In B2B, one of the most valuable things you can do is focus on a niche. Ironically, it’s also one of the things most companies are the least likely to do.
The reasoning for this is simple: no one wants to say “no” to any sale. It’s one of the hardest things to do when growing your business. Revenue is revenue, they rightly reason. And I don’t disagree; heck, I love revenue! But by serving everyone, you become a generalist, or worse yet, a commodity.
By defining who YOU ARE, by definition you have also defined who YOU ARE NOT. (Remember that.)
From a marketing perspective, you simply don’t have the time or budget to market and sell your product to everyone. Even if you did, your product would have to be so broad in its appeal that competitors would invariably come in with specialized versions and pick off your audience one by one.
The specialist, on the other hand, intentionally yet strategically limits their opportunities. They say “no” more often than they say “yes.” They don’t seek to rank for every keyword under the sun. And they don’t care if they’re a household name. And they often command the highest premiums in their industry.
Instead of taking a shotgun, spray-and-pray approach, they take careful aim by focusing on a niche. The more tightly you can define your audience, geographic market, psychographics and product use, the more effective you’ll be at going after that audience and making the sale. The tighter your niche, the easier it will be to establish yourself as the go-to expert for that niche; you essentially make yourself a category of one.
The other great thing about focusing your niche is how much easier it makes marketing decisions. No longer do you have to spread your media buy among a variety of publications, or try to capture dozens of high-cost keywords, or try to communicate a variety of different messages. Once you know who you are, where your audience is and what they want to hear, you’ll be able to get the most bang for your marketing buck.
Beyond marketing, focusing on a niche will allow you to invest in specialized training, equipment and skills your competitors can’t afford to match, further establishing yourself as the expert in your field.
The most common complaint I hear about this approach from business owners is the fear they’ll pick a niche that’s too small. While possible, it’s likely improbable; in our wired world, the audience for your niche can be found around the globe. And on the off chance you do pick a niche that’s too small, you can always use it as the foundation to expand into related niches.
To me, the key to a successful business isn’t to be a company that everyone has heard. It’s to be known as the best of the best to your exact customers. By focusing on your niche, you’ll not only be able to be known as the best, but be able to provide the service that can back it up.
WARNING: Once you do decide to pick your niche, your business growth will likely plateau or dip at first due to you walking away from business outside of your niche. But over time, the growth should be faster and it should lead to better profit margins since you will be performing the same service over and over or delivering the same product line.