“The secret to being the best in the world is to make the 'world' smaller: narrow your niche." - Seth Godin
Nice quote from Seth but being niche sounds like a scary proposition. At least, identifying a niche was scary for us at Tonic. When we started, we knew we wanted to consult with other businesses, to take what we had learned through our agency experience and translate it to companies across different industries. We made the conscious decision to go for breadth - and not depth - since we thought we could apply our knowledge to help any business grow and, to be honest, we were fearful of missing out on potential clients. So our pitch was: we could help any business, in any industry, of any size solve their sales & operations challenges. As you can imagine – our pitch fell on deaf ears. To be honest, our pitch probably didn’t even reach deaf ears. After talking to a number of companies, and even after having some small success, we knew we had to shift if we really wanted to grow. We had to pick a lane. Luckily for us, our lane was pretty obvious. We quickly realized we had a unique quality: a collective 60+ years’ experience in the experiential marketing industry. We knew this space intimately. We knew all the challenges agencies face. We had contacts and a reputation in the industry. We had a niche staring us straight into the eyes, we just needed to be brave enough to go with it! Immediately, we edited our website, business cards & LinkedIn profile and blazed forward – confident in our niche. With that focus, we were able to strategically identify our prospects and within one month we had our first significant client. By the end of the year, our revenue goals had doubled our initial projections and we now have a portfolio of clients & experience that we can reference with new prospects.
You're probably now thinking: “Wow! Good for you guys (maybe even sarcastically?)! But how do I take all the capabilities, all of the different skills and talents at our agency and narrow that down? Better yet - WHY would I do that?”
Having experienced this ourselves, we know what you are thinking:
I don’t want to narrow my market and limit my customer base;
If I go too niche, I might be missing out on all sorts of other clients who will never find me;
A niche will pigeon hole my agency and I’ll leave revenue on the table.
We want to be everything to everyone for fear of being nothing to no one. For fear of missing out on potential clients or selling yourself short and not maximizing the potential with a client. However, the only way you'll be something special to anyone is by defining and owning your niche. The days of marketing generalists or clients hiring one agency to manage all of their needs are rapidly disappearing. Clients now want specialists and experts. They want leadership. They want agencies who are best in class. The key question you have to ask yourself is: “What does my agency excel at better than anyone else? What do we have that others don’t?” And please don’t tell us it's “your people” or “your process” - everyone has good people and a solid process. We’ve seen this challenge with nearly all of our clients – they have broad services & offerings, they can do “this” (generic term that everyone uses), and they can do “that” (another generic term used by all). They work with any client, in any industry and manage the whole kit and caboodle. This results in internal confusion, everyone selling something slightly different, and a lack of differentiation in the marketplace. Not owning a defined niche ultimately results in stagnant or declining sales. We’ve found over and over again that Seth Godin is right and the best part: there are real, tangible benefits to having a niche:
Targeted Sales & Marketing: Instead of having a broad, non-specific marketing approach you can optimize and maximize your sales & marketing campaigns with targeted, strategic campaigns. A targeted approach will also lower client acquisition costs, driving more dollars to your bottom line.
Expertise: You become known as an expert in your niche - the go-to agency that can answer a specific need. As an added benefit you’ll be able to charge more. Think about specialist doctors who charge a premium versus a General Practitioner. And who doesn’t want higher fees?
Competition: As in – you’ll have less since you’re in a specific niche. Who doesn’t want less competition?
Focus: Finding focus is incredibly powerful. By focusing on your niche, you’ll have a greater ability to truly understand and answer your client’s needs and how best to serve them, which results in contract renewals, organic growth, new clients and more revenue!
We challenge you to really look at your agency, your competition, your clients & prospects and ask yourself: Am I an expert in my field? Am I specialized and targeted in my approach & solutions? Am I growing? If you answered no to any of those questions, it might be time to find your niche! It may be challenging, but it’s absolutely necessary if you really want to grow your business.