Focus, focus, focus – content, marketing & the power of niche

by Sonja Jefferson on February 16, 2013

The businesses that win in the digital age are the ones that have the greatest relevance to their target audience. They are the ones that are the most focused – they absolutely understand their market and the people they serve.

If you want success from the content you share on the web you’ll need a laser focus on your clients or customers and their particular needs. The way to get results is to specialise – stick your stake in the sand and target your content marketing efforts at a particular niche.

“Customers buy when they find that you are in their bull’s eye – i.e. exactly what they are looking for. But the more bland and boring your marketing message, the more you become one of many in the outer rings of the target. When you have a niche – either by who you serve or by what you do – then you stand out as a specialist.” Paul Simister, Differentiate Your Business.

If you truly specialise you’ll know more about your area of focus than most firms and you’ll have something more relevant, unique and interesting to say. Your expertise becomes so much deeper. The better you know your audience, the better you’ll become at writing content they’re likely to read and respond to, and the more success you’ll get from your marketing.

Here is what this means for your business. 

What this means for small firms

For a small firm with limited resources the niche question can mean some hard decisions – which market will you choose to serve? The subject of niche specialisation is a contentious one for many smaller companies. The fear is that if you focus too narrowly you’ll miss out on opportunities: seeking general appeal in large markets is seen as the safer option. But if you fail to specialise you run the risk of trying to be everything to everybody and failing to be remembered – your messages effectively disappear between the cracks.

The more precisely you can describe your customers, address their issues and deepen your knowledge the more relevant and valuable your content will be and the more success you will get. Here is a great example:

Newfangled stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Web development is an overcrowded marketplace but Newfangled most certainly set their business apart. They differentiate themselves by focusing on a niche market – website development for advertising agencies and marketing firms. The quality and focus of their content gives them stellar status in their field.

See: www.newfangled.com and on Twitter @newfangled_web

What this means for larger firms

For a larger firm serving many different markets this means creating specialist targeted content for each niche community you serve. Here’s an  example:

HSBC delivers value to the expat community

HSBC has recognised the need for targeted, relevant content. Take a look at their niche site for the expat community. With its specialist website, social media feeds, inspiring blog, YouTube channel, guides, and tools HSBC meets the specific needs of expat clients and customers and shows it understands them better than its competitors.

See: www.expat.hsbc.com and on Twitter @expatexplorer

Having a niche makes your story so much easier to tell with your content, so much easier for people to understand and retell. I will leave you with some sound advice from author of The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki:

“Put one niche in your basket, hatch it, put another niche in your basket, hatch it…and soon you’ll have a whole bunch of niches that add up to market domination.”

How about your business? Generalist or niche? What works best for you? I’d love to hear.

Further reading on this subject:

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Sonja Jefferson

Sonja Jefferson is a consultant, writer and founder of Valuable Content. She helps good businesses to create and share great content so they win the business they deserve.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Steve King February 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I agree Sonja. In fact we are just about to narrow our niche further; to service businesses. (We are busy creating valuable content, inspired by you lot and your book at the moment.) I do have one observation to add though – in the many years we’ve spent working with small firms we’ve learnt that the market will guide you to your niche if you ask it the right questions and listen carefully to the answers. It can be very difficult to second guess it. Don’t delay in asking the questions though. You need to learn quickly who places the greatest value on what you can and want to provide. More thoughts here: http://www.f-works.co.uk/fwords/focus/

avatar Sonja Jefferson February 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Thanks Steve, I totally agree with your ‘ask your clients’ approach. We know from experience that customers really help to give you the right steer if you ask them the right questions.

I love the article (and illustration). I might add a fourth point to your list of ways to carve out your niche: as well as the other three, I’d focus on the type of customer you really WANT to help. If your heart isn’t in it, your customers will know.

avatar Steve King February 17, 2013 at 10:27 pm

That’s appreciated Sonja. I completely agree with your observation that if your heart isn’t in it, you customers will know. I mention it as part of ‘thing one’ in my article (http://www.f-works.co.uk/fwords/focus/) but on reflection it deserves greater emphasis.

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