It’s natural to want scale in our marketing.
“A bigger platform!”
We want our own megaphone to the masses – who, when presented with our offer, will eagerly line up to buy.
Suddenly, we’ll have all the leads and sales we could ever imagine.
We’ll be buying yachts, and swimming backstroke through piles of money in the style of Scrooge McDuck.
But there’s something ironic about how scale happens.
Recently, I’ve been mentoring a bunch of startup founders and consultants-turned-thought-leaders – helping them to get their online marketing kick-started, maximise growth during the initial startup phase, and minimise the runway of time and money needed to get their business profitable.
Unlike people who already run e-commerce websites, startup founders often don’t have several years of decision-making data in Google Analytics they can use to profile and target their best clients.
Instead – when you’re just getting started – you need to do your own deep research and deep thinking around the ideal client for you to target with your marketing.
This is hard!
And it doesn’t come naturally to us.
In fact, the first time I begin asking a mentoring student about narrowing target markets and focussing in on a more specific type of ideal customer, a pained expression comes across their face.
They bristle, shrink, and look for the exits.
Niching doesn’t come naturally to us, because – at first glance – it doesn’t make logical sense.
“I don’t WANT to say ‘No’ to people who aren’t my ideal client!”
This is where the irony of niching begins.
We imagine that niche is small – and closes our business off to opportunities.
But niche is where big is small, small is big – and where a quiet conversation with one person will speak to more people than a megaphone to the masses.
If you market widely, rather than narrowly (particularly in the early stages of your business):
- You end up wasting a lot of time, effort and money targeting a wide audience who is (on average) less interested in buying from you than your ideal client;
- The conversation you have with a potential client through your marketing is more generic – and therefore less meaningful and impactful – so they’re less likely to buy;
- And (as Geoffrey Moore shows in his book Crossing The Chasm), you’re less likely to gain mainstream appeal, referrals, and hit “critical mass” with your product.
But – by focussing in on a single ideal customer – you can ensure your messaging speaks to their specific needs, thoughts, and desires; you avoid wasting ad budget on people who are less-than-ideal-clients; and your highly targeted ads get a far greater return on investment.
It’s like using a magnifying glass to focus the power of the sun’s rays and start a campfire. The more narrowly you focus, the more effective you’ll be at starting fire at that one point.
And – just like in this metaphor – when we begin narrowly, our results are more likely to spread. We may begin with a single ideal customer in mind – but once we “start the fire” with that customer, the fire is likely to spread to other similar people, and other people similar to them, and our market will naturally widen itself.
This is why a quiet conversation with one person is far more effective than a megaphone to the masses.
Having trouble working your niche, or ideal client? Wanting to improve the Return on Investment of your advertising, and make more sales with a lower ad budget? Reach out to me here and I’ll send you more information.