Business owners and solopreneurs ask me about the difference between mass marketing and niche marketing all the time. “Should I niche down?” and “What are the different ways I can niche?”
My advice is that yes – you should pick a niche for your business. Niche marketing (or marketing to a specific niche) is a powerful way to magnetise your message and becoming irresistible to your ideal clients. And if you choose not to niche, your business might suffer from limited growth.
So let’s explore the topic of mass marketing and niche marketing in more detail.
Should you choose niche marketing over mass marketing?
The message you put out with your daily, weekly, and monthly marketing activities is either attracting or repelling your target customers. It’s either increasing your opportunities to sell to your potential audience or not.
And one of the biggest reasons why a lot of small businesses like yours feel ‘invisible’ to their target audience is that the message they’re putting out there is not consistent. You need to talk directly to the needs of the group of people you want to attract – your ideal clients. And the fact you can do just that is one of the greatest advantages of niching down.
When you choose a niche for your business, you address a specific niche segment. This becomes your target audience, and they can be identified by a common problem or challenge or a specific need. By creating a marketing strategy that is based on niching, you are specific about the people you serve and the problem(s) you solve. And because of this, you are able to develop more compelling marketing materials and choose a more effective type of marketing.
What happens if you don’t niche?
When you don’t niche (and choose mass marketing over niche marketing), you are a generalist. When you’re not talking to a smaller segment of your audience – to a specific type of person – your marketing message gets lost in a generic conversation. It doesn’t ‘speak’ to your audience. And therefore your marketing is not very compelling.
Of course, niching down can be overwhelming and scary. I experienced that fear too for a while. It is only natural to wonder whether you will lose clients if you choose targeted marketing over mass marketing. But I experienced exactly the opposite. The more I started to niche and narrow my focus, the clearer I became on the problem I solve and on the segment of the market I serve. And, as a result, I started to attract more and more clients.
How niching down works
When you can talk about a specific kind of people and the specific challenges they experience, they recognise themselves in the message you share. You start to build rapport and connection, and eventually, brand loyalty. People are more likely to buy from you because they start to know, like, and trust you. They feel you’re talking directly to them.
The more you niche – the more specific you are about the problem you solve and who your product or service is for – the more people resonate with your message. You become relevant to them. That’s why having a niche is important.
How deep should you niche?
Another question I get often asked is, “How deep should I niche?”
The truth is that there is more than one way to niche. If you fear you might lose clients if you become too specific in your offering, it might be helpful to understand the difference between vertical niching and horizontal niching.
The first question I’d encourage you to ask yourself is this. Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond (i.e. a small niche), or do you want to be one of many fish in a bigger pond (i.e. a larger market)? There’s no wrong answer here. But I believe it’s easier to stand out and become influential in the eyes of your prospective clients if you are a bigger fish in a smaller pond. And (you guessed it) the small pond is indeed a specific niche.
So let’s look at these two different concepts to give you a better idea as to what direction you should be taking in your business.
A vertical niche is a niche within a niche. If you look at the main niche as being ‘entrepreneurs’, for example, you can then qualify those entrepreneurs and carve out a niche within a niche.
For example, my niche is quite specific. It’s service-based female entrepreneurs who built their business around their expertise and have a process they teach others inside that niche. I went quite deep with my niching. I work with people who are passionate about what they do but have an offering that is not currently performing the way they want. They are not start-ups – they have some experience and want to elevate their business. My business is a typical example of a niche within a niche.
Horizontal niching covers a range of industries. For example, you could have a solution that solves a specific problem (and that’s your niche). But that problem is experienced by a range of different types of people across industries.
For example, you could be an expert on the CRM system MailChimp. You solve a specific problem for business owners by helping people deliver emails, design campaigns, manage contacts, and analyse their data. But in this case, you are not choosing to limit yourself and work with a specific type of entrepreneur. When you choose to help anyone who uses MailChimp in their business, you might work with people across various industries. So you are niching on the solution, rather than the target market. Horizontal niching solves a specific problem.
How to choose vertical AND horizontal niching
Do you want to go deeper? Then you can double down and have both – vertical and horizontal niching.
If we go back to the MailChimp example, you could actually decide that you don’t want to work across all industries. Perhaps you want to work with accountants only. Or dentists. When you choose a specific problem and a specific industry, you become an expert at understanding and anticipating your clients’ needs. And that’s exactly what people come to you for. Over time, you will become the go-to person for anyone wanting to make the most of MailChimp in that particular industry. Your offering makes you stand out. And that’s one of the great advantages of niching down.
Is it time to review your niche?
You might now be wondering whether it’s time to look at your niche. If this resonates, here are a couple of signs to help you decide whether your niche is right for you at the moment.
1. You’re not getting the sales
If you’re following various marketing strategies (you’re visible to your ideal clients, but you’re not getting the sales), then you might want to take another look at your niche. It could be that you’re not aiming your message to the right people. Or that the solution you are focusing your messaging on is not targeted enough. Either your ideal clients are not getting the value proposition they’re after or they can’t recognise themselves and their needs in your message.
2. People don’t get what you do
Another sign that you might need to reconsider your niche or go a little deeper is that people don’t understand what you do. You want to make your ideal clients think, “I need that. And I need that right now!”
When this doesn’t happen, it’s perhaps because your market is too broad. Or because you haven’t yet worked out how to use a language that speaks directly to the people you want to serve. You’re passionate about what you do, but don’t know what words and phrases to use that will hit home – strike a chord with your audience. I can totally relate to this as I struggled with this myself, for a long time.
Having the right mindset when niching down
The last piece of advice I would like to share with you is around mindset. I resisted niching for a long time, and I know that a lot of people I work with can also take time to come to terms with the idea of niching. The fear of losing clients when you niche down is very common and completely natural.
And I’m not saying there won’t be people who decide not to work with you because the language you use doesn’t resonate with them or the positioning of your offer is not right for them. This might indeed happen.
But the quality of the clients you will gain as a result of niching will improve. You will get clients who absolutely understand and recognise that you are the expert in your field. When you find your Zone of Genius and make that your niche, people start to recognise your value and will want to line up to work with you. They will want access to your specific knowledge and expertise. So my advice is to pick a niche and go and conquer it – be the best person in your space. Aim to offer the best solution for your ideal clients’ problems.
It might be slow at first. And I like to use the snowball analogy here. When you start out, progress can be small. But when that ball starts to roll down that hill and pick up momentum, it becomes bigger and bigger. It carries more power. And it’s the same for your business. It will take hard work, commitment, and perseverance at first. But if you stick with it and carry on, you will see that the snowball rolls on its own accord.
Niching down is the same. When you decide on your niche, focus on creating the right message and the right offerings and on standing out in a crowded market. You will soon see that niching down pays off. And when it does, the right clients will come to you.
Would you like some to pick a niche?
So, do you feel clearer about the difference between mass marketing and niche marketing? Have you picked your niche? And has this changed your mind or reassured you about niching down? Have you been getting some great traction as a result of narrowing down what problem you solve and who for? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.
And if you haven’t niched down yet, or would like some support in identifying or reviewing your business niche, I can help. Why not get in touch to book a FREE 30-minute consultation where we can discuss how I can help you?