Whether it’s your people, products, or processes, you’ve optimized your company to be the best in the business. But you didn’t start your organization to play second fiddle to other providers in your niche. You don’t just want to be the best; you need to completely dominate and own your industry.
Regardless of the number of competitors in your space, we’re sure there are opportunities for your business to increase its standing. All you need is a strategic playbook to help you climb the ladder and become one of the top providers in your industry.
Why do I need to master my niche?
A business niche is a specialized area of a bigger market. For example, beauty might be the larger market, but products for curly hair are a niche within the beauty market.
Your goal is to find a segment of the market that you can fill with your product or service. That allows you to cater to an underserved area, which can help you compete with bigger, better-funded competitors.
It’s hard to feel like you’re limiting yourself to only a handful of opportunities, but owning a specific niche first will help you:
- Avoid saturated markets: When you categorize and tackle one problem with your business solution, consumers don’t have as many reasons to choose established brands over your business. This way, you stand a better chance of success.
- Find loyal shoppers: Shoppers tend to be much more loyal to niche brands than big-name brands. If you cater to a need that shoppers have asked big companies to solve, you can find loyal customers more quickly.
- Circumvent the competition: Competitors are stealing customers from you. A niche marketing strategy can help you find an area with less competition, which will help you gain a foothold more quickly.
- Save money: Focus on a specific audience with defined interests so that you can spend less on advertising, events, and promotions by choosing and dominating your niche.
- Demonstrate expertise: Becoming the leader in a specific niche indicates you have specialized expertise that others can’t match. If you want to build a reputation, niching down is the way to go.
- Justify higher pricing: Since you’re catering to a smaller population with a specialized problem, niche businesses can usually justify charging a higher price for their products and services. For example, vegan cruelty-free makeup is a niche product that’s more expensive than conventional options, but diehard fans are happy to pay a little more for these products.
Not all companies will benefit from choosing a smaller niche, but it’s beneficial for new or growing brands that want to gain a stronger foothold. Whether in a tiny niche or a large market with loads of competition, you can still overhaul your business to become a top contender. All you need is the right strategy.
10 steps to dominate your niche
Even if your company exclusively sells fairy wings or puppy costumes, you need the right strategies to overcome the challenges that will inevitably come your way.
1. Gather research on your target niche
Before you do anything, it’s best to get the lay of the land first. What’s the state of your niche right now?
Take a look at your industry as a whole.
- What products are out there?
- Who are the biggest players?
- What are customers saying about this industry?
- What is the market potential in this industry?
Take a second to ensure that your niche is small enough to discourage competition but big enough to keep you profitable. Check that your total addressable market (TAM) is big enough to support your dreams.
2. Get to know your target customers
You might have the best branding and products, but without an audience to buy those products, you won’t have a revenue stream for your business. You need to understand the people you’re selling to.
First, look at your current customer data. Unless you’re a new startup, you likely have existing data on your past or current customers.
How do they engage with you right now? What are they searching for? What content resonates with them?
Talk to your sales, marketing, and customer service teams to provide more details about your customers’ needs.
Once you gather data on your existing customers, it’s time to create an ideal customer profile. Remember, maybe your existing customers are too price sensitive, and, going forward, you want to build a brand that justifies a luxury price point.
If you’re a B2C company, create a buyer persona that includes data on your ideal customers and their:
- Geographic location
- Psychographic data, like interests and attitudes
- Demographic information, like age, gender, hobbies, lifestyle, and career
- Pricing sensitivity
- Pain points
B2B companies will create an ideal customer profile (ICP). The difference between a persona and an ICP is that an ICP profiles a company, not a person. You can also create personas for your target decision-makers, too. However you want to structure them, each ICP should include data on your customers and their:
- Industry or vertical
- Annual revenue
- Customer base
- Technology use
- Pain points
Your objective is to look at your customers’ goals and motivations. Once you capture their frustrations, you’ll better understand the unmet needs in your market — and how you can solve them.
3. Research competitors
Focus on the top five to 10 direct competitors and identify businesses most likely taking customers from you. For example, if you’re an artisanal jeweler, you probably won’t list Walmart as a competitor. Yes, people buy jewelry from Walmart, but Walmart isn’t competing with you as directly as, say, popular Etsy shops.
Create a spreadsheet that identifies your top 10 competitors and their:
- Website URL
- Social media handles with links
- Products and features
- Pricing information
Next, look at what makes each competitor different. Get granular with your research and compare each competitor based on their:
- Customer service
- Delivery options
- Business model
- Product features
- Product quality
- Social media presence
- SEO rankings
- Overall reputation
- Market share
- Business legal structure
- Business hierarchy and leadership structure
The key here is to find where other companies are falling short and create a brand, service, or product that meets customers' needs.
4. Set company goals
You need a mission. That might be “to be the best data science SaaS solution in North America,” for example. That’s a good start, but it isn’t a tangible goal. What does it mean to be “the best”? Does that mean you’re the most profitable? That you have the most employees? Or you’re the best-rated company in your niche?
Follow the SMART goal-setting framework to create a goal that will serve as a guidepost for your business. For example, a SMART company goal might be, “We exist to save our customers 10 hours a week on monotonous data tasks.”
5. Create a product or service that matches your USP
Dig into your customers’ pain points to determine how you’ll differentiate your business. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? The best way to build credibility in a niche is to become an expert on a particular feature, product, or pain point. Finding your differentiator makes it much easier to highlight why your company is better than the competition.
6. Increase brand awareness through marketing
Now you need to get the word out by creating a marketing strategy that positions your brand as the best in the business.
Take another look at your customer personas or ICP to find where your target audience spends their time online. If you aren’t already on social media, start with accounts on Facebook or Instagram because these platforms have a lot of users. However, be aware that your target audience might operate somewhere else. Maybe you’re more likely to find them on LinkedIn (B2B) or TikTok (influencers).
When it’s time to market your business, go where your customers are. To save time and money on marketing costs, limit your efforts to only the platforms where your customers spend the most time.
Try these marketing tactics to generate more awareness:
- Content marketing: Create content like blogs, articles, podcasts, and videos to spread the word about your business. Instead of pushing a sales agenda, offer help and expertise to your audience when they need it the most. The key is to look at your customers’ pain points and create content around those pain points.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): To generate more organic traffic, understanding SEO can help you crush the competition. Invest in on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO to become a force. It can take six months or more to see a payout from your SEO efforts, but it will be worth it. Free tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, and Google Analytics can help you master SEO quickly.
- Referrals: Word-of-mouth marketing is a smart way to solidify your niche presence without significantly impacting your budget. Offer referral rewards to your existing customers when they refer new customers to your brand.
- Social media: Want an affordable way to interact with your customers? Get on social media. You don’t have to be on every social network, only target those platforms your customers use the most often. The key is to create relevant content each day.
7. Build credibility
Marketing spreads the word, but you still need to put in the work to become a respected authority in your niche.
You can boost your credibility by:
- Speaking or presenting at conferences
- Applying to be a guest on industry podcasts
- Co-writing books
- Applying for awards
If you have the resources, you can also boost your credibility (and brand awareness) by conducting research on your field. That could be as simple as surveying a few hundred people through Help A Reporter Out and publishing the results.
8. Overcome the digital noise
Once you’ve established yourself online, make promotional products a crucial part of your niche strategy.
Here’s why: You need every differentiator to dominate your niche. Branded merchandise helps you stand out from competitors that overlook the benefit of tangible marketing. Plus, promotional products are less expensive to manage and have more staying power than an email that might go ignored.
You can Create Brand Love™ moments and become a leader in your niche with innovative promotional products. You’re free to choose a product spread that best fits your brand; many of Boundless’ clients select products like:
- Charging cases
- Waffle-knit robes
- Beach towels
- Throw blankets
- Recycled journals
- Fanny packs
- Cooler bags
- Aromatherapy diffusers
- Custom branded sneakers
- Branded luxury bags and jackets
9. Create a business plan
It might sound frilly, but a documented business plan serves as your playbook to niche domination and keeps you and your employees on the same map to success.
A business plan details your business model, product, and target customers. It describes your philosophy on how the company will run. The business plan should include significant milestones and a rough timeline, too, so you can see a clear path to success. Plus, you can present a business plan to investors or a bank if you need funding, so it’s a must-have for startups.
Every business plan should include a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” This framework will help you identify your internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats.
10. Change your niche when it makes sense
The best businesses know when it’s time to try something else. Just because your niche is working for you right now, it doesn’t mean that will be the case in two years. It’s common for brands to start in a small niche market and expand outward as they get more resources and experience.
Revisit your niche strategy at least once a year. See if you need to adjust any components of your strategy to keep pace with a changing world.
Ready To Win? Boundless Helps Brands Dominate Their Niche
The online world is loaded with competition. While you complete your strategy to dominate your niche, don’t forget to invest in offline processes, too.
Tangible marketing tactics, like promotional products, make it possible to skip the line. Don't worry about showing up in your followers’ social media feeds: just share promotional products they’ll love, and you’ll steadily build a reputation for excellence.
Ready to give your customers what they want? Boundless helps growing businesses become industry leaders through our branding expertise. See how Boundless helps businesses Inspire Brand Love™ moments with their customers.