As a creative business adviser and trainer I regularly see clients who have identified a target market because they think it will make the most money. Many of my crafts business clients focus on the high end luxury market, but they actually hate working for rich people who don’t appreciate their skills and love for making their hand-made work.
Is that you?! Don’t make that mistake!
The end result is that you will feel upset, frustrated, uninspired and won’t do the best work you can do. To be able to have a thriving and sustainable business you need to have a passion for your work and work with people who inspire you, who get you excited, who give you respect, and who will give you the energy to keep going and improve all the time!
Do you want to know what a niche market is and the difference between your target market and niche market – check out our related post What is your niche market?
What is your sweet spot? or how to identify your niche market
1. What are your values?
Why do you want to run a creative business?
What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to be in 20 years time?
What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
What do you want to change in the world?
What is really important to you?
These are really major questions for you to answer. Is it about quality, innovation, creativity, solutions, beauty, providing pleasure and joy, creating partnerships, rebellious, or sustainability for you? What are your specific core beliefs that drive you and your business? Many of these values have got more interpretations, so be as specific as you can.
This is really about: what makes you uniquely you and is the foundation of you and your business idea?
Identify five specific values that describe you as best as you can. If you can figure this out, and communicate that well, then you get something that is very difficult to replicate.
2. What are you passionate about?
What do you want to change or improve in the world? What is your ‘soap box’ topic? What are you obsessed about – and doesn’t feel like work at all? Be as specific as you can.
Often we are too close to ourselves to really see these, so you might like to contact 5 people from across your life to help you answer these questions for you!
3. What are your strengths?
What are your special talents? What do you want to be known for?
4. Who will pay for what you offer?
What do you know about your potential or current clients? Are they trade or consumers, or both? What kind of retailers or clients will buy from you?
Identify specific facts about them e.g. gender, location, industry, age. Where do they live, what do the read, what hobbies have they got?
And then go a bit deeper than these facts: what do they dream about, what are their aspirations, what are their wants and needs, what are their worries or challenges, what do they need help with, what keeps them awake at night?
It really can help to write a short story about your different client groups: who they are, what they do, why they buy from you.
Or have fun creating a collage with collected images of what they would look like, what they wear, what they read.
If you combine these 4 different areas, what is the (partial) overlap? This is called the sweet spot.
Maybe at this stage you can identify a couple of overlaps, just dot them down for now.
To get you into more detail … Can you make a list with the names of 20 potential clients for each of these sweet spots? If not, you might need to do some more research by digging deeper or by researching more potential clients.
Go out there and try these different sweet spots. Nothing beats actual feedback from potential clients! Have some fun with it, try out different ways of introducing yourself, of presenting yourself. Find out if there is a market who is willing to pay for what you do. Tweak it if necessary, just a slight different approach might do the trick!
So to really sum it up: niche marketing is a combination of you and your talents and what the market wants and needs.
Some case studies of how the sweet spot and niches can work:
My sister has got a disabled teenage daughter who is incontinent and uses a wheelchair full time. For a really long time my sister found it impossible to find funky, colourful clothes for her to wear. She is a creative person, so started making her own clothes, and many of her friends commented positively. It is very often the case that successful businesses are started by somebody who had first hand experience of a specific need that others would have too.
Fast forward 5 years later and she has got a thriving online fashion business called Pien & Polle for disabled kids, that she can run while working around the demands of a very busy family life!
She is very good in getting referrals and repeat business due to her niche. Her marketing mostly exist out of sending additional postcards with orders to hand out to friends, a monthly e-newsletter, and exhibiting at 2 disability trade fairs.
An anonymous illustrator I have worked with has designed lots of different products in different styles, working happily along without any strategic planning, but she knew she wasn’t selling as well as she knew she could.
After a trade show we realised that the products in itself were good, but that the collection and presentation was unclear to retailers. We simplified her collection together, ordering products around different themes and styles (giving each collection a working title e.g. fairy tales, 1950’s Copenhagen), identifying target groups (e.g. Bollywood Kitsch, Vintage High Street Gift Shop, Colourful Brighton) which made it easier to identify potential retailers.
We also cut out more than 60% of the collection, and added new products at different (higher!) price levels.
We managed to identify her nearest competitors, and it became fairly easy to find out to which retailers they were selling. Most competitors posted on their websites a listing of where they were selling their post cards!
A very clear picture of the market emerged.
She recently exhibited at Top Drawer (the giftware trade show) with her ‘new’ collections, and we invited around 100 researched retailers, and sales were up by 150%!
Have you got a very specific niche market? We would love to hear from you to feature you as a case study. Please contact us with further information by email.