Targeting your niche market is almost as perplexing as figuring out how to correctly pronounce the word “niche.” And depending on which business expert you ask, there is a myriad of “correct” ways to reach a niche market. Thinking beyond Twitter, Facebook ads, and old-school paid advertising spots, we found six innovative ways to reach your niche customer base. All are worth a try, regardless of how you say it.
1. Put it in writing—with the right words
Laurie Morse-Dell, founder of Pup’s Place, a company offering eco-friendly products for dogs, writes blog posts and articles about topics related to her business. “[I write] blog posts with tailored topics and key words, such as ‘best eco-friendly toys for playing fetch’,” says Morse-Dell. Being aware of those specific key words drives search traffic to her site, increasing online discovery of her company and bumping her sales.
2. Consider all of the places you can find your customers
Mike van den Abbeel, co-owner of Mosaic Hair Studio, a boutique hair salon and blowout bar in Orlando, Florida, uses targeted marketing techniques to create buzz for his business with great results. “Free of charge, we place our blow dryers in personal fitness training gyms and yoga studios around our area,” says van den Abbeel. “Next to the dryer is a sign that reads ‘If you have to do your own hair, might as well use the best. These dryers provided by Mosaic Hair Studio and Blowout Bar.’ The dryers we provide are very high-end and are much better quality than the usual dryer most gym owners put in their changing rooms.” The word-of-mouth from that non-linear “product placement” translated to heighten awareness of the salon. By thinking of every area you can reach your key customers, not just the obvious ones, you may find a better way to grab their attention and get their business.
Hunter Phoenix, a certified Life and Success coach who works with executives, business owners, and professionals in a variety of industries, suggests her clients find “sister companies,” those businesses also in your niche market world, but who may not be your direct competition. “[Think about] who you can partner with and offer cross promotions or bonuses,” she says. “Some great examples are a fitness trainer and a nutritionist, a wedding photographer and a make-up artist, or a business marketing coach and a graphics designer. Get creative, and find inspiring people to work with.” By partnering with and promoting a “sister company,” you can double or triple your niche customer reach—and also help a fellow small business owner.
4. Give away your product in a smart way
You may think that giving away products for free will hurt your bottom line, but, to make inroads toward that niche customer, it may be well worth the outlay. Steve Caradano of Vero Linens, a manufacturer of Italian luxury bed linens that is sold exclusively on the web, contacts high-end interior design bloggers to do giveaways. “It gives the blogger something to write about—these bloggers occasionally get writers block, so a new story idea is frequently welcome. Also, the blogger provides a testimonial of my product and tells my story more effectively than I could do in a commercial or advertisement. I get instant creditability of my product,” says Caradano, who notes that giveaways result in some of the highest response rates bloggers have had to their articles. “Their readers love it. The cost [of the giveaway] is small in comparison to some of the advertising that I have done, and it generates business,” he says.
5. Get to the influencers
In every niche market, there are influencers: those people that are in the position to spread the word and connect others to products, businesses, and information. Jon Tucker is a senior strategist at Compete Marketing Group, an online marketing agency, and he suggests small business owners find those key folks— and influence them. “[For example], a restaurant that focuses on organic food should identify all the local foodie bloggers (especially organic-focused bloggers) and gradually form relationships with them,” he says. Others go one step further and sponsor events to bring those movers and shakers together. This is a key marketing tool used by Katie Hughes, the CEO and founder of Slip-On Dancers, a product that allows you to turn your exercise shoes into dance shoes, preventing injuries and knee pain. “I found that the connectors in a market have regular meetings or conventions. It is worth the money to be at these conventions where the connectors are. I sponsor the Zumba convention that gets my product in front of 7,000 Zumba instructors—who can then take my product back and sing its praises to all their participants,” says Hughes. Spending a bit of your marketing budget in this way can lead to a wave of word-of-mouth momentum that ultimately translates to sales.
6. Get out of your office
Meeting the customers in your niche market is perhaps the best way to build your business, especially if you are what you’re selling. Tina Marinaccio, a registered dietitian and personal trainer whose company is called Health Dynamics, agrees. “I find the best way to target my niche market is to get out into the community and shake hands,” she says. “I join local groups, go to town festivals, attend wine tastings, and so on. Sometimes, I intentionally go solo because it forces me to meet people and discuss what I do. I’m not selling a tangible product. I am the product, so a face-to-face meeting speaks volumes over any other form of advertising.”