Consider: you live in Northcote, or Portland or East London. You have a fine, full manly beard, a fixie and visions of selling sushi tacos or vegan jackfruit pulled pork sandwiches. You’re looking for some advice. What message do you think is more likely to catch your eye: ‘How to set up a new business’ or ‘10 steps to crushing it with a killer food truck?’

I mean it’s totes obs, right? If you deeply understand someone’s needs and target them specifically, they can’t fail to notice.

But at the same time, if you’re in business it takes massive amounts of courage (or a couple of large jackfruit) to consciously uncouple from a market of ‘everyone’ and purposefully limit yourself to a smaller number of potential customers.

But put on your poker face, narrow your focus, and learn from one of the hipsters’ favourites:

“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”

While the dream of a Microsoft-like ‘computer in every home’ is nice, ultimately to run a successful business you just need enough of the right customers. And here’s how niching is key.


Niching helps people know instantly you’re for them

Pedigree says “We’re for dogs”, because they believe dogs rule. I’ve heard dog owners talk about how much they love this campaign, how much they appreciate someone who recognises how important their pet is to them. ‘We’re for dogs’ is shorthand for ‘we’re for the people who love dogs and want them happy and healthy’. It’s a signal that their branding goes deep into the DNA of their business, that everything that Pedigree will do will be for the love of dogs. Begone, cat lovers, sayonara fish fanatics. We’re for dogs.

 With a deep understanding of your target’s needs, problems, goals along their journey, you can be more proactive about what you say and do, and the language you use to say it, which immediately feels more personalised.


Niching means you won’t waste time wondering what you need to say

We’ve talked before about how relevant messages can capture your attention, the way an English word jumps out when you’re surrounded by Japanese kanji in a crowded Tokyo street. Your customer doesn’t have to work hard to get the message, and you don’t have to work so hard to get their attention. It’s a win win.

Writing more relevant content is suddenly 100 times easier, knowing which networking events to attend is more obvious and you are perfectly positioned to show your industry knowledge and specialisation in a believable way.


Focusing on a niche gives your business focus too

Knowing exactly who you are and who you are doing it for can make a big difference to how your business runs. It’s the secret that turned Lego away from the brink of bankruptcy after it had branched out into a range of non-core businesses it did not truly understand. A new CEO put the focus back on the brick and prioritised fans over internal designers. And now? Lego has this year overtaken Ferrari as the world’s most powerful brand (and you have to be pretty fast to overtake a Ferarri…)

Just like Lego, focusing on a distinct, unified customer segment helps inform your decision-making about new product development, packaging, customer service, brand partnerships and even your actions beyond selling your product.


A niche marketing plan a great way to spend a finite budget

With so many different channels available, from traditional to social media to digital advertising, it’s unlikely your marketing budget can stretch as far as you’d like. One way to get the coverage you need is to limit who you’re trying to talk to. With tight customer personas and a marketing plan based around your ideal customer, you can target readers of Wired magazine, wine delivery services, users of parents rooms at shopping centres or online HR sites secure in the knowledge that your marketing budget is being well spent talking to just the right person.


And finally, Google and Facebook will LOVE you.

Google have long been rewarding businesses for relevancy and usefulness, which is exactly what you get when you’re hyper-specific about who you’re trying to talk to. The more your content reflects what people are searching for when they are searching for it, the better your organic search results will be and the greater their conversion will be once they’re on your site. (More of the right customers? Right here).


When you’re ready to start focusing on a niche, here’s how:

“Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep”

You want the good customers – the ones who make you the most money, are great to deal with and who you are best able to help. Spend time analyzing your customer base to identify your A customers and use those as a model for your niche going forward.

Pitch yourself better –  what do they want? How do you help? Your brand positioning may need to be adjusted once you get more specific – do this, before you do anything else. Spell it out super clear that you are for them, and only them. It can be as simple as ‘I am XXX and I solve XXX for XXX (that’s your proposition in case you were wondering).

Work out who they really are and what they care about – create customer personas that reflect their lives, what they read, what they do, what they feel where they are – in writing if you like, or if you are visual, try a Pinterest board.

Reconsider your website – review your website in light of the above. Will it immediately hit your niche between the eyes with the message that it’s for them? Does it answer the questions they have? If not, redesign, or rewrite.

Write them love letters – when producing content like a blog post, think through your target’s goals and the big questions they have – then write your little heart out just for them. Write as if you were writing to just one person if it helps. And write, because you care.

Because after all, you’re for them.