Entrepreneurs who try to appeal to everyone risk appealing to no one. One of the most critical steps to building a successful business and personal brand is to focus on a niche. Entrepreneurs should pick a laser-focused segment of the market they want to be best in and claim it.
There’s a common misconception that focusing on a narrow space is limiting. However, carving out a niche helps entrepreneurs stand out in a crowded market. It’s impossible to be an expert on everything, nor is it a practical approach to personal branding. Defining a niche makes it easier to focus on being the best in a smaller field.
To define a niche, entrepreneurs should consider what it is they do in a way that nobody else can. What area can they succeed in that interests them? Here’s how to carve out a niche when launching a personal branding campaign.
Identify passions and interests.
When entrepreneurs love what they do, it shows. Those who aren’t passionate may lose steam and are less likely to succeed. That’s why it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to pick a niche based on the things that keep them up at night. What field do you want to become an expert in that has an audience demand? Choose a niche that resonates with you, not one based purely on profitability.
Entrepreneurs who find an area they’re passionate about are more likely to excel in it than those who are not. For example, I work in the real estate industry, but I’m more interested in the technology behind real estate. This is more specific than trying to speak to “anyone in real estate.”
Whatever entrepreneurs choose, it’s essential to take an authentic approach. According to a 2017 Consumer Content Report by Stackla, 86 percent of people say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. Audiences want to support real brands, and it isn’t hard to see when brands aren’t being true to themselves.
So, be authentic and infuse your values and personality into your personal brand. Being genuine and transparent builds trust with consumers. Don’t be afraid to share the unpolished side of your story. For instance, use social media networks to discuss the failures and setbacks you’ve experienced behind your success. Audiences find this content real and inspirational.
Become a recognized expert.
Entrepreneurs should strive to become the go-to person for their audience. Cultivate yourself as an expert in your niche by writing articles, blogging, engaging in groups and speaking at engagements.
Rather than solely pushing a product or service, taking a consultative approach will attract audiences and add value to their lives. For instance, my niche is providing advice to real estate agents to help them succeed in building their brand in a digital age using technology. I focus on addressing the pain points of my target audience, rather than only promoting products or services.
Gaining recognition as a subject matter expert can be challenging at first. Until you establish your authority, you can leverage other well-known players in the industry to build your expertise by guest blogging or co-hosting events together.
Define an ideal customer.
Entrepreneurs need to get specific about who they want to work with to really hone in on their niche. Consider everything from your target audience’s gender and age to their location and online behaviors. Think about their occupation and the challenges they might be facing to try to narrow the target customer.
The more an entrepreneur knows about their audience, the more effective they can be in creating content and engaging with customers. Defining an ideal customer will enable entrepreneurs to build a following effectively.
Research the competition.
Entrepreneurs should invest time in researching their competitors. Identify other personal brands in the market and do a thorough analysis of their websites as well as any content they may produce for third-party publications. It’s critical to take note of what your competitors are doing and not doing and try to realize a gap in the market.
Entrepreneurs will need to consider what makes them different. What services or products can you offer that competitors are not? How are you going to stand out and cut through the noise? It’s best not to choose a saturated niche, unless you are confident that you have a clear way to differentiate yourself.
Start a social media group.
Billions of people use social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, so it’s likely an entrepreneur will find their target audience in one of these places. Starting a group is an excellent way for entrepreneurs to grow their influence and build their following. Get a discussion going, but be sure to do it on the platform that your target audience uses most often. Once you begin building an audience, share useful content, engage with members and cultivate your image as an industry expert.
For example, my company created a Facebook group, “PropertySimple Pros,” to offer actionable tips and advice to our target audience — real estate agents — and help them generate referrals on social media. It’s a community that brings together agents in one place to ask questions, learn best practices, generate leads and network with others who are using social media to grow their real estate businesses.
Rather than serve a broad industry, entrepreneurs will benefit from narrowing their focus to a smaller segment of the market. Defining a niche will help them differentiate themselves among competitors. It will also enable entrepreneurs to build a personal brand and a successful business effectively.