Find Your Niche, Build Your Brand

A niche is a place where you find comfort. It could be a job, a club, a team. It is the place you feel most comfortable being yourself and where you are happiest. Finding a niche gives you purpose and meaning. But can this be applied to a business?

Finding Your Strengths

The first thing a small business should do when finding their niche is to assess its strengths.

Before a player picks their position on a basketball team, they see what their strengths are. If they decide they can handle the ball well and have good court vision, they can play point guard. If they are tall and can post up, they play center. To be sure that a player’s effectiveness is being maximized, the coach assesses their strength and places them in the role that utilizes their strengths.

Business is no different. The market is the team and each business is a player. Teams work the best when each player finds their role and plays it. If players try to take on too much or slack off, they do not maximize their productivity. Businesses must assess themselves honestly so they can know what role they are able to play in their market.

Identifying your strengths allows you to find your place in the market by matching your strengths to the customer’s need.

Finding A Need

Every marketer has heard Henry Ford’s quote about a faster horse, but it’s still all too common for marketers to try to be the fastest horse. Instead of innovating in a way that answers customers’ needs in a way they never imagined, businesses too often offer consumers what they say that want with a little different marketing.

Small businesses are especially susceptible to this mentality because they don’t always have the capital to invest into research and development. But it doesn’t require a big budget and years of development to listen to customers. Instead of finding a way to deliver what they say they want, listen to their need and find the best way to fulfill it.

A great example of this is Blue Apron. Instead of listening to people complain about having to eat out because they don’t have time to cook, they realized that people don’t have time to go to the store and find recipes. So, instead of another cook book or a generic grocery delivery, they created recipes and prepackaged groceries that are ready to cook in 30 minutes. This allows people to eat a home-cooked meal and avoid the hassle at a reasonable price.

This is possible for any small business as well. As long as businesses listen to the entirety of what their customers, or just the public in general, really need, they can find innovative ways to fulfill the needs. But once the product is created, businesses need a way to communicate the value of their product or no one will find it useful.

Finding Your Value Proposition

The best artists throughout history are not remembered simply for what they experienced or felt. They are remembered for the way they communicated their message. Poe was able to put fear into words on a page. Van Gogh was able to capture beauty and translate it to canvas. Santana can make a guitar sing you a love song or break your heart.

The point is, its not what these people had to say as much as it was how they said it. Most people can find value in a good or service, but few can effectively communicate the value a product offers. It is a marketer’s job to convey value to the consumer. It can be hard for small businesses to craft a message and find the most effective channels to communicate their value. The internet has opened the door for many new means of marketing communication, but having a consistent voice on the web is crucial for small businesses.

If a business has assessed its strengths honestly and identified a need that allows them to leverage their strengths, it should be much easier to communicate their value. Since the product is in line with their strengths and is designed specifically for a need they identified, they are an expert on what they offer. They should be comfortable in their niche, which lets them be confident in their communication of their brand.

Summary

Thanks to the internet, small businesses have the means of reaching clients all around the world. This prospect can be overwhelming, but with the right understanding of your customer, a unique product and value proposition, and an effective way of communicating that value proposition, a small business can make a big impact. That’s what it means to “Find your niche. Build your brand.”

As Far As The Eye Can See… And Beyond

Background

For most of the history of commerce, merchants have been limited by their geography. Sure there were trade routes and other methods of expanding beyond one’s small town, but most businesses’ customers came from the area the owner could see from the roof of his shop. This was true until the Industrial Revolution, which brought rapid change to industries across the board and sparked a period of increasingly rapid innovation which continues today.

Then came the railroads, and the area grew. Next came the highways, and the area grew more. Finally there was the internet, and suddenly that area covered the whole globe.

Once this happened, it opened the floodgates to business owners around the world to tap into markets in each corner of the globe. Businesses were finally able to reach customers worldwide, and the ability to deliver these products was instantaneous. E-commerce grew out of this quickly as the ability to ship goods worldwide became cheaper and quicker.

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However, this was often too expensive for most small businesses to make considerable money. Until the ability to build an E-commerce store and ship products worldwide became feasible for the mom and pop businesses, it was a competitive advantage for the large companies.

Now, it is not only possible for a small business to build and maintain a website as well as ship their products, it is far easier and cheaper. As more and more people discover this, it is more important than ever for the the small business to differentiate himself.

Back when the shop keeper could sell only to his town, he might have sign out front and an ad in the paper and church bulletin to reach his audience. Now, the sign out front is SEO and the local paper is Facebook.

So how can businesses adapt?

To grow a company, a business needs new customers. To find new customers, a business needs to reach them in a meaningful way. Content marketing is going to be the primary driver of traffic for any business soon, if it is not already.

By creating content that people who may be interested in your product consume, you begin to create associations with that customer. The more they follow your content, the more likely they are to turn to you to solve their problem when they encounter one.

What does this look like?

It could be a mechanic who makes videos about how to change oil and other basic upkeep functions on his website. He writes blogs and reviews about the auto industry as well, so when people in his area need service they turn to him. Also, he has in depth content that he provides behind a paywall on his website for those who aren’t in his area.

It is a farmer who writes articles about his industry. He creates gardening videos on his YouTube channel. He has a farmers’ market map on his website that allows people to find farmers’ markets near them and discuss them in a forum.

It is businesses that distribute content to potential customers. They create a reason to be on their site over a competitor’s sure to the content and extra services they provide for free. Their site allows nearby customers to buy from them, E-commerce if possible, and industry-related content and support behind a paywall.

With almost everyone in the world having access to the internet, businesses can expand their reach further than ever. There are also more businesses trying to reach people than ever before. That means companies must stand out, and small businesses must take the time to differentiate themselves on the internet, pulling in the sales one piece of content at a time.