“Niche marketing” simply means matching your products or services with the most likely buyers. It’s our job as marketers to ensure these most likely buyers either are, or become aware, that your business operation is ready and willing to meet their needs and wants.
Three marketing strategies that will help you with niche marketing are:
1. Differentiation is figuring out how your business is unique so that when prospects are ready to buy, they immediately think of your operation, not a competitor’s. A savvy marketer jumps out ahead of the herd – to create “top of mind marketing”. In its most simple form, differentiation is like word association – for example, what comes to mind when someone mentions “cola”, to you? Your next thought will probably be “Coke”.
Ask yourself, “What is my marketing edge over my competitors?” You know why your prospects should buy from you, (for example, your product is superior, your after sales service is second to none, you offer the most choice, you deliver on time and at the price quoted, etc.) Make the most of these differences to stand out. (Photo by Marnie Somers)
2. Positioning is identifying how your business is at the very top of your “niche” in the market. People like to buy from the best - it gives them bragging rights to impress their friends with. Create a tagline (a business slogan) which identifies your business as the top “whatever”.
Don’t be shy about letting your clients know your claim to fame. If you and another competitor can both equally make the same claim, then make that claim first - before your competitor does. It’s pretty hard to knock you off your pedestal, if you get there first. (You know what they say, “You snooze, you lose!”)
3. An Elevator Pitch is one of the best tools you can have in your marketing kit. What’s that? It’s what you have time to tell someone about your business, in the time it takes to ride a couple of floors in an elevator. When you are comfortable with it, you’ll never be at a loss for words. (A personal confession here - before I developed mine, I always hesitated, saying to myself, ”Oh gosh, where do I start?”, when someone asked me, “What line of business are you in?”) Now that I have my elevator pitch down pat, I begin speaking with confidence, get my message across quickly, AND sound like I know what I’m talking about.
If you are having trouble coming up with twenty-five words or less, start your pitch with “We help our customers with ………”. As an example, here’s mine: “We help our customers build their businesses using proven Internet Marketing Strategies, such as building their websites and handling their email marketing campaigns.” My elevator pitch takes only 23 words. And if the person you are speaking to is truly interested in what you do, they will come back with a question, such as “I see, so what other strategies do you use?”. Then the conversation moves forward from there. (But, here’s a helpful hint: if you’re actually on an elevator, you had better have your business card ready in your pocket to hand over before they step off.)
- Do you agree? What other strategies do you use in marketing to your “Niche”? You're invited to post your comments and advice below.
- As small and medium size businesses, we are all in this together and we can help each other by being mentors to each other.
There I was surfing the web, researching material on Enewsletters as an Internet marketing tool when, lo and behold, I came across an E-book titled “It Sure Beats Working” by Michael Katz. Given that I was really goofing off anyway, this title seemed to really suit the moment. I was truly hoping that this was going to turn out to be my salvation from the rigours of the working world. While the book turned to be a really good read, it was, unfortunately, not my hoped-for salvation!
Katz’s book is subtitled. “29 Quirky Stories and Practical Business Lessons for the First-time, Mid-life, Solo Professional”. This should have been my first clue that the infamous four-letter word “work” was going to be involved. Katz does have a quirky sense of humour, so reading the book and reviewing the lessons was the easy part. (Helpful hint: actually putting the lessons to work will be the hard part).
While anyone who is thinking about publishing an Enewsletter would benefit immensely from reading this book, the “29 Practical Business Lessons” can be equally beneficial for a solo entrepreneur in any business. So, here’s the link to download the book. Did I mention it’s a FREE E-book and you can have it on your computer screen in a flash for signing up for Katz’s weekly Enewsletter? Just visit Michael Katz’s website, to access the download.
But I digress, back to reality and this current blog post about using Enewsletters as an Internet marketing tool. And, how do they stack up against other tools, such as a blog for instance? In my humble opinion, (well not as humble as is perhaps warranted) you don’t have to choose between one tool and another.
You wouldn’t play golf with only one club in your bag, would you? No, you use drivers, irons and putters to really “have game”. Same thing with marketing. Nowhere is it written (not even on the ‘Net) that you can’t have both a blog and an Enewsletter in your club bag.
“And, why would you want to do twice the work?” you rightly ask. Well, just like you wouldn’t want to putt with your driver, these tools serve different aspect of your game. A blog for the most part, must be found and linked to by the intended reader, and therefore is considered sort of a finesse tool for your short game.
An Enewsletter is the opposite and is considered more of an outgoing marketing tool. Think driver versus putter. You take “Big Bertha” out, make a big backswing and let fly. You send it out to all your contacts, colleagues, clients and potential customers (permission-based lists, of course) i.e. it’s your long game. That being said, the actual content of the two tools can be similar. After all, some folks like to read blogs and others prefer Enewsletters. As marketers, don’t we want to reach both types of readers with our valuable content?
Speaking of valuable content (what a segue) I’ll bet you’re thinking great – I’ll start an Enewsletter and market the heck out of my products/services. That’s what I thought too. Only I was wrong. If all you do is market speak “at” your readers, you won’t have them for longer than it takes them to hit the “delete” key in their email inboxes.
So, what then? Well, my good friend Michael Katz (remember him from paragraphs 1 through 3) says that’s the totally wrong approach. Rats! Just when I was thinking I had it all figured out, Mr. Katz advises that “You need to build relationships with your readers by offering them valuable information that they need to solve their problems.
Only after you have built up your readership (for a blog or an Enewsletter), will readers tolerate a modicum (just a smidge) of self-promotional content, provided that it’s discretely placed after more valuable content. Got that? It bears repeating, “More valuable content”. I have to admit I really desperately want to hit my intended audience with all the promotional material I can – I want the sales. But then I asked myself, “Why would I want to read that stuff, if I was the recipient?” Of course, I wouldn’t. I would only want WIIFM (what’s in it for me) or I’d be taking dead aim at that ever-so-helpful “delete” key.
The moral of this story is: Ya gotta give ‘em what THEY want, not what YOU want. OK, OK, I get the message Mr. Katz. I may not like it, but I WILL do it the right way. Because there’s really no point in writing for the “delete” key is there?
So, you say it scares the bejesus out of you to think about having to write “more valuable content” for your Enewsletter? Then, as I said before, read the book. What book, you ask? (You have a short attention span, don’t you?) “It Sure Beats Working”, by Michael Katz.
I’ll be sending out my brand-spanking-new Enewsletter this month; just as soon as I really get the “29 Practical Business Lessons”, and finish writing “more valuable content”.
I’d welcome your comments below on whether or not you agree with the premise that an Enewsletter should serve up valuable informational content versus self-promotional content?
My personal favourite Google tool is Google Analytics, covered in a previous post. But Google offers many valuable tools for website owners. Here are three more “must-have” tools:
- Google AdWords is an application which may improve the effectiveness of your web site (not free – you pay a fee and you’ll need a Google account which is free). The essence of this strategy, according to Google is, “You (or your webmaster) creates ads and chooses keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business. When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search results. Now you are advertising to an audience which is already interested in you. Visitors can simply click on your ad to visit your website. Don’t worry about costs – AdWords puts you in complete control of your spending. There’s no minimum spending requirement – the amount you pay for AdWords is up to you. You can, for instance, set a daily budget of five dollars and a maximum cost of ten cents for each click on your ad. We provide keyword traffic and cost estimates so you can make informed decisions about choosing keywords and maximizing your budget. You’re charged only if someone clicks your ad, not when your ad is displayed.” For more information about Google AdWords, visit their web site at: http://adwords.google.com/
- Google AdSense can be considered the opposite of Google AdWords (again you’ll need a Google account which is free). According to Google, AdSense is “The flexible, hassle-free way to earn revenue online. Web site owner get paid for displaying targeted Google ads on your site. You can customize ads to match your site’s look and feel. You can track your success with online reports. It’s Free! With AdSense, you’ll pay nothing, spend little time on set-up, and have no maintenance worries.” For more information about Google AdSense, visit their web site at: https://www.google.com/adsense/www/en_US/tour/index.html
- Google Website Optimizer is a free website testing and optimization tool, which according to Google “Allows you to increase the value of your existing websites and traffic without spending a cent. Using Website Optimizer to test and optimize you web site’s content and design, you can quickly and easily increase revenue and ROI whether you’re new to marketing or an expert.” For more information about Google Website Optimizer, visit their web site at: http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer.
We highly recommend that you begin to utilize the above Google marketing tools (or other competitive applications available) to measure the effectiveness of your website. You should also be measuring and evaluating all the human, financial and physical resources you are investing in your website to ensure they are bringing you the best ROI (return on investment).
We invite you to comment below on your experience with the above-mentioned Google tools. Or, offer suggestions for other such tools which have helped you to measure the effectiveness of your website.
“Netiquette” means exhibiting good manners when using the Internet, including creating and distributing marketing email messages.
Ten Email Do’s and Don’ts!
- Do add a compelling subject line which can be searched and found easily. Don’t miss out on this prime piece of email real estate. An interesting subject line hooks people into reading the content of your email – that’s the whole point.
- Do re-read and spell check your outgoing email – your professionalism is at stake. Set your email program to auto correct errors as you type, and do a final spell check before you hit the “send” button.
- Do provide your contact information – all of it. Include links to your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. You can automate this in your email program under “insert signature”, and then you just have one click to insert all your contact info into each email you send out. It’s the courteous thing to do, so people can reach you.
- Don’t send “spam” (unsolicited commercial email). Only send email to those with whom you have an established relationship (see “Email Permissions” paragraph below). Spam has grown exponentially over the years and today amounts to approximately 80 to 85% of all the email in the world. It is arguably one of the “dark sides” of the Internet.
- DON’T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS in the body of your email – it is considered the equivalent of “shouting” at someone! IT’S NOT POLITE TO SHOUT!!!
- Don’t reveal other recipients’ email addresses in the “TO” or “CC” boxes. If you are sending out a bulk email message to 100 recipients – you are revealing what should be 100 confidential email addresses. Instead put your own name (or a generic name such as “Recipient List” and use your own email address) in the “TO” box. You can then put your 100 email address list in the “BCC” box – and no other recipients’ email addresses will show up in the delivered email copy.
- Don’t automatically hit the “reply all” button if you only need to “reply” to the original sender – everyone is overloaded with unwanted and unnecessary email. Don’t add to the problem.
- Don’t use a former email on “Subject A” to send a new email on “Subject B”. It makes it difficult for the receiver to file and retrieve. Start with a fresh email or, if you must use a previous email, at least be sure you change the subject line to your new topic.
- Don’t abuse the options of flagging your email as “important” or requesting a “delivered” or “read” receipt. If you always use these options (it’s the equivalent of “crying wolf”) and no one will pay attention to any of your emails.
- Do Use Email “Permissions” for mass distributed marketing messages. So, when is a legitimate email marketing message not considered “Spam”? When the sending party has implicit or actual permission from the addressee to make contact. Typically this means having an established business connection with the addressee, such as someone who has:
purchased a product or service from your business in the past – i.e. a previous customer;
purchased a product or service from your business recently – i.e. an existing customer;
signed up to receive a periodic newsletter, or special offers from your business;
“likes” or “follows” your business Facebook page, or blog;
initiated contact with your business by email, telephone, written correspondence, or submitted comments or an enquiry on your website’s guest book or “Contact Us” form;
provided you with their business card;
Let’s say your “Email permissions” list becomes too cumbersome to handle – you have so many contacts and/or you have so many email marketing messages to send out (woo hoo!). You can move up to using email campaign management software such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp (some fees will apply) to automate the process and save you loads of time. Such software also provides statistics on delivered/opened mail which is useful for measuring your reach. However, when you start using these programs you will be required to sign off that all your contacts are “Permission-based”. So you might as well keep your contact list(s) “clean” right from the start so as not to be considered a “Spammer”.
We invite you to comment below. Do you agree with these "Netiquette Tips" or do you have some more to contribute?