your service? "  Will definitely be working on my answers. Thanks, Melinda, for providing invaluable insight.

Contributor gvillenotary
Contributor
This could not be a truer statement! My business is tailored to my local area. I just started marketing my mobile notary service on a major scale about a month ago, and I definitely think it has spread so quickly is because of the uniqueness of doing SEO for my type of business. Notaries are always needed and because the market here is not saturated, it is a win-win for me, even if it gets to that point... Because then I will be a familiarity!
Contributor gvillenotary
Contributor
To add, I do not serve everybody. Those who can get to banks for simple docs are not my primary customers. I serve those doing loan modifications, cash purchases, refinancing and debt consolidation.
Contributor ecommerceteachr
Contributor

Hello Melinda,

 

You are so right on point and on time with this article. Most don't realize that you must work backwards when finding a genre to do business in. That is finding a niche that is asking for a certain widget/service then give it to them. The event planner was right on track with finding keywords that were highly searched. As a self taught person of ecommerce for over 10 years, I target my teaching of ecommerce to people in third world countries via the net, that are wanting to be empowered to change their way of life. It has been quite spiritually satisfying to know that I can help someone in this way. Ecommerce Teacher to the rescue, lol Smiley Happy

Contributor think77
Contributor

Good advice, funny how I ended up here after exploring what Twitter is. I have followed several prominent internet gurus but I think your advice was the piece I was missing. Thanks (have to hurry off now and target my efforts to my niche lol)

Contributor KarynClimans
Contributor

So true! I often have people asking me why I don't make hats as well as helmet covers. I'm a great believer in having a niche market because you can't be ALL to all people. My product line is completely unique, www.tail-wags.com. Tail Wags are designed to make it FUN for kids and adults to wear a safety helmet.

Employee
Employee

Thank you all for your comments.  All of you should have recieved a private message to send me your mailing address to get a free copy of Melinda's book.  If you didn't get my PM, please send your info directly to vzsmallbiz@verizon.net.

 

For more information on the Verizon Author Series visit www.verizon.com/authorseries.

 

Ellen Yu

Verizon Small Business

Contributor eflood84
Contributor

After following @smallbizlady on twitter and learning of her book I'm excited to get a copy and relieve some of the stress I feel from taking over a business in peril. Hopefully there'll be some great tips and I'll be able to "right the ship".

Contributor veezworld
Contributor

This book would be invaluable to me as a new entrepreneur!

About Verizon's Small Business
Get news from Verizon about small business services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon small business group and other experts to help keep your business growing.

         




Contact the editor: tumara.r.jordan@verizon.com

About the Authors

Tumara Jordan

Senior Manager: Verizon Small Business

Photo of Tumara Jordan

Tumara is a contributor to the Small Business Marketing team and she currently manages Social Media marketing campaigns.


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