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Starting a Business After 40: Part 3 – Learning How to Market Yourself
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Finding and developing a niche in business is a great way to attract the kinds of people you want to work with, but don’t expect overnight success. You will need to work at positioning yourself as the go-to expert in your niche, as well as market your message in the right channels to reach your audience.
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed choosing your niche, and in Part 2 , how to gain experience in it. Here, let’s talk about marketing yourself in your niche. In her book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, author Dorie Clark provides several insightful tips to do just that.
Find Your Unique Selling Proposition
Clark says you need to know what’s unique about you so that you can convey it to others. This will be the basis of your marketing going forward. Additionally, she suggests you consider “what skills or abilities you possess that are in short supply in your new field.” Knowing what gaps there are that you can fill makes you even more attractive as a niche provider.
Clark also says not to fear being an outsider: even if you’re moving into an industry you have little to no experience in, find ways to relate the experiences you do have to making you uniquely qualified to view problems and solutions from a different angle.
Build Your Narrative
The next step in preparing your niche marketing is to craft your narrative:
“Humans understand the world around them through stories, narratives we tell ourselves about what’s happening and why,” Clark explains.
What is your brand, and why are you focused on this niche? Cut-and-dry answers won’t make your story resonate as well as a well-told narrative. Maybe your grandpa was in this industry and he taught you everything you know. That’s a story. Maybe you had a wake-up call after 10 years as an investment banker when you had a heart attack, and now you’re focused on living a better quality of life through your new company. Find a way to make your story relatable. Evoking emotions never hurts!
Apply Your Niche to Content Marketing
Content marketing is still one of the best ways to impart your knowledge on a topic, and the more niche that content is, the better. As you get to know your audience, you’ll better understand what topics they care about. Sometimes, though, it’s trial and error. In Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, Clark says:
“Sometimes you have to experiment with a lot of ideas and see which one sticks. If you’re unsure, let the market decide. Which posts receive the most comments, or retweets, or e-mail inquiries? What seems to capture people’s imagination? Finding your niche is not an exact science, and you often won’t know in advance what will work.”
Not sure where to start? Try conducting research and writing reviews, Clark suggests. Both give you authority in your field, and help expand your knowledge.
Also, Clark says that repurposing content gives you even more ways to reach people. For example, can you take one blog article and expand it into a longer ebook? Create a series of videos or emails? Share tidbits via Twitter?
Get to Know the Media
Another marketing technique Clark suggests in Stand Out is developing relationships with traditional media:
“Being quoted in the mainstream media is useful because they often still have large audiences, even in an era of fragmented reading and viewing habits. Plus, their third-party validation lends credibility to you. If you’re quoted in The New York Times or have appeared on the Today show, that’s a public signal that you’re an authority.”
Keep Your Own Marketing Channel Preferences in Mind
People may tell you that podcasting or videos are the must-have marketing tools, but if you’re uncomfortable with the medium, they won’t work for you. Clark says it’s no good forcing yourself to use a tool if you dislike it.
Instead, focus on the channels that make sense. If you enjoy writing, blogging and book-writing may be a natural fit. If you love speaking to your audience, video is worth considering.
Scale Your Efforts Strategically
Why help one person with your knowledge if you can help five…or 5,000? Clark brings up the example of Quora, a website people go to in order to find answers to their questions. Thousands of industry experts weigh in on questions, building their authority and credibility.
If you start getting the same questions from people over and over, realize that there are even more people out there that want the same questions answered. Determine the best way to help more people with your answer. You could post the question and answer to Quora, or write a blog post and then share it on LinkedIn. There are numerous ways to share your knowledge with more people with a little ingenuity.
Because you’re talking to such a small sector of the population about the niche you serve, your marketing needs to be extremely targeted and valuable. But the more value people get from your marketing messages and content, the higher your conversion to new customers will be!