The world is your oyster, but when it comes to finding your target audience, niche is the key.
Have you watched Crazy Rich Asians? Or have you read about what an unexpected success it is? There is something to be learned from this phenomenon. While it is heartening to see an all Asian cast in a Hollywood movie, it is even more inspiring to see how by targeting a sub- category instead of the masses, there is overwhelming success to be had, and even more so when you champion authenticity instead of blindly following a formula which worked for someone else but might not for you.
Many businesses have the misconception that by targeting as many people, whether they are indeed your target audience or not, is the key to drawing in more business. I am sorry to tell you, that is not the case. Your pitch will fall on deaf ears and you waste precious resources targeting people who are wrong for your business, who will not care about the story you have to tell or the product you have to sell.
Let’s use one of my good friends, Anna, as an example. We were talking about how disruptive ads can be and Anna mentioned this to me. She does not have children, so whenever she goes on Youtube and sees ads targeted at her, assuming she is a mother, trying to sell diapers or anything related to children, she either skips the ad or closes the page. Just because this woman is 34 years old does not mean that she has children or want children. This is sloppy targeting and a waste of ad money.
Finding your niche is like finding a place where you belong, where people are waiting for you to come along and solve their problems and you actually have the perfect solution for them. What happens after is not going to be effortless, but it will be less effort because your target audience would already be interested in hearing what you have to say. Do not let them down. Make sure you not only have the product or service they want, but are also able to convince them your product or service can add value to their lives in a way your competitors will not be able to match.
So the first step to finding your niche, is to stop targeting the masses. Masses are faceless, masses are general. In this time and age, your brand will face huge difficulty trying to reach someone vague. And your brand messages will not carry meaning nor authenticity because you have no idea who you are talking to. With so much competition in the marketplace now, if you do not clearly define your target audience, you will be lost in the crowd.
It is no longer sufficient to give a general profile to your target audience, in terms of age range, gender, profession, earning power, and where to position your products so the prospective customer can find it.
You need to dare to be you. You have to believe that there are like-minded people out there who will love what you do and would not hesitate to buy from you. To find these like-minded supporters, you need to dig deep and try to sharply define your target audience. Put yourself in her shoes. Imagine what her day is like. Consider the problems she has to deal with and the issues that are keeping her up at night. What are her dreams? What are her passions in life? How can you step in like a superhero, saving her day? How can you bring her delight, joy and satisfaction?
Next, make sure you construct a narrative that is relevant to your target audience. From your website, to your blog, to your social media platforms. Write as if you are speaking to that one unique person. Write as if you understand her concerns and her fears, and then write about how you can address and solve those issues for her. Write to let her know why she should choose you.
One of the brands that does so well by walking in the shoes of its ideal customer is Lululemon. Before Lululemon comes along, yogawear was just boring. No one was telling a compelling story for the audience in this niche. Maybe no one deems it important enough or profitable enough.
Lululemon spotted an emerging trend for athleisure wear. They noticed a gap in the market which none of the big corporations were going for. Hence they invented a new category and targeted that niche. A move that brought about huge success.
In an interview with New York Times, Lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson, talked about his strategy – creating a “muse” whom prospective clients will aspire towards becoming.
Ocean is a 32-year old woman, who earns $100 000 a year. She travels, loves fashion, lives in a condo and embraces an active workout regime. She is “a woman whom all women want to be”.
With the strategy of creating an aspirational muse, the company was able to construct a cohesive brand story which resonated with their target audience. It was never about the clothes itself, it was about the lifestyle that came with wearing Lululemon’s apparel. A spotlight has been cast on the customers who identify with Lululemon’s brand story, and the story was crafted with this niche in mind.
So fellow business owners, take the first step and boldly define your target audience. Make it your goal to passionately carve out a niche for your brand. You need to take time to really think about who your customer is or aspires to be. You need to seriously evaluate if your current customer profile is relevant. This is the hard part. Because once you nail your niche market, you will know how to talk to them. You will find the right vocabulary and develop your brand story with context that will speak uniquely to your target audience. You might realise how you have targeted the wrong niche thus far, thereby making changes to your strategy. Or better yet, you could spot a gap in the market which you could now target! Lastly, finding your niche would lead you to think about if your product is fulfilling the needs of your customers. It provides a great opportunity for you to take a deeper look at your products and maybe even seek improvement for you to become even more competitive.
Trust me, this is an effort worth putting in!