If we can convert a defined number of prospects to customers, we can focus on who matters and forget the tyre kickers to make a success.
Our goals as businesses (and people) is to build a living and maintain growth within niche markets. I’m now going to go back to an article here from the dark ages when the iPhone wasn’t even a year old by Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine. Kelly wrote in March 2008 a famous article that stated that all we need is 1000 true fans to make a comfortable living. Click here to have a read.
“A true fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”
If you collate 1000 customers and find the space within the media landscape that is relevant to them, where they consume information to eventually buy, then you effectively never have to do any more marketing, not a drop, it’s done. Rather than saying that a huge number of customers has to be found, a realistic and manageable number needs to be a business’ ultimate goal. It relates to the idea that we need to change what we’re doing and focus on those who matter.
The Pinpoint Concentration On Our Audience
While I’m not saying the article is the magic formula for small businesses to build our audience and then stand back and watch customers continually come forward, with our arms folded and where we effectively become the next Amazon whose content is minimal but we always come back for more, it does give thought to focus on an audience and the way that we set our goals.
We can’t build our ‘fan bases’ quickly and think that the ‘this is the last chance I’ve got’ XFactor/Britain’s Got Talent approach via a plea is the way we should operate, then we will all face a heavy fall. The business world example of this is everywhere, just take a look around you at every ‘please like our page on Facebook’ message, ‘please retweet this‘ prompt or ‘download our free report’ directive. The begging bowls are prominent throughout every channel and the places we visit.
The main aspect to take from Kelly’s article (which is still relevant six years later) is that as businesses we need to focus and address a market that is receptive to your message and the ability to identify them. This becomes the factor to determine success or failure.
The Lighthouse Theory
Lets make things even more straightforward by explaining our businesses in terms of a lighthouse. The role it plays is to guide ships to shore rather than every ship in the sea. Taking focus off what needs to be addressed for a few moments and the ships are taken into the direction of crashing into the rocks.
This is a principal that can be applied for your business. Rather than looking to attract everyone within your marketplace, focus on those who matter, who rely on you for guidance and whom you trust. If you are looking to attract everyone, at some point the control you looked to have is overtaken by a sprawling mess of becoming everything to everyone. Focus is completely lost where eventually there are very few who turn to you. The word here that stands out above everything else are the five letters that spell ‘niche‘.
Nine Factors To Consider & Apply
If you are looking to control your niche and become recognised, there are a few factors to take into consideration and apply:
- Use technology to your advantage. It isn’t good practice to be everywhere purely because everyone else is. If you don’t think that you’ll be very active on Pinterest, don’t use it. Select the media platforms that you’ll be committed to and embrace them.
- Create a solution for your audience. If you can be associated with providing an answer to your marketplace to fulfil a way to make their lives better, then you become the source and not the mass sprawl of product/service options.
- Pick a subject to represent. Rather than become a glut of information covering a vast array of topics, find those subjects that are representative and have interest to your audience. For instance, if you are a print company, don’t start veering down the world of recruitment.
- Understand the audience persona. Segmentation is key to grasp how your audience reacts, behaves and their personal attributes. If we are all in the business of working with people, we have to know who they are rather than targeting everyone but target no one.
- Create content to build a framework. Producing information that is not only engaging but on a level for your audience to relate to and to drive a response from prospects to subscriber to customers, sets the momentum for creating a benchmark to work with and commit to it. Once content is created (written, spoken or video) it has to add value to others.
- Build membership. People want to feel that they are part of something. If someone has taken the time to subscribe to your site, then treating those who want to build a closer connection a bit differently can work. Rather than sending a message to your subscribers and then ten minutes later the same message is seen on every social media space, make sure those who want to be part of what you do, feel like they are part of what you do. They are in your space, treat them well.
- Community development. Having purpose to what you provide and taking this to a wider scale to benefit others (to educate and give back what you have learnt), can help add credence to what you stand for and the personality that you deliver.
- Connecting on a personal level. If we are to play the long game, lets become more human and interact with others. One person who does this with his weekly enewsletter is Chris Brogan. His subscriber list must be many 000s, but his Sunday message that is sent to everyone’s ‘in box’ has such a personal level to it.
- Find a rhythm and maintain the conversation. There is nothing worse than committing to an audience with various forms of communication and then stopping. This is all about being fit and conditioned to run the marathon, rather than being unprepared and failing after the first few miles.
To build an audience who will stay beside you, you cannot simply target those with a pulse. It’s the answers you provide and the ease you deliver to others that makes what you do compelling. Coming back to Kevin Kelly’s seminal article, businesses need to inspire others to make a change and once a rapport and rhythm is built, it can become difficult to break that bond.