There’s a trend in marketing that has taken off in the last few years. But unlike most trends that come and go without importance, this one has only grown in necessity!
I know, you’re thinking “But I want people to buy my product/service! Why would I exclude people from my marketing??”
Once Upon A Time...
Marketing from the 1920s through the 70s was all about reaching as much of the market as possible. There was so little competition in each industry that all you had to do was show people you were in that industry and they’d come to your business.
Marketing doesn’t work like that anymore.
Here’s 4 Reasons Why Exclusion is the Marketing Trend that Matters:
#1: The Pond Analogy
Small, startup businesses trying to market to all the same people as international chains are marketing to, is like a baby fish trying to live in the same gigantic pond as a 20 year old catfish. You can’t become a bigger fish by just jumping straight into the bigger pond. You have to slowly work your way there as you grow.
I see this principle at work all the time at the barns where I visit my horse. There’s a pond that has a big stream flowing into it. The pond obviously has all the large fish, but along the stream there are these little eddies that feed into the stream. The eddies are pretty calm, and that’s where you find the tiny baby fish hanging out. As they grow, they move along the eddies, from one to another, until they’re big enough to live in the pond (I. E., big enough to find enough resources to live and avoid immediately getting eaten by bigger fish).
If the baby fish jumped straight from the tiny eddie into the giant pond, they would most likely get eaten up pretty quickly and wouldn’t be able to compete with the bigger fish.
Business owners need to approach marketing the same way. In other words, business owners need to niche down.
The challenge is…
So many small business owners’ immediate response to being told to niche down is “We can’t niche down because we serve everybody!” The issue with this mindset is that it is costing you money. And it prevents you from getting to the place where you’re working with the people you actually want to serve. You must determine who it is you want to serve. Otherwise you’ll be chasing nutrients in a huge pond and unable to keep up with the big fish.
So take the first step toward niching down/exclusion and get clarity on who you want to work with.
Even if it starts as just geographical clarity: going from saying that you serve all plumbers in the USA to saying that you serve all plumbers in the Central Texas area. That’s still a gigantic area, so you’ll have to continue to narrow it down and niche down and exclude people from your marketing plan. To relate it back to the pond analogy, you’re swimming away from the gigantic pond until you reach the size eddie that is right for you at this time.
A Quick Caveat:
This doesn’t mean you can’t expand later on in your business! What it does mean is that you need to have your marketing fit your current company size.
#2: Audience Attention Shrinks
When your marketing demographic is smaller, it’s easier to get people’s attention.
The more local and direct you are with your marketing, the more likely people are to notice you.
Think about it this way…
There are a thousand national brands clamoring for people’s attention, and a thousand companies in your industry that are out there “for everyone.” They’re all saying “We want to work with everyone for any reason at all!” It’s overwhelming, and often gets ignored.
But as soon as you narrow your focus and say “We specialize in cashflow management advice for plumbers in the San Antonio Area”, you’re speaking to a specific number of people who identify with part of your message (San Antonio plumbers with cashflow issues). And because you’re speaking to their identity, they’re more likely to notice you.
In other words, your audience goes from listening to 500 voices on the subject, to only 2 or 3 (of which you are one!).
#3: Conversion is Easier
Unless forced, overwhelmed individuals won’t make a buying decision. And when people have 500 choices to choose from, they become overwhelmed.
Marketing at a niche level helps people realize that there really are only a few companies that work best with their life. And when you shrink the number of voices they have to listen to down to just you and one or two other companies, it’s a thousand times easier to make a decision. You remove the overwhelm and cut through the clamor with a laser-beam that points directly at your potential clients and helps them buy more easily.
#4: Charge More!
If nothing else, this reason is worth niching down for!
When you’re the exclusive person serving an exclusive demographic, you automatically become a more sought-after product/service. You become the person everyone trusts and wants to buy from. You’re bringing a level of expertise to the table that they won’t get with a national chain. Instead of having to deal with all the intricacies of adapting a national product/service to fit their industry needs, they’re having you cater a product/service to their needs. You’re taking work out of the equation for them, and you’re an exclusive product that they can’t get anywhere else!
Exclusivity allows you to charge far more than you could charge if you were marketing to everybody. So here’s how to put it into place in your marketing.
Exclusion: The How-To
Step 1: Know Your Core Values
These are the things your company stands on and for, and they heavily impact your marketing!
Actually, they go beyond your paid marketing. The things that you stand up for, stand behind, and openly avoid are the things you will become known for by your demographic. Whether those core values are freedom of the people, integrity in service or humanitarianism. These are the principles you are known for.
The Mask/No-Mask issue in Texas right now. Businesses are now having to take their own stance on masks, because the government isn’t behind their shoulder saying “You must have masks” anymore.
The result? The state has been divided into 3 demographics, with 2 primary demographics.
Demographic #1 says “I won’t visit a restaurant that requires a mask! That’s an imposition on my freedom!”
Demographic #2 says “I won’t visit a restaurant that doesn’t require a mask! That shows neglect for the safety of human beings!”
And Demographic #3, by far the smallest, says “Just give me the food, I don’t care.”
So restaurants are having to evaluate their core values and take a stand on that, because they know they will end up aligning with one demographic or the other.
That’s obviously an intense and political example, but it gets the point across: know your core values so you can promote them and attract other people with the same core-values.
Step 2: Know Who You Love Serving...
And who you don’t!
This step is crucial to growing a business that you love. If Person A walking into your store makes you groan every time, maybe you need to change your demographic and realize that you don’t want to serve people like Person A: it’s time to make it clear that you don’t serve that kind of person.
You don’t have to say “We don’t serve you here!”, it doesn’t have to be aggressive. All you have to say is “We’re not the right provider for you.”
And if Person B walking into your store makes you light up every time, maybe it’s time to analyze what you love about serving Person B and start marketing to those people. Make it clear that this is the kind of person you adore serving, and stick to it!
Let Me Be Clear...
You will get some middle-ground clients. That just happens. But the more you build your business around your ideal client (Check out my blog on ideal clients here), the more ideal clients you will end up with!
Step 3: Document it!
Make sure you have documentation of your ideal demographic and your core values, and check back with it!
Use your marketing document as a gate-keeper for your marketing dollars!
If you’ve got a marketing idea for a Facebook group, that’s great! Write it down and check it against your document. If you can do it in a way that supports your marketing document, go for it! This document will help you stay on-task with your marketing so that you’re (1) not wasting marketing dollars on something that won’t bring the right return, and (2) presenting a unified message with your marketing.
We recently had someone reach out and asked to guest write for Grow Disrupt. Which is fine, it’s great and I love having guest writers on Grow Disrupt, and we actually have a fair number of those articles on the site (and I’d love to get more!). But they have to align with our company and follow certain guidelines.
The person who recently reached out didn’t have a topic along our guidelines. The issue wasn’t that we didn’t want a guest writer, we love them! The issue was that the topic was off-brand. So instead of saying “No,” I told him “We’d love to have you, but that won’t really appeal to our market. Can you try reframing it like this?”
So we kept everything within the marketing document, which provides an unbiased gate-keeper for our marketing that allows us to focus on the more creative aspects of your marketing.
The awesome thing about niche marketing…
Is that it allows you to focus on the really awesome and fun aspects of marketing.
Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, you can create tailor-made marketing assets (like ads, videos, etc.) that are fun to design and easy to check with your marketing plan. Not only does it make your life easier and allow you to charge more, exclusivity makes you the best choice in the market!
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!