The key to marketing a small business is to reach out to pockets of the market that aren’t being well served by the big players.
These pockets, also known as niche markets, want to feel like they are buying from a company that cares about them. They want to buy from a company that understand their unique needs. And, they are often dissatisfied with what is currently available and ready to switch.
Secret #1: Focus on the few, not the many
As a smaller business, you really can’t compete against the big names in your industry on a dollar for dollar level. But when you market to the many, that is exactly what you are doing.
The big players in your industry are the safe choice for the average consumer. Your customer has seen them on TV, heard their ads on the radio, and as a result they trust them more than you.
Target marketing and niche marketing is all about finding those pockets of customers that aren’t being well served by the big players, and providing them with an offer that serves their unique needs better than the big guys.
Secret #2: Connect with your niche markets using multiple contact points
Once you’ve identified a niche market, you first have to start a dialogue with them.
The good news is that this is cheaper and easier than ever. The answer is social media.
Start a Twitter account dedicated exclusively to the needs of your niche market. Start a group on LinkedIn that will appeal to them. Make a Facebook page about the topics that niche finds important. Start a blog dedicated exclusively to the needs of that niche. Write a short ebook on a topic that niche will find important. Write a press release that talks about how your company specializes in something that niche will find valuable. And in the offline world, start going to events your niche market will be attending (or host one!) and ask your new contacts to follow you on your online channels.
You aren’t trying to make a sale yet, but rather trying to get people in that niche to listen to you in one form or another. The selling comes next.
Secret #3: Show that you understand the needs of people from your niche better than competitors
If you are in the fast food market, you will want to show that your business offers fast, convenience, healthy choices for people who hate having to eat out at unhealthy fast food joints.
But how do you do that? You use your new found communication channels to begin building up your image. You post links to healthy recipes regularly, link to studies about the negative health effects of fast food, post the calorie counts and health benefits of some of your menu items, and talk about new healthy choices you are offering.
As time goes on, you’ll gradually become the healthy fast food joint. Your followers will see your posts about how fast food should be healthy, and they’ll associate you as the logical choice.
Secret #4: Become a trusted guru in your niche
The goal of secret #3 is to educate your niche about what you specialize in. But you want to take it further than this… You want to become a trusted guru in your industry -- the person people come to with their questions and concerns.
This is quite easy. You simply need to give away the odd “secret”. Give out the occasional tip to your followers. Our healthy fast food restaurant could offer the odd weight loss tip.
You also want to talk about work you are doing for your clients. Our healthy fast food restaurant could talk about catering gigs they are doing, and what type of foods they will be serving at them.
Secret #5: Get to know your niche
Social media is a two-way communication channel, not a one-way channel. It is important to get to know your followers.
What kind of people are they? What events do they go to? Where else do they shop? What type of news are they interested in?
The answers to these questions will reveal places you can advertise where you can find more people in your niche.
Instead of one-way communication, try engaging your followers from time to time. Ask them questions or run a contest with a small prize.
Secret #6: Use the few to reach the many
Once you’ve established yourself as a trusted guru in your niche, you can now start to think about ways to use your loyal followers to reach the many through referral marketing.
Regularly release content your followers are likely to share with people they know. Sometimes the best way to do this is to simply suggest that they share it – “Please share this with your friends and family”.
You could also devise small marketing campaigns designed to encourage people to share your content.
The healthy fast food restaurant could e-mail a coupon to all of their followers which is exclusively for them, and anybody they share it with.
Another idea is a refer-a-friend promotion or referral challenge. Here you offer some type of incentive to your followers to send you new customers.
You could also try the humor angle by sharing a funny picture or story. People love to share things that are funny.
Once you have a base of followers, start concentrating on things you could post that will get your followers to refer their friends, family, and coworkers.