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Starting a successful niche business relies heavily on gut feel and finding your why. But it also includes some basic evaluations to ensure you’re left with a business that is lucrative, while staying true to your passion.
Brodie Meyer – founder of adult shop Desir Intimate Collections – shares valuable tips on how to market a niche business or product.
So, is there a formula?
“In our business, we had to carefully consider Desir’s long-term goal – where we wanted to see ourselves in five years,” says Brodie. “This ensured we built something that was both meaningful and sustainable, not simply a one-hit wonder.” Here, seven critical things to consider or include in your strategy if you want to do the same…
Understand your skills…
Brodie and her team considered their skill sets and how they could use their strengths to ensure the continuous evolution and growth of the brand.
“By understanding what we were good at, we were able to identify and build a business strategy that felt effortless and formed the backbone of the business. This ensured results were tangible, KPIs were relevant and our successes (or opportunities) measurable, and we were able to put the business and its growth as our number one priority, without having to worry about whether or not we could achieve the necessary results due to our own inadequacies,” she says.
Solidify your brand strategy
Having a great idea is simply not enough to guarantee success. “Understanding the landscape of your target market, the retail climate, your competition and the commercial intent are imperative to evolving an idea from that of a ‘hobby’ to that of a lucrative business model,” says Brodie. So, that means you need to…
1/ Spend time analysing the landscape. With the majority of businesses now operating on an online platform (whether it’s social media, online stores or digital media), gaining knowledge and info pertaining to customer’s wants and needs has never been easier.
2/ Understand who your target market is, where you’d like to position your brand and what type of online presence or voice would resonate with your potential audience.
3/ Also consider challenges or ‘road-blocks’ you could encounter along the way. Thinking ahead and understanding the potential pitfalls will go a long way in saving time and money in establishing yourself as a key player in the market.
You’ve figured out your niche, now how do you market the biz online?
When it comes to marketing online, it’s critical to set yourself apart from your competitors and focus on aggressively integrating your brand into an already saturated market.
“By identifying your USPs (unique selling points) that set you apart from the rest of the players in the market – whether this is overnight delivery, keen price points, free gifting, or value-added products – you are able to shout about service deliverables that matter to your consumer and will make your brand stand out in comparison to your competitors,” says Brodie.
An online presence is vital – here’s what you need to know…
1/ Online presence is critical in generating enough ‘foot traffic’ to your business and should be a continuous and deliberate effort. “Tightening up your SEO (search engine optimisation) and Google Adwords campaigns will ensure your business appears online when it needs to, and that you receive quality traffic to your store,” says Brodie.
2/ Social media presence, blogs and engaging and collaborating with reputable and like-minded businesses and brands all contribute to creating an online presence for your brand and should (more so than ever before) contribute to a large portion of your marketing spend.
3/ Align yourself with credible brands and people who can help to leverage your brand to where you need it to be, forming long-lasting and mutually-beneficial relationships. “While this may feel like a burden on your pocket initially, a consistent and steady presence in the marketplace, with credible partnerships, will pay dividends in the long run and contribute directly to customer retention and conversions,” says Brodie.
4/ Niche segments generally promise high-engaging, high-converting audiences where customers know what they’re looking for. It’s imperative to talk to the right audience in the right voice at the right time to ensure customer retention. “Creating high-quality content on your website allows for customer engagement, sharing of knowledge and brand building. Use this to your advantage by understanding what your consumers are looking for, and tap into this to drive interest, to allow you to get to know your customer better and understand what they value,” she adds.
Share your business story with potential investors
Brodie has come to learn that the most important part of her business is not the commodity or the profits. “By selling yourself first and foremost and demonstrating your ability to lead, strategise and execute directives, you build trust and confidence in convincing your prospective investor that you are able to, and are committed to, driving the future success of the business,” she says.
Combine the story of your business, your passion for what you do and your skill sets and previous experiences with your knowledge of the industry, the current players in the market, the potential opportunities in the current landscape, your target market, the pressure points and the likely pitfalls. “Include your accomplishments to date and cover the traction you have already made in setting up your brand/business,” says Brodie.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Make sure you have a thorough, well thought-through business plan. Don’t be afraid to ask for help on this part, since this can make or break a deal with, say, an investor.
1/ Know what your five-year plan looks like, be realistic with your goals and present a strategically thought-through roll-out plan and revenue model.
2/ Ultimately, the investor needs to ensure they receive a return on their investment with an understanding of the potential risks involved. Your revenue model should be realistic and depict the potential losses – don’t overshoot or be overly ambitious.
3/ A conservative approach to turnover goals with a realistic view on how to achieve these is far easier to accomplish than constantly chasing unrealistic targets.
4/ Remember that investors invest in people first and ideas second. Talk about your team, your support system, your supply chain and your contacts in the industry who will help you achieve your goals. Very few successful brands are based on a stand-alone strategy.
And, finally, always keep your focus on the customer experience
“Challenges like lead times, imports and faulty products make maintaining a satisfying customer experience challenging and depend largely on our highly skilled client concierge personnel, who are able to manage customer expectations sufficiently, while still preserving customer retention.
“A niche business and specific niche products make the customer relationship somewhat complex, as we are now in a consumer environment that has become used to instant gratification and averse to delays,” says Brodie.
With e-commerce pushing the limits on exceptionally fast turn-around times and consumer-focussed USPs, niche commodities certainly feel the pressure when it comes to satisfying consumer demands.
But working in a niche business in a customer-centric environment forces you to have an out-of-the-box approach to solving customer’s problems. Each customer is unique with their own requirements, thresholds, sensitivities and expectations.
“This has forced our team to be open-minded, adaptable, resilient and empathic in our approach to maintaining high business standards and results, whilst dealing with customers in the most professional manner,” says Brodie.