Here is an old expression often repeated in the PR industry: there’s riches in niches. The gist is that sticking to the niche markets you know best is typically the best path to take.
Over the years, I’ve wavered from this, and while it worked in some instances, it did not go well for the most part. For instance, several years ago, one of my clients was in the foodservice industry. They marketed what was called a nutrition or menu management system.
It was kind of neat.
The system had a database of thousands of different foods, including their calorie counts, nutrients, amount of salt and fat usually associated with these foods, and quite a bit more info.
I was their PR guy, but I had trouble boiling eggs. While I thought the system was nifty, it took me quite a while to learn how it operates, what it does, and how chefs could take advantage of it. They would demonstrate the system to me, and I tried my best not to have a blank look on my face.
And then, once I finally understood the system, I had something even more significant to learn: the foodservice industry. It’s a vast industry, far bigger than most people realize. Further, there are lots of menu management systems, all having different features and benefits. It would be my job to learn as much about these as possible.
The client paid my way into various tradeshows, and this time, instead of a blank look on my face, I was starry-eyed, especially when I saw all of these different systems in action. Further, I could not believe all the different types of products, systems, and technologies in the foodservice industry.
While I was with that client for more than two years, and I do believe we produced some valuable content for them that helped them sell their menu-management system, I also learned something very valuable, and that is stick to my niche.
There truly are riches in niches.
In some ways, it was almost a disservice to the client that I did not. While there is always a learning curve when you start with a new client, the curve is typically a month or two. It took me about four months to understand foodservice, and there was still a lot I did not know.
Riches in Niches and the Takeaway
So, not to repeat this mistake, and always remembering that there truly are riches in niches, here is what I do now, which can apply to all types of organizations and marketers:
- I’ve written down on a piece of paper the two or three industries I believe I know well enough so that if I get a client in those industries, I can jump in quickly and start promoting their products and services.
- Within these two or three industries, there are typically segments. I have now isolated those segments. For instance, we usually do not work with distributors of products, but we work with manufacturers and end customers. I know these two segments the best.
- Taking this a step further, I have developed a client persona. An example: we do not work with “newbies” in an industry or start-ups. We look for businesses that are at least five years old. Also, we prefer organizations with 11-200 employees, these tend to be more established companies.
Finally, I imagine myself as a buyer of the client’s products or services. If I can’t imagine myself as a buyer, I won’t fully understand or appreciate the features and benefits of the client’s offerings. If I can’t do that, how can I promote the client? It’s that simple.
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