Anyone who operates in a creative industry will know just how important it is to have a niche. When it comes to art, culture, and entertainment, it seems to make logical sense that everything must fit into a genre or category. However, it’s easy to overlook this when operating in a more traditional world of business or sales. Whether it is a product you sell, a service you provide, or something similar, by going too broad, you risk having a muddled public brand image and alienating potential customers.
Finding your niche will not only allow you to build a more solid business model, but it will help you to continually grow and develop your business based on your strengths. After all, consumers often have very specific problems or needs and you want to be that very specific solution.
Once you find your niche, you can start fine-tuning your brand voice to something authoritative, approachable, and recognizable.
Where Do Your Strengths Lie?
The first step to finding your niche is identifying what makes you and your business unique. Ask yourself where your strengths lie and what you can offer that others can’t. By pursuing your organic strengths instead of trying to build a brand in areas that aren’t really your expertise, you can focus on quality rather than the number of services.
Ideally, you want to become people’s go-to when that specific problem or need arises. By building a strong reputation in that area, you can be the company that people make referrals to when others encounter the same issue, i.e., “That exact thing happened to me, and I used this amazing company!” Every business should have a unique selling point and a clear idea of what makes their business different, and then lean heavily into this.
What Problem Do You Solve?
In a recent blog post we wrote about how to find your target audience, we detailed the different stages of customer awareness. These include people who are “problem aware”, meaning they know there is a problem, but have not yet identified a solution. Others may be “solution aware”, meaning they could be aware of your brand, but don’t realize that you offer a solution to that problem. In short, you should identify the specific problem that you can solve that isn’t necessarily widely available from other businesses. By having a specific idea and clear understanding of the niche problem your company exists to solve, this will help you find a niche type of customer. In the long term, it will also help you continually refine and improve your business or service.
How To Identify Your Customers
Finding a niche and coining a brilliant idea may seem like a win to you, but if there are no customers, there’s no future. So finding a niche also means identifying a very specific type of customer, and knowing exactly who that customer is. We outlined how to create your ideal customer avatar in this blog post, which gives you a reference point of who to keep in mind when making important decisions. The process of identifying your customers also includes doing market research and conducting surveys.
Know Your Competition
Industry research is key for you to be able to identify a niche. If you don’t know what others are doing, how can you find a way to do it differently? To conduct simple and affordable competition research, you can: Google similar companies; read reviews and find where their shortcomings are; do SEO keyword research to identify possible gaps; review their social media engagement; survey the target audience.
Is Your Market Saturated Or Open?
If you are reviewing your business model, target audience, and strategy, and suddenly feel overwhelmed with how daunting the prospect of breaking into this market maybe, perhaps you’re thinking too big. Some of the best new breakout business ideas of the last 10 years have been successful because no one else was doing it.
One great example is Bumble creator Whitney Wolfe Herd, who was named as the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire. Everyone was familiar with dating apps, but no one had created one that allowed women to make the first move. The concept took a giant industry and made it into a niche that no one else was doing, and had an extremely specific selling point.
Finding your niche doesn’t necessarily mean trying to discover a completely untouched market. Sometimes it simply means looking at that market and asking what other people aren’t doing. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to try some different search terms and see where there might be an opening.
What Do People Respond To?
In any new business venture, you don’t necessarily need to be crystal clear on what your niche is right away. You should certainly do your best to identify it, but like anything, sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error before you pinpoint the winning idea. Many new companies will go through several iterations of a business model before they land on the final one. And in any numbers game, whether it be sales, views, or bounce rates, businesses will evaluate what is doing well and what is falling short so they can fine-tune things further.
This is especially clear in industries like blogging, YouTube, or podcasting. Creators can see the exact amount of time someone spends on a page or at what exact second they lose interest. This is a powerful tool to help you forensically analyze what people are responding to, and how you can do more of this. This kind of attention to detail should be applied to any kind of industry where numbers can tell you where you can improve.
Think About Financial Longevity
Finding a niche idea may be easier during specific periods of time: seasons, holidays, global events (or pandemics), but your niche idea should also have financial longevity. You should always think about how your idea can be sustainable and successful in the long run. The pandemic saw a display of unprecedented innovation, where companies were able to completely reinvent themselves to keep up with market demands. Having this kind of foresight and pragmatic attitude will ensure that your brand can continue to grow, evolve, and adapt where necessary when niche markets undergo change.
Why You Need A Friendly Brand Voice
When you have landed on your specific niche, it’s time to think about your brand voice. Brand voice has never been more important in the age of social media. Companies now have a direct way to interact with customers and prospective buyers. Not only do they have a public platform to create a brand voice that matches their values and beliefs, but they have a responsibility to interact with and support their community. Having a likable brand voice is essential to building a good reputation in the public eye.
How To Decide On A Brand Voice
A company’s online presence can come to define them even more than their service. Everyone knows that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is openly political; Pretty Little Thing is everyone’s best friend on Instagram; Wendy’s earned a reputation for starting sarcastic “beef” online (pun very much intended) with other Twitter users. Not every brand wants to make a statement this strong, but it’s important that your brand voice matches your business and is tone appropriate. If you have a fun idea that appeals to young people, there’s no reason you can’t have fun with your brand voice. However, if your business falls into a more serious or sensitive subject matter, your approach is going to be markedly different. If you are struggling with identifying a consistent voice, consider hiring a publicist that can help you strategize.
How To Refine Your Brand Voice
The easiest way to create a clear guide of your brand voice is to make a brand voice chart. This ensures that everyone on your team stays consistent with your established brand voice, and customers also feel like they are dealing with the same team in every communication. In your brand voice chart, you should outline: key characters, what they mean, and what this should and shouldn’t look like in the public eye. For example, if your identified characteristic is supportive, that means making sure customers feel like their needs are heard and understood. As a result, to be consistent with this language, rather than respond to a complaint with a generic “Thank you for your inquiry, we will get back to you in 1-2 working days”, instead it would read something more like: “We’re so sorry to hear you have experienced problems, we will endeavor to rectify this for you as soon as possible.” Each response is professional, but one certainly comes off as more personable than the other.
Learn From Your Interactions
Once you are working with a niche and find a specific brand voice, every customer or social interaction is an opportunity to learn. You will quickly start to take note of how well people respond to certain language and strategies, which provides the perfect opportunity for you to fine-tune your strategy and become even more confident in your brand identity. It will take time, but when you land on the right approach, the value of your niche and an identifiable brand voice will prove its worth.
Looking to hire a publicist? Find out how Otter PR can help you identify your niche and find your brand voice by booking a free consultation today.