How to find the access point of your niche
Last week we took a better look at how you can find a unique market for the work you do. Hopefully, that post was able to drum up some ideas of what audiences you are most equipped to work with out there.
I had split this information up because of how massive the text was getting, so I wanted to make sure you had enough time to process ways to find the people you should be reaching out to with your products and services.
I have this friend, who every time I say that I just spent a few months learning this new thing, she chimes in with
“What good to you is a resource if you don’t evaluate or try to use what it teaches?”
Well, that’s what she had said when I was talking a while back about having been learning more about finding my niche.
When you have found the market that you’re most equipped to serve you now have to figure out how to reach them where it will be most effective.
How do you start reaching out
When I had met with Juan in April, we had talked about the contacts that we have that we might reach out to in our network about doing work together.
He has a decent amount of clients that he’s still in contact with but like all of us doing client work, we wonder how we can expand what we do and start getting the clients that we want.
When we consider reaching out to people within our network about business opportunities, sometimes we risk sounding like the dark-end of marketers who consistently try to “use” a person to gain what they want. But one thing we have as designers, and hopefully you have learned this skill by now, is the ability to find out what it is that your market wants, and deliver that to them through what you do.
The easiest way for us to know what someone wants is to do some research on the customers that we are trying to reach.
Use Customer Personas
Why? As designers, we should be getting into the mindset of the people that we are designing for. Just like we do for other people’s businesses, we need to do so for our own companies.
There is a lot of stigma against using fake customer personas, and though I recommend having actual conversations with people in your niche, sometimes that’s not possible yet, and you’ll have to make do with some “ideal” candidates that you made for your company.
Maybe later, I’ll create a resource on how to talk to people who are in your target market, let me know if that’d be helpful and I can work on making that (:
By putting together a few of these customer personas together, **you’re getting a decent set of key things to look for **when talking to people within your network.
These personas also should give you useful insights into the habits they have and the opportunities you have to reach them.
Think of yourself as a bird watcher
You are looking for:
- basic demographic info (age ranges, situational history, etc.)
- where they hang out
- what their daily habits are
- the activities they have outside of daily habits
- groups with common attributes
- what goals they work to achieve
- what motivates them
- what their values are
These by no means replace an actual interaction you might get with somebody who works in the specific space you’re trying to reach.
But understand that as you start to do work with other people or have people buying your thing, this starts to inform how correct your initial customer persona was and who you’re actually attracting with your business.
This is something that I help companies with personally through So Magnetic.
As an example, here’s what I put together for a previous client
The type of people most likely to be making a decision of which company to hire for recruitment campaigns are working in the pharmaceutical and biotech fields.
They are scientists and business people coordinating the hundreds of moving parts required to run clinical trials and get drugs approved by the FDA. It’s not their first rodeo.
Most people who have hired CM already are baby boomers or in their 40s The main decision makers CM wants to get hired by are older folks who have years of experience in the pharma world.
They would rather pay a little more to have a sure-fire service that actually WORKS than pay less for a crappier service that may or may not work.
CM’s clients are typically less impressed by bells and whistles and more impressed by data and numbers.
The type of companies that CM’s target market is going to come into contact with are:
Competition: (other biotech and pharmaceutical companies)
Search engine results: Clinical Research Companies vying for attention on SEO
Medical research media companies: (Medical journals, etc)
Regulated institutions that approve drugs from clinical trials
Some of you may have to go deeper than this, but others may not have to dive so far. It’s up to you to decide. Just know that it’s best to get familiar with your ideal clients and customers for your goals.
Access is something that is not taken by force. It has to be welcomed by the people who are already there or have been there before. If we have looked at who we are best equipped to help, have a decent understanding of what they value
Where do they hang out
The beauty of the internet is that everybody uses the internet.
And the fact that everybody uses the internet means that you can ask the same questions they ask when trying to achieve something, and all you need to do is go to our favorite search engine and type in:
“How do I [whatever it is that your niche struggles with]?” (This was covered in part 1)
When I do the research that I need to craft ideal brand identities for companies, I take what I know of the customers that my clients are looking to reach out to and I look for the things they are most likely to look up when they are trying to achieve what my client offers.
This activity ends up giving me a good list of:
- Websites they may check for information
- Question and comment threads on the topic
- Products that they use to do their task
- Product reviews
- News surrounding what they do/look for
- Events that pertain to the subject
- Competitors in the same space
- Other companies or charities that service other areas of my niche’s goals
With this list in hand, I can now** look at specific ways that are opportunities for us to do differently or “Shake up” what people already know** about their space.
Not every area needs disruption, so it’s essential to move with tact and not barge in with your solution.
Imagine if you’re a smelly dude that uses a specific bar of soap. Someone burst into your bathroom while you were showering trying to sell you a different type of body wash. I imagine this wouldn’t be received very well.
If you had a conversation somewhere else with them first, maybe they might consider your solution in a way that didn’t require you barging in on sacred spaces like that.
Maybe they met at a bar, a concert, a clothing store, etc. and that is where the product was introduced.
Maybe he had been following your product for months until he made the decision to switch to it. You never know until you consider where they hang out and at what part of the buyer’s journey someone is at with your brand.
My group truly doesn’t hang out online
I know what you’re thinking.
My niche market doesn’t actually hang out online… there’s no place for them to hangout there
Who is currently leading the space to what you do?
This gives you a place to look and see what ways they may be reaching the market you’ve been facing with a blank stare for a while. A way that gives you a fresh perspective outside of your own and may unlock a door that you haven’t thought about or actually dismissed in this process.
They probably still have a Facebook account
If my grandmothers and grandfathers have a facebook account, more than likely there is a facebook group that deals with a specific area that you are trying to reach. Use the search bar to look up various facebook groups that are within the space where you’re looking.
They are probably reading books or articles about what they do.
Someone somewhere has probably created a book, a magazine, a newsletter (like the physical kind) that answers questions about what it is that your market is looking for. What you can do here is find out how they get their content and look for doors that may be open or can be opened with some digging.
There’s probably an activity they do, or is common in their market. Use their personas
If they are offline, truly, there has to be some local place they go within their community to either learn more about what they do or to unwind. See if it’s accessible for you to meet someone in that area and get in the face to face conversations of the people you want to service.
Consider traditional advertising
Advertising isn’t dead yet. As long as the generations before us continue to survive, their traditional forms of media will still be valid. If Baby Boomers continue to listen to radio talk shows, consider a 15-second advert to place on their common traits you’ve discovered. Consider looking at tv, magazines, newspapers, editorials, newsletters, billboards, bulletin boards, charity and booth events, etc.
Wedge yourself into their environment in some way
Seriously, sometimes catching a door with your foot (either figuratively or literally) and making yourself known to them in a way that still adds value to their daily lives may be effective enough. Get a golf membership, a gym membership, join their book club, get in person contact some way and just add value to the thing they are already doing. People have been using this technique for ages. Watch any movie from 1985–2006 and there’s probably someone trying to catch a door before it closes with someone they wanted to talk to behind it.
Choose an easier to access niche or solve another problem you’re passionate about.
Seriously, look at all the work to be done. If you have the grit and the stomach for it, go ahead, just know that there are probably some easier things to solve first that may give you enough scratch to consider going after your first selected market in the first place. Consider the value of your efforts versus the value of the reward received as a result of your efforts. If the tradeoff makes sense. Keep going, otherwise, pivot.
You will close more sales the closer you can meet them in person
So if you have the opportunity to talk to someone in your niche market, you want to get as close to actual in-person communication as possible.
People don’t do business with businesses, they do business with people.
The hierarchy of what is best usually flows like this, and people may show up at any of these entrance points. The first method of communication is greater than the next…
In person > video call > phone call > email > recommendation > FaceBook > support chat on your site > fillable questionnaire
When you have the opportunity, meet face to face. Every step back is one more obstacle for a new prospect to trust your business. There is a magic about being able to see what someone honestly feels about doing work with you. And that gets masked the more someone is removed from the human and replaced by a business.
Leverage your network
If everything here is still ineffective, consider leveraging the network that exists for you personally.
There are only six degrees of separation that connect you to every living human being on the planet.
So if you know somebody, they may know somebody who knows somebody that eventually leads to new leads and prospects.
How many people are actually on this planet doesn’t matter, I’m sure there’s more than a 1 in 10 billion chance someone needs what you’re selling.
That’s why next week we’ll be talking about how you can build domain expertise with what it is you do, and ways that you can challenge the leaders.
Hopefully, you take some time to work on finding and connecting with the audience of people you’re trying to reach.
Finding a niche is difficult, but if you need some help, reach out and we can work on it together. (:
Darian Rosebrook, Compass of Design
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Brand Identity Designer for @itssomagnetic, running a design community at @compassofdesign. I write to help others grow their skills as designers.
Compass of Design
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