I received a call from my dad the other day. When I asked him, “How’s the weather in New Hampshire?” He responded, “The goldfinches are finally turning yellow.”
This immediately made me smile. I was raised in a family that owned a business that was “for the birds”. Literally, for the birds. We manufactured bird feeders, bird houses, premium bird seed blends, and all things that support the enjoyment of backyard birds. My grandfather started the business, Duncraft, in 1952. Since then we’ve celebrated more than 60 years of business through four generations of our family. The business employs more than 40 people, is still going strong, and has captured a distinct niche in its marketplace.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the keys to creating a distinct niche in your market that will set your business up for long-term success.
Define Your Niche
What is a niche? A niche is when you compete on value, not price.
Take my family’s business, for example. Duncraft is located in New Hampshire but it sells to customers all over the United States through both a catalog and an online store. They compete with thousands of other companies that sell similar products. One can buy a bird feeder and seed from almost any big box chain, hardware store, grocery store or local “mom and pop” shop. So, how has Duncraft set themselves apart so successfully for so many years?
Duncraft was able to identify what makes them more unique, more valuable, and how to be more visible to their target market. They offer one of the widest selections of backyard bird products available, and they established brand loyalty by building products that are durable, functional and field tested.
It can be helpful to ask a few questions as you choose your niche:
- Who lives in your marketplace and is willing and able to pay well for the product or service you provide?
- How and why have these customers been underserved by your competitors?
- Is there an opportunity for you to profitably provide better service?
You’ve heard the saying “differentiate or die,” right? In our highly competitive world, you have to be unique and fill a special niche to be successful. One of the most costly mistakes businesses make is trying to be all things to all people. This is why it’s critical to identify what makes you unique so that you can position your company as the best choice in your market.
Write a Unique Selling Proposition
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a statement that distinguishes your product in your market and informs customers why they should want to buy from you.
This will become a key driving force for your business success! Once you clearly understand what makes you unique, you can use your USP as a branding tool for all your marketing efforts.
Your USP is the essence of what you are offering. It needs to be so compelling that you can use it as the headline to sell your product or service. The goal of your USP and marketing is to have people say to you, “Oh, yes I’ve heard of you. You’re the company that…”
To make a strong USP, follow these five simple steps:
- Describe your target audience as precisely as possible. While you might be willing to serve a broad spectrum of customers, you should focus on targeting one specific type of customers. It can help to ask yourself, “Who are my best customers?” and “What do my top three customers have in common?”
- State the problem you’re going to solve from your customers’ perspective. What is the underlying challenge that they face? Why is that important? Keep digging until you find the key “job to be done.”
- State three to five significant benefits your customers will experience working with you compared to another competitor in your space.
- Write a promise to your customers. You can write a “Customer Bill of Rights” like JetBlue or SVS Sound. You can also integrate your promise throughout your homepage, service webpages, online videos, and more. For example, Domino’s still pledges “30 minutes or free pizza” in many markets around the world.
- Combine everything that you’ve decided into one paragraph. This paragraph should define your target audience, state their problem or need, list key benefits, and then make your pledge. Once you complete this paragraph, congratulations! You now have a unique selling proposition!
If you’re wondering, Duncraft’s USP is to create innovative solutions for backyard bird feeding and to offer the very best in product quality and usability, combined with excellent customer service and reliable home delivery. Duncraft strives to be the primary source for new ideas in the bird feeding industry—giving bird lovers years of bird feeding enjoyment, success and satisfaction.
Align Your Marketing Materials with Your USP
Now that you have a USP, it’s time to make sure all your marketing materials align with it.
- Your brand name and tagline
- Your website, especially your homepage, about page, and service pages
- Your email welcome sequence and newsletter
- Your Google Ads or Facebook Ads copywriting
- Your videos that you show in ads or on your website
- Your brochures and other print materials
- Your content marketing, for example in your podcast into or blog post bio
You want every part of your marketing to reinforce your USP so that it’s imminently clear to your customers why they might hire you or buy your products.
Focus Your Business on Your USP
This one can take years, but the rewards can be enormous. Over time, many businesses will benefit from focusing more and more on just their #1 target market, and even going a step further by focusing on a single product that best serves those customers.
Marketing companies often start out as generalists before “niching down” to focus on just one service for one type of client. Take the cases of Nexus Marketing and a Sizzle It. Nexus Marketing might be able to offer more affordable prices and a wider variety of marketing services to broader variety of clients. Their services run the gamut from web design to video production and graphic design. However, a more niche marketing agency, like Sizzle It, can charge a more premium price for their one specialty that they provide to a narrow selection of clients. Sizzle It focuses only on “sizzle reel” brand videos, those short 1- or 2-minute long videos that introduce a company or product to an audience.
In this case, Sizzle It uses their USP in the homepage headline, “We’re Sizzle Reel Experts”, and further clarifies their target market and key benefits in their subheader: “We help brands, PR agencies, corporations, and media personalities show off their accomplishments and win new opportunities.”
Focusing on one audience and product can help you become the known specialist in your industry. This allows you to charge higher prices for your product or service and enables you to focus your advertising, search engine optimization, and other marketing strategies on narrower, more specific audiences and keywords.
Leverage Free Resources
- How to Open a Wedding Venue
- How to Start a Self Storage Business
- How to Start a Dog Training Business
- How to Start a Party Bus Business
- How to Start a Resume Writing Business
- How to Start a Kennel
- How to Start a Baby Store
- How to Start a Car Repair Shop
- How to Start a Microgreens Business
- How to Start a Food Delivery Business
- How to Start a Spa Business
- How to Start a Smoothie Business
- How to Start a Video Game Company
No matter what business you choose, you’ll typically complete 13 steps to open your business.
- Choose a business idea. Do market research. Assess how much it costs to start a business, how much you can earn from the business, and what your barriers to entry are.
- Choose a business location. After choosing a state, you’ll want to decide whether your business should be virtual or in-person. If you’ll have a physical location, try to find a location that is centrally located near public transport, and ventilated with plenty of natural light. Look for a flexible lease on a property that’s ready to use without any major renovations required.
- Hone your idea. Determine what products and services you’ll sell, what to charge, who your target market will be, and other essential details. A great tool for doing this is the Business Model Canvas.
- Brainstorm a business name. If helpful, you can use a free business name generator.
- Write a business plan. The Deliberate Directions Business Planning Workshop is ideally suited to entrepreneurs looking to develop a concrete plan to present to partners, bankers, investors or buyers.
- Register your business. Choose where to register, and select an appropriate business structure.
- Register for taxes. The IRS provides detailed information on how to register your business so you can get a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).
- Fund your business. Check out our step-by-step guide how to get your business loan approved.
- Apply for licensees and permits. The Small Business Administration offers guidance for various business activities that require licenses.
- Open a business bank account. Look for an account with no fees or very low fees. To open an account, you’ll need an EIN and documentation.
- Get business insurance. Insurance can protect you from unexpected costs that can run you out of business.
- Prepare to launch. Develop your website. Set up software and tools including your social media and online profiles like Google Business Profile and Yelp. Create marketing materials to promote your business such as digital signage, case studies, pay-per-click campaigns. Get networking, and set up an accounting system.
- Set up a phone system. Choosing the right business phone system can take time because there are so many options. Evaluate your business needs and determine what communication features are essential.
- Build your team. A typical business will need a general manager, marketing lead, salesperson, and customer service representative. Of course, hiring a team is just the beginning!
Creating a niche for your business begins with having a strong pulse on your customers’ needs and finding a unique way to address their needs. Start by defining your customer niche, then write your unique selling proposition using our 5-step process.
Next, align your marketing materials with your USP. Finally, consider gradually pivoting your business to focus on just one customer niche and service. This tends to increase profitability and make your business more sellable.
If you’re interested in creating a stronger niche for your business, you’re welcome to schedule a free coaching session at Deliberate Directions. Based in Boise, Idaho, and serving businesses globally, we create abundance by helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses.