Today’s post is by Barbara Grassey, writer extraordinaire and good friend of mine! Her niche marketing tips are SUPERB and her marketing knowledge rivals mine (not sure I can say that about too many peeps!)
I spent my first five years of internet marketing trying to dominate my market place. World domination was my goal and I hit seminars, webinars, teleseminars, read books, went on forums, got mentors, bought courses and software and did everything I could to conquer the internet. My findings: The internet is REALLY, REALLY BIG.
After beating my head against the world wide wall, I finally knocked some sense into it. I woke up one day and realized I didn’t need to dominate the internet. I didn’t even need to dominate my niche. In fact, I barely needed to market.
I run a “boutique” business. No, I don’t run a boutique. A boutique business is one where the clients are high end and very, very niche. I don’t need to market to the masses and in fact there are no masses to market to. I can get by with as few as eight clients a year, though I shoot for 12. I usually have one or two repeat clients a year. Almost all of my clients are referred to me.
I would love to tell you that this happened through clever strategizing on my part. I wish I could say that I purposely built up a referral business. Of course I didn’t. It happened partially through luck and partially because I do good work that I charge a lot of money for. I have very little overhead (internet fees, coffee, single malt scotch, chocolate — not necessarily in that order) and mostly sit on my sofa in shorts and a t-shirt. I seldom actually meet with a client. It’s all done by email and a few phone calls. I still have to work – it’s not passive income. But I don’t have to spend a lot to do what I do.
Once I realized how small my true target market was I stopped killing myself trying to dominate the marketplace. My target demographic is less than 10,000 people. OK. Maybe a few more than that, but I am not interested in finding ALL of them. I only need a dozen a year and there are new people entering the marketplace every year.
While this may be very nice for me, how does this information help you? It may not. But it very well might. When I worked with marketing clients (back when I was trying to be all things to all people), I always started them out with an exercise to find their target demographic. It starts with finding their ideal/best client. For me, my ideal/best client is a busy speaker who needs a manual and doesn’t hesitate to pay big money for it. I especially prefer clients who don’t like to read. But that’s my bias. Sometimes your client base is geographic or a certain ethnic group or age range. You need to know who you are targeting before you do anything else. That exercise alone should start focusing your marketing efforts.
Once you figure out who your ideal client is (and that client is ALWAYS someone who willingly pays for your services), you need to determine if they can be reached easily. If your target market is difficult to reach, you’re always going to be struggling – spending too much time and money to bring clients into your business. So, if your target market is hard to reach, can you narrow or widen your target to a more easily reached demographic?
As an example, let’s say you run a pool service. Your target market is anyone with a pool within a certain geographic area. You can run ads in the local paper and gradually build up a cliental of 50 or 100 homes at a moderate monthly fee. That would be a pretty good business at $75 a month. But, could you build your business faster if you bought a mailing list of people who owned pools? (Yes, of course. There’s a list for that. There’s a list for just about everything!) What if you targeted pool owners in one or two upscale subdivisions? Now you can charge the same or maybe more (“Elite Pool Service”) and you are no longer driving all over hell and creation to service your accounts, cutting your overhead. What if you targeted commercial pools – hotels, condo associations, etc. You can charge more for that service, have fewer clients and cut your costs even more.
The point is, you probably don’t have to be or want to be the largest pool service in the world. You just want to carve out a customer base that provides a steady income, that you can expand at will and maybe one day sell your business at a nice profit.
The third component is to charge enough money to compensate you for your hard work and cover your overhead. Too many businesses are afraid to charge what they are worth and this results in constant cash flow problems. It eventually leads to owner burnout. What you charge is a marketing tool. It helps define your customer. It weeds out people who can’t afford you, and people who can’t afford to pay you are very bad clients. It establishes a higher level of credibility and confidence which is incredibly dumb, I know, but it does. “He must be good – look how much he’s charging!”
Take a look at your business and spend some time determining just how many clients you need on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. How many do you need if you raise your prices? Then determine if there is an easily targeted subset of your market that you can go after. You may find that you can have more clients, money and time by limiting your market rather than dominating it.
My pal Barbara Grassey is super funny (no, seriously, she used to be comedian!) PLUS an amazing ghost writer of manuals for speakers. I LOVE her style and look forward to every word!!!