Now in the current market and more than ever, you may be tempted to define your clients as any and every one who walks past you down the street. Everyone needs a place to live, right? Concerns over the economy and a desperate need for lead generation may persuade you to apply the salt-shaker method of marketing: sprinkle it all over and hope that something sticks! But this panic-mode thinking could be the biggest mistake you make all year, resulting in wasted time, money and resources.

In order to get the most of your marketing efforts, in this economy especially, you need to follow the rules of niche marketing. In-N-Out Burger fast food restaurants are a perfect example of niche marketing. Never meant to appeal to everyone, never meant to take over McDonalds’ or Burger King’s market share, this successful hamburger joint has a limited menu consisting of only three different sandwiches: the hamburger, cheeseburger, and the “Double-Double” (double meat/double cheese.)

Though times have changed since the chain opened its first restaurant in 1948 in Baldwin Park, California, little has changed at In-N-Out. The menu – burgers, fries and drinks – is still the same basic menu customers have always enjoyed. Have they expanded their menu to have other kinds of sandwiches and entrees? No. Loyal burger eaters know that when they want a good quality burger, IN-N-OUT is the place to go. They do not spend marketing money advertising the latest Chicken Sandwich Spectacular because they don’t have one. They focus on what they do best.
As a small business owner, what lessons can you learn from IN-N-OUT?

Now is exactly the time to refocus your time, money, and resources in a similar manner. When all three may be in short supply, it only makes sense to concentrate on your niche, the group of people most assured to bring you certain returns, the group of people you want to work with and concentrate on.

If you don’t know them already, choose who those people are.

  • Who best benefits from the specific services you offer—and deliver–better than anyone else?
  • Who already has benefited from your services and is now a “Raving Fan?”
  • Who do you know who “talks up” your services and serves as your Goodwill Ambassador?

After you have determined the WHO, analyze the WHERE.

  • What do these groups you have identified have in common and where do they come from?
  • Are those who benefit most from your services within a certain age group? Geographic location? Job or organization?
  • Those who are your Raving Fans are clearly past clients and referrals, but where do you find them now?
  • The Goodwill Ambassadors are clearly your sphere, but where do you find them? The family tree? The immediate neighborhood? Church? Clubs?

Then of course, you must apply the HOW. How will you reach that target once you have identified it? If seniors are the most likely to respond to your services and inventory, you will probably not concentrate solely on internet strategies But similarly, if you have a Gen-X or Y population clamoring for your services, you need to be well established with the latest technologies, communication platforms including social media networking sites, and expertise. Know how to reach your clients and where to spend your time and money.

And remember your goals. If you are planning to double your business within the next five years, then the HOW must include the resources you will need to market to and service your niche.

Don’t succumb to the fear that if you don’t court every potential client, you won’t have any clients at all. Make your niche as carefully designed a part of your business plan as your budget. If you focus your time and resources and serving the burger-loving clients the best way you possibly can, you will attract more of the same. Leave the chicken-lovers to someone else.

This is the true key to Niche Marketing!