Small business owners know they can’t sell to everyone and must focus on one or more niche markets in which they will have the most success. Most owners should know and be able to define the niche markets in which their business operates. It might be defined geographically, by industry sector, by type of buyer or a combination of all three.
For example, Sales Made Easy is geared towards small business owners. There is no geographical or industry sector bias. Sales and marketing for small businesses is the same, whatever the industry and wherever the business is based. We want to help any small business struggling with its sales and marketing.
Despite small business owners defining their niche markets, the reality is that they will happily take orders from anywhere (provided they are sufficiently profitable). There is nothing wrong with this strategy, all that matters is that clients from outside their declared niche markets receive value for money and obtain a solution to their problem(s). If they don’t, these clients may start to post negative reviews on the Internet. These have the potential to damage the supplier’s core business activities.
I have been in organisations that worked in this way and it helped us to identify new industry sectors to move into. Having previously won orders from a new sector (almost by accident) and with at least one happy client to act as a reference account, it was relatively easy to expand further into that sector.
If you are receiving enquiries from outside your normal niche markets, it is worth investigating why this is occurring. Most likely it is because your marketing activities are reaching audiences beyond your main niche markets. If you are happy to restrict activities to your current niches, there is no value to you in having your marketing reaching people outside these niches. By getting more focus into your marketing, you should be able to do more for the same cost.
For example, assume you wanted to find new clients within 1 hours travel time from your office. In this case, there is no real point in getting national coverage from your marketing. Sometimes it is unavoidable and a wide range of people will see your marketing messages. If you engage with an industry association, it will almost certainly have national, even international, coverage. Instead of working to get some publicity in national newspapers, focus instead on regional publications published in the area you see as your prime market.
You should follow a similar approach if you ever decide to have stands at trade exhibitions. It will be cheaper and more efficient to attend smaller, local exhibitions rather than larger national ones.
Somehow you must organise your marketing to be more like a laser beam, concentrating activities only on those people who you want to reach. The success of this strategy begins with you becoming crystal clear on who it is you expect to buy your product/service and how they will benefit by doing so.
The next step is deciding how you will deliver your sales messages to these people. The approach you choose will depend on the nature and size of your niche. If you are looking nationally for prospects belonging to an industry association, getting their list of members will be a great start. This can be difficult unless you pay a significant fee to give you the rights to use the information. Therefore, you will almost certainly have to settle for something like being promoted by the association about your capabilities – it might be a leaflet inside their printed magazine or an article in their eZine.
If you want to work with people in your immediate location, there is still much to be said for leaflet drops. Of course, businesses and home-owners get fed up with this sort of “junk mail”, so make yours different. Create ways to stop your leaflets being thrown in the bin, such as a 15% discount on their first purchase if they present the leaflet at the time. It is “old technology” but it does still work, especially if you can point people to a website full of examples of your satisfied clients. Produce success stories in which you describe the experiences and benefits these clients have seen after buying from you.
Having worked out who to connect with and how to reach them, the third step is to work out your message and what action you want these people to take. Again, this will depend on the nature of your business but most likely the “call to action” will be for them to visit your website. Your website then takes over the persuading process – these potential prospects should find lots of information, including the experiences of previous purchasers. This builds credibility and confidence.
In some instances, you would look for website visitors to buy your product online. In others, the call to action would be to contact you to discuss their specific requirements. In this latter scenario, everyone who contacts you is considering a purchase and your job is to show why your product is the best option.
- Identify with great clarity exactly who you expect to buy your product/service. Define the niche market(s) that you will focus on and how you will reach this target audience.
- Contact other organisations that are already in contact with your target niche(s) and explore ways in which you can help them achieve more sales in return for them promoting your business to their clients.