I have an embarrassing admission to make. Up until recently, I was doing business as a Jane-of-all-trades. When someone asked me what I did, I’d answer “anything anyone will pay me for,” adding as an afterthough, “as long as it’s legal.” A girl has to have boundaries. The line always got a laugh, but never landed me any work.
I know what it’s like. You’ve just launched your business and you’re super excited to tell the world about it. You’re also seriously nervous. I mean, you’ve sunk everything into this project, taken the leap of faith, and really, really want it to work. Your plan is to do as much as possible for as many people as possible. After all, you’ve got a lot of legit skills and products, why shouldn’t you put them all out there? Why shouldn’t you pitch to every prospect that comes along? It only makes sense that the more people you pitch, the bigger your business will be … law of averages, right?
Stop right there. Step away from the megaphone and the mass mailing list.
Ever heard of a niche? No, it’s not an exotic bird or some kind of communicable disease. A niche is, according to Merriam-Webster’s, a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.
Let’s talk turkey – or, rather, songbirds.
I’ve always been an avid birder. Go ahead and make the geek jokes. It’s okay. I’ve come to terms with it. I love spotting unfamiliar birds and looking up their particulars in one of my many bird books. I can name almost all the local species by sight, and many by call.
One of my favorite pastimes is feeding the little buggers. I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from watching my feathered friends as they gobble up pound after pound of premium birdseed. And, that’s where the niche thing comes in. For those not in the know, certain kinds of seed attract certain kinds of birds. What appeals to a chickadee or a sparrow just won’t do it for a finch or an oriole.
If you’re serious about attracting a particular species, you have to get serious about creating the perfect environment for that species.
Building bird nirvana
There are a few things to consider when attempting to make your place an irresistible birdie hangout:
The right food
As noted above, each species has a favorite food. You need to learn about what should be on the menu – certain seeds, fruit and nuts, or maybe some nice suet.
In your business, the right food is a combination of your content and your products or services. You need to get crystal clear about what is more attractive to your perfect prospect. What information and support is going to make them drop whatever they’re doing to beeline it to your place?
The right feeder
In addition to specialized food, birds have preferences about feeders. Some birds prefer a net-style feeder to the typical perch style. Some feeders are simply too small to accommodate larger birds. When you’re talking marketing, the feeder is the delivery mechanism. In the case of content, think about what type of medium is best for your audience – a blog, an Email newsletter, live Webinars or teleseminars, multimedia presentations, audio podcasts, hard copy collateral. Sometimes, just presenting your information in the right format can make all the difference.
The right environment
Finally, you’ve got to create the right environment for the birds’ dining experience. It won’t do you any good to put out primo seed in the perfect feeder if your backyard is under construction or home to a bunch of boisterous kids with a penchant for throwing things at birds. Even the wrong type of foliage, too much sunlight, or placing the feeder too far from cover can ruin all your best intentions.
Your business needs to provide a welcoming environment where your prospects feel comfortable, safe, and like they’ve made the right decision. The visual aspects (branding, Web presence, collateral) and personality of your business help you create the right ambiance.
But, what about the other birds?
Here’s where the niche thing comes in. This is the most important piece of the puzzle. Are you ready? You can’t care about the other birds.
Once you’ve decided which bird you’re trying to attract, you must focus on that bird, and that bird alone. You need to deliver exactly what that bird wants and needs. In fact, attracting other species may keep the one you’re after from venturing into your yard. Jays, for instance, are notorious for chasing off smaller birds. If you put out a generic feed that the jays like, you’ll find that they quickly take over the territory.
Now, this isn’t to say that – as you expand – you can’t create multiple environments in your yard for different kinds of birds. You just have to do it carefully and consciously. It’s best to focus on one species at a time and then build carefully so you don’t jeopardize your initial success.
Bottom line: Get focused. Pick your niche. Identify your perfect customer and learn everything you can about her. Serve her favorite dish on a silver platter & become the go-to provider for that species.
Good luck & happy “birding!”
This post is part of my “Marketing According to Mother Nature” series. From the birds and the bees to sharks and wildebeests, the natural world is full of metaphors that provide surprisingly relevant marketing insights. Take a walk on the wild side – you never know what might inspire you.