Often, sales people ask me why they have such a difficult time prospecting for new business and closing deals. Immediately, the first questions I ask them is, “who are you targeting?” When I hear answers that include words such as “anyone who,” I immediately know that we are heading into the treacherous waters of a conversation about targeted marketing.
This conversation is frequently avoided by sales people, because when you suggest to a struggling business owner or sales person that they need to narrow their market, it feels limiting and frightening. If they can’t make a sale now, how will they ever close business by marketing to fewer people? It is a daunting prospect to tell those who are struggling that they must not go anywhere to do a deal, but must rather find and focus on smaller niche.
Having spoken to countless sales people on this particular topic and received enormous resistance from most of them, I now begin the conversation with, “we are going to create a formula that can be duplicated, will increase sales and enable you to market to as many people as you like!” How exciting is that? Certainly, it’s not the most important aspect of this conversation, but it sure makes them feel better!
So why niche and why target?
More effective networking: During our company sales meetings, instead of being vague about what we were selling we did an exercise called the Reciprocity Circle. Instead of exchanging leads as we did each week, we each stood up and asked for a very specific and detailed lead. Things like, “I would like a connection to the Property Manager at X Company” or “Do you know of a company that has recently unlocked cash and is looking for a game farm in Bela-Bela?” That week, we went from an average of 15 exchanged leads to over 100!
When you know exactly who your audience is and can be extremely specific, it opens the minds of your networking partners and makes their job of referring people to you much easier. They will be excited about passing these leads to you because you are doing most of the work by ‘reminding’ them of the people they know, who are ideal customers and connections for you. When you use words like, ‘anyone who’ the brain immediately shuts down. It’s hard work to go through your entire mental database to find that one, specific ‘someone’.
More effective marketing: If I come to your website and it tells me all about YOU, I’m probably going to leave quickly. Sure, I want to know about you or your product, but first I want to know that you understand my problems and needs. If I am going to be your customer, it needs to be all about me!
But how can you talk about me if you don’t know me?
Isolating your target market is just the beginning. You must study and know your ideal customers as well as you know yourself. When you position yourself as the expert in a specific niche you will have greater clarity, stop chasing the elusive ‘anyone who’ and your world will become a much less confusing and stressful place.
So how can you choose just one? Does it limit sales?
Remember that after you master your niche, you may choose another! However, don’t try and develop 2 or 3 simultaneously. Through negative experience, I simply don’t believe in being a ‘Jack of all Trades’. Learn from your shortcomings and virtues and thereafter, develop your second target.
In case you were wondering, niche marketing does not limit sales but is expansive and liberating! You will know precisely what conferences and functions to attend, you will know exactly what to say when someone asks you what you do and the development of marketing materials will be a breeze!
To select your niche begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Of all the people who could use my product or service, who am I most passionate about working with?
- Who do I most closely identify with, understand and even sympathize with?
- Who will benefit the most from my product or service?
- What excites me the most when I sell?
- If I have to devote a substantial amount of time and effort to learning about a particular industry or demographic, which one would I enjoy the most? Which one do I already know the most about?
- If I was speaking to a room filled with reputable business people, and was given the option to either give my product away or work with just one of them, who would I choose? Give your ideal client/customer a name and describe them in great detail.
- Who are the people that give the most positive feedback on my offerings?
Now, identify how you can reach your audience. Optimizing your social media and business web sites are important, but what else? Are there other businesses and organisations that you can align with? What tradeshows, conferences and meetings target your exact audience?
Prepare a signature speech for your new audience and begin contacting organisers and organizations who would welcome you to speak to their audience, which of course happens to be the same as yours.
Become an authority who knows your niche so intricately that you become viewed as the expert and as the spokesperson for your targeted niche. Mostly, enjoy the fact that you are helping more people and attracting the abundance that goes with it!
There is no doubt that today’s world rewards the specialist. People today, want specific expertise and advice from professionals extending across all spheres. The days of the generalist are over and today, it’s about simplicity, targeting and finding a niche. Try it, what have you got to lose!