Creating an online audience from scratch is tricky. Traditional services and products have saturated online listings making it very hard for a new businesses to get their foot in the door. If you are a niche business, traditional online marketing like SEO and directories won’t work at first. One large challenge for a new niche is making people aware enough of what you are offering to search online for you. This isn’t a bad thing – if you are truly unique you will have no competition. This guide explores different marketing tactics that niche businesses can use to build an audience.
The first step is getting the idea into peoples heads. With a niche product or service it is vital you have a strong brand – something that people will instantly associate with your idea so they will remember and talk about it. A strong brand will help people who have heard about what you are doing find your online business. You want to have a website and social media. Have a strong logo that people can recognise and associate with you. It is also worth thinking about a colour scheme that people will subconsciously relate to your business. This makes what you are doing easier to remember.
Remember that as a niche you will have to really focus on the quality of your product. This should come across in your branding. A very high quality product needs high quality packaging and branding.
Market research is a great tactic to getting people aware of what you are doing while making sure that you are creating a product that people want. When you have created your brand make some business cards or flyers. Make sure your brand is clear and that you have social media (more detail in the next segment) as well as your website showing clearly.
Go around your local area offering people either a free sample of your product, or just quizzing them on whether they think the service you are offering is helpful. If people like what you are offering ask them to follow your social media – it may be a good idea to have a tablet available so that people can follow you. Over time you should get a following on social media – if you don’t it is a fairly clear indication that you are doing something wrong and need to go back to the drawing board. Listen to any criticisms people give you.
This may sound like a costly way of creating an audience – but it is the right way. If you are offering something which is truly niche, unique and popular then the market research and social media follow acquisition will pay for itself later on. The problem with unique business models is that people need to know why they will benefit from them and the best way of doing that is to give away freebies. This may cost a lot at first but it is a necessary step.
A great way of generating a buzz about a niche is launching it when you think you will get most seasonal business. For example, if you run a chocolate and roses delivery service valentines day would be a good time for doing this. Even if you are a year round business branding yourself to target seasons can really create a buzz.
You don’t need to be in the launching phase to do this. With the correct branding you can present your niche as relevant for the next big holiday. This will increase the chance of people sharing your product on social media. If you are launching or relaunching it is often a good idea to give people a seasonal deal. If people think they are getting a one off deal they will be far more likely to tell their friends.
Using social media to grow your niche
As your social audience grows make sure to interact with them. Try and make a few posts each week and if anybody comments on what you are saying make sure to reply to them. Don’t only push for sales. Competitions are a great way of interacting with your social audience. If you are on Facebook chances are you will have seen something along the lines of:
“Share this post and like my page for a chance to win a prize.”
“Share this post and like my page for a free…”
This can reach a much larger audience then your market research for much cheaper. If you have 100 followers and they each have 100 friends you have at least 10,000 people who can potentially see your competition. If you are giving away something good then people will follow you and share your posts. Engagement on social media works on the viral model. The more people like and share your posts the higher percentage of your and their friends will see the post and the more people will like your page.
Make sure you are giving something that people really want. A few months supply of whatever you are selling may sound like a lot but without steady search engine traffic you will need an audience. Even though it is very easy to enter a competition like this it is important that you make people think ‘WOW I really want that’ so that you can reach the largest possible group.
Hash tags are also a great way of generating interest particularly on twitter. Think about what your ideal customer or client would be interested in and then with the right hash tag you can be seen by thousands of people. Try and keep tweets short and don’t overdo the amount of hash tags – more than two per post seem to damage the chance of appearing.
Paid social media
If your audience has been growing it may be worth investing in some paid social media marketing. This is particularly effective because people put their interests up on social media and most platforms have ways of targeting people by these interests. Creating a niche health or sports product? You can target people with interests relating to health or sport. A new cooking device can be targeted at chefs. Depending on what you are doing different social networks have different advantages. The main ones being:
Facebook: is the largest social network which allows you to reach the largest potential audience. Facebook is used on average six days a week by it’s users and is the second most used website after Google.
LinkedIN: is a business to business (B2B) social network. If your niche is aimed at professionals make sure you are linked in.
Twitter: is the fastest moving social network. Twitter makes great use of #hashtags. A lot of people use Twitter to market their ideas so in that sense it is somewhere between Facebook and Linked In.
Instagram: is the photo sharing network. If you are doing anything which you can portray in images it is well worth using Instagram. Images are more likely to go viral than text.
Google+: by launching their own social network and giving more weight to signals coming from Google+ for SEO purposes Google have created a network which business have to use. Google+ has been the quickest growing network and well worth using if you are planning on ranking highly for competitive search terms on Google.
Crowdfunding tactics for your niche
This section now has a 1500 word guide on how best to use kickstarter, and how you can take advantage of your project to make a niche go viral.
Websites like kickstarter and gofundme have become very popular recently. People give you money for product development and advertising. In return you give them a limited edition present as thanks. If you have plenty of social followers and are starting to generate a bit of business then you might want to start thinking of how you could use crowdfunding to expand into other products or services.
Alternatively you can use crowdfunding to ask for advertising money and this is a great way of advertising a niche business. Crowdfunding websites get a lot of traffic and this is where your strong branding comes back into play. You want to encourage your social followers to crowdfund you, and you want to encourage those funding you to follow your social media.
If your product has been developed it tends to be good to set a fairly low goal. If you aim to high and don’t achieve your goal you don’t get paid. Projects with low targets often get over funded and get to keep additional investment. Crowdfunding websites are all or nothing. Additionally if you are aiming way to high then people won’t take the time to read about what you are doing. Choose a crowdfunding platform and use it to create free brand awareness. The crowdfunding should help you recuperate what you might have spent with market research.
While your product may be new and not searched for you still want to be appearing high up for relevant searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo. If somebody has heard about what you are doing and can’t remember your web address you don’t want to miss a chance of them discovering your niche. Find ideas that might be linked to what you are doing and blog about them. This gives you something to engage your social audience with as well as giving you a platform to build targeted landing pages for specific searches.
The goal by creating a strong brand and large audience is to eventually get search traffic from people searching for you by brand. When this takes off you will be able to see steady growth. If you are looking to start getting ranked on Google read the startup SEO guide for an in depth strategy.