Big Picture

Navigating the Right Niche Marketing Strategy

Cara A. Sloman, Executive Vice President at Nadel Phelan, Inc

One of the most foundational elements of a successful marketing strategy is reaching your target audience – and this becomes extra challenging when you have a niche offering.  The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines a niche B2B market as “a clearly defined segment of the market. It is about satisfying a specific customer need that is, in general, not covered by any major competitors.” Choosing a niche gives your business a competitive edge. If you try to launch your offering in a crowded product category or market, you’ll likely face an uphill battle against the established competition. Focusing on a niche helps you compete by homing in on a specific market or segment of the market.

Carving out a niche market and positioning yourself as the go-to brand for a specific audience not only establishes your credibility over competing generalists but also results in a more focused business. With your unique value proposition, focusing on a niche market makes it easier for the right customers to say, “Yes! This is the best solution for our business needs.”

Common challenges and mistakes

Niche marketing presents a unique set of challenges:

  • A limited pool of customers or prospects
  • A smaller number of opportunities, ultimately
  • Breaking through the noise to ensure your message is heard

With a small number of potential customers, there will be a limited number of opportunities with those prospects. Each opportunity is potentially more important in niche markets than in mass markets. Once a customer is secured, long-term retention of that customer is vital to success – and customer experience/success is paramount in retention and expansion.

Competing for share of voice, mindshare and ultimately market share is a constant challenge. In the battle to raise potential customer awareness, ensuring your message is heard is a problem for niche markets. You may encounter bigger competitors with bigger marketing budgets that supply a full system or solution where your niche products or services are only a part of an overall whole.

Targeting your niche

How can organizations craft a marketing plan that simultaneously targets those who are experts and those with little knowledge about their product or field? Start with understanding what your company offers, who needs that product or service and why they need it – what makes your product or service unique and how the competition is not addressing that need within your niche.

With the above in place, it is possible to identify the potential customers for your product or service. Check that the total volume of proposed target customers has the potential to deliver enough business to make the niche viable.

When it’s time to actually market your product, remember to home in on your specific audience’s pain points and business needs. What makes this niche market different from the broader market, and how can you appeal specifically to the wants, needs and preferences of your target personas?

Differentiating your niche products

Research and understand the trends shaping your market and the specific customer pain points that are not being adequately addressed by existing solutions. Solicit feedback from industry analysts, influencers and potential customers through focus groups, and ask them what they think.

It’s important to get feedback early on, especially if you’re developing a new product, so you can fully understand the market need and hone your solution and go-to-market strategy. Who are the targeted personas? Where do they get their information?

A strategic B2B PR plan incorporates all these elements, along with the essential tactics and success metrics to know if you are reaching the right audiences and whether it is making the impact you want.

Creating a sound PR and marketing strategy

PR is essential when it comes to the development of targeted messaging, conducting message testing based on your unique value proposition and communicating the value proposition to the right market via the right tactics at the right time to cut through the noise.

To maximize the potential for success in a niche market, it is important to both increase the number of prospects and  touch points through outbound and inbound marketing. An important step in this process is to create a content strategy for inbound leads. Customers and prospects want to see content that shows you understand their business and their challenges. This means you’ll want to create content that addresses the needs and desires of each of your target markets, including vertical markets.

This includes using customer success stories and other types of content. Press releases, case studies and joint speaking opportunities are three powerful opportunities to leverage the success you’ve already had with customers to bring in new customers.

People typically start their search for helpful resources with a search engine, so make sure your content strategy is tightly tied to your Google Ad strategy. Making sure SEO keywords get included in your content significantly helps to direct organic traffic to your company’s website.

It’s also essential to coordinate sales and marketing efforts. Constant interaction, collaboration and tracking of results with respect to measurable metrics will ensure each department is motivated to focus on the outcomes and how they jointly plan to achieve them. Google Analytics is a useful tool to help keep track of your metrics, which will give you greater insight into where customers find you, which external channels are driving traffic and what content is most meaningful to your target audiences.

Success for your niche products

Specializing in one market niche can yield greater results than a scatter-shot approach. No matter how good your product is, it can never be all things to all prospects. When you find your target audiences, make sure your product gets the attention it deserves by implementing a niche market strategy that incorporates the best practices noted above. With consistent and coordinated effort, you’re sure to see PR ROI and increased market share.

Written by Cara A. Sloman.

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Cara A. Sloman
Cara A. Sloman, executive vice president, Nadel Phelan Inc.. Ms. Sloman has helped shape Nadel Phelan's brand, services and reputation for quality and results. Responsible for client strategy, while building and managing solid account teams that deliver results, Ms. Sloman has worked with market leaders to set industry agenda, establish thought leadership, build new categories, launch companies and navigate PR obstacles.

When I’m not at work, you can find me
On the trails with my noble steed or working in the garden.

Current philosophy
The future is whatever we decide to make it. Inspiration is to live every moment to its fullest, breathe deeply and keep going!

Cara A. Sloman is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.