When you set out to create a marketing strategy for any business, the first step is to understand who your potential customers are. What motivates them? What are their goals? Where does your business fit into their lives? What struggles are they facing?
Say you wanted to promote a new fitness facility. “Sports” and “fitness” can cover a wide range of demographics—top-tier athletes, middle-aged guys in a rec league, women running the Boston Marathon, people trying to get back in shape after New Year’s, high school students looking to impress college scouts, and so much more.
It’s the same across every industry. You can’t target everyone, because most people won’t need your services. And that’s okay. You want to find the die-hard fans, the customers who will keep using your services for years to come. After all, acquiring a new customer can cost your business up to five times more than retaining an existing one. The way to find those die-hard fans is to do a little research and identify your target audience.
Figuring out your niche—and understanding the potential customers within it—is simple if you can follow these three steps:
Before you start to think about your target audience, you need to dig in and identify your core offerings. Ideally, you would be the only one selling your product or service, ensuring that customers have to come to you. But you can also think about what separates your business from the competition. What’s the number one thing that your customers can get from your business that they can’t get anywhere else? One of the best ways to narrow down your core offerings is to do some research to see what existing customers love about your business. What services do they use the most? Do they love your products? Or is it the responsiveness of your sales team? Is it the variety of convenient locations that sets your business apart? A few conversations with your existing customers can go a long way to finding out what your customers really love.
The whole purpose of niche marketing it to gain more customers. Not because you meet more needs, but because you meet a specialized one. Once you know what services are most popular, you can ask yourself, “who do I see finding the most value in them?” Your marketing efforts need to speak to the interests and goals of those customers above all others.
Going back to the fitness example, you can see that many gyms speak directly to their niche audience in a way that actually discourages other potential customers from using their services. Think of Planet Fitness, which primarily markets their low-cost membership model and easy-to-use machinery. They’re not looking to attract CrossFit fanatics or Olympic hopefuls, and their marketing strategy reflects that.
Now that you know your own strengths and who is most likely to benefit from them, you can start to identify who your audience is. A marketing persona gives you a sketch of the type of person who might be interested in your services. Typically, these are broken down by age, location, and other demographic data, as well as data relevant to your business—like their potential fitness goals.
Recently, we helped develop a new brand powered by Campbell Clinic introduce a sports performance and wellness facility. During the brand launch, we created several in-depth personas to represent the types of athletes who would be interested in their services. These descriptions were included on the website and in marketing materials. Now, potential customers can read each persona and see which services were designed with them in mind. Not every business will use their marketing personas in this way. Their main purpose is to provide an outline of who your ideal customers are, what their day-to-day lives are like, the challenges or pain points they face, and how they make decisions. It’s a tool you can use behind the scenes to understand and connect with your customers, so you can attract new customers and keep them coming back to your business year after year.
When it comes to building and increasing engagement, your marketing strategy needs a little something extra. For our sports marketing example, it makes sense to incorporate the spirit and aspirational mindset that goes along with athletic performance. You’re selling services designed to push people to achieve and transform into the best version of themselves—and your marketing efforts should reflect that.
There’s something about getting out and producing endorphins that creates this positive, uplifting feeling in people. So, capturing the optimistic, confident attitude of “I can do this,” the excitement of competition, and the awe-inspiring nature of what people are capable of, those are the things that you see over and over in sports marketing.
So, how do you capture that magic within your niche? No matter what market you’re targeting, take a look at how people are already engaging with other brands and fans. Once you understand how they relate to one another, you can tailor how you talk about your services. The imagery you share, the tone you use, and how you interact with potential customers should mirror the conversations people in your niche are already having.
As a brand, talk with your potential customers the way they talk about their favorite things—while still explaining how your services can help them reach their goals.
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