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Starting a Business After 40: Part 1 – Finding a Niche Within an Industry to Stand Out
From Kabbage – Click Here for Full Article and Credits
Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a three part series about starting a new business after 40.
The biggest challenge business owners have is standing out against a sea of competitors. What makes your business unique? Why should customers buy from you rather than the guy down the street?
Once you hit 40, it seems like it’s even harder to attract attention as an entrepreneur. After all, there’s a lot of focus on young entrepreneurs, so without that media wave boosting you forward, you’ve got to work even harder to attract customers.
One of the best ways to get noticed and attract more business is to focus on a niche. Now, I know: it seems counterintuitive to say that if you serve a smaller group of the population, you’ll make more money, but it’s true. When you zero in and deliver products or services to a very specific audience, you’ll become known as a leader in that niche and will attract more customers than ever before.
How to Choose Your Niche
Think about your typical customers. Do they fall into a particular industry? Let’s say you sell marketing services, and 75 percent of your customers are software companies. This is a good niche to start with. But dive in even deeper: what type of software companies do you work with the most (or want to work with)? Maybe you really enjoy working with project management software brands, and you have some solid experience serving that subset of the software industry.
The smaller your niche, the better you can become known as the solutions provider for it. While “software” is a pretty big category, “project management software” is much smaller. But what if you then lasered in on project management software companies that cater to nonprofits? There might be no other marketing company serving such a specific niche. That’s good news for you!
How to Use Your Niche
Not only will your niche help you identify a very clear-cut and limited group of customers, but it will also guide your marketing. While we’ll talk more about marketing to your niche in Part 3 of this series on finding and leveraging your niche, let’s take a look at an overview of applying your niche to your marketing.
Because you know exactly who you’re trying to serve, you can use highly-targeted keywords to reach them. If you were to simply use “marketing for software company” in your web copy, you’d be competing against 386 million other search results. But when you instead use the niche keywords “marketing for nonprofit project management software,” there are only 11 million results, not all of which will be true competitors to you. Yes, 11 million is still a lot of results, but it’s significantly fewer than 386 million!
Once you know exactly who you want to reach with your niche marketing message, you can do a better job of finding them on social media. A little research may show you that people who run project management companies spend more time on LinkedIn than Twitter, so you can center your social media marketing efforts there.
You can also search niche keywords like we discussed above to find people to connect with on social media. Your audience may be using #nonprofit or #projectmanagement as hashtags, so search those to see who’s out there, then follow them.
In a deluge of content, it’s hard to stand out, but it’s significantly easier when you’re directing your blog articles, whitepapers and ebooks at a smaller niche. Even basic topics, like “how to use social media to market” can be tweaked to speak directly to your niche of project management software companies trying to reach nonprofits, and turned into “how to use social media to market your software to nonprofits.” This small change can have a large impact with your niche audience.
Benefits to Finding Your Niche
It will take a shift to move from the wider audience you’ve been serving to a more tailored, smaller group, but the payoffs will be large. As you build your portfolio (something we’ll cover in Part 2 of this series), you will attract more of your niche clientele, and they’ll tell others in their small industry about you.
If you’ve been offering some services or serving certain clients that you simply don’t enjoy, having a niche allows you to really focus on what you like the most. When you don’t have the extraneous services or customers, you can do a better job at delivering what you do best.
And finally, finding your niche gives you a real opportunity to make a splash. Even if the industry you’re focusing on is relatively small, you can be a big fish that everyone knows and turns to for assistance.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss how to get experience in your new niche. In Part 3, we’ll provide tips for marketing to your niche.