We've talked a lot about Serving Your Market lately, both here at ClickNewz and also on the various webinars & podcasts I'm involved with. It's a concept I've subscribed to since the beginning of my 12 years in business and one that has played a very significant role in my success.
It's also a topic that Ed Dale covered at the Over the Edge conference (aka OTE2). He spoke in detail about dominating your niche by becoming a market leader. This was during Monday's session, and Ed's ideas and implementation of this concept really resonated with me.
In this post we'll look at the real reasons why you should serve your market, and specific ways that you can do that in your own business model...
What does it mean to Serve Your Market?
Serving your market means that you are actively involved on the micro-level and have an obvious vested interest in that market. It is about going the extra mile to find solutions, and coming up with innovative ways to deliver those solutions.
A Market Leader stands above and apart from other solution providers in their niche simply by listening more, providing higher quality, leveraging various elements in the market, simplifying processes, etc. But the bottom line is to become the "go to guy" in your industry, and to establish trust and rapport with your target market.
One of the keys to becoming a Market Leader is to examine your competition and determine what they are doing right. How can you do it better? And even more powerful is to determine what they are doing wrong (or not doing at all), and then to capitalize on that space between them and the market.
Obvious benefits to serving your marketing include: increased exposure, higher response & conversation rates, and gaining unsolicited word-of-mouth referrals across the social media landscape. That last point being the absolute best type of exposure you can possibly get. You simply couldnt buy better marketing.
Becoming a Market Leader is the result. Not the goal.
Becoming a Market Leader is not about having the largest mailing list, the highest priced product or the biggest profit margin. Many people will approach their market from that angle head-on, not realizing that all of those things are a result of market leadership.
If you properly serve your market then your list will naturally grow, and your products and services will ultimately be in higher demand.
There is a difference between trying to "dominate your niche" purely for gain, and making every effort to truly serve your market. That difference is obvious to your clients and customers, and it dictates whether your success will be long-term in that market - or a flash in the pan.
The Marketer's Mindset
We all want to make money online. That's why we're here. That's why I am writing this piece, and the very reason that you are reading it.
That said, when we are creating solutions or writing our marketing plan we have to set our own wants and needs aside and focus on our target market.
You're familiar with the acronym WIIFM I'm sure, which stands for "What's in it for me?" This is the exact question that your website visitors are asking themselves, and one you need to be able to properly answer for them.
Instead of looking at a niche and asking yourself how much money you could possibly earn there, look at a niche and determine ways you could serve that market.
Obviously you will create a profitable business model by doing that. I'm not suggesting that you become "a non-profit organization with a greater cause" but simply that you approach the market as a solution provider - and not a cash-vacuum.
Simply providing real solutions with a vested interested in the results is a good start. Keep in mind that most of your competitors are lazy and they are only in it for the profit. It doesnt take much to stand above and apart in most niches...
Serving Your Market
To give you some ideas on ways you can serve your market, and ultimately dominate your niche by doing so, I'll pull from my notes on Ed Dale's presentation on Market Leadership at OTE2 and also include some of my own suggestions:
- Become actively involved in your niche. On your own sites, and also across the web. Reply to emails. Respond to blog comments. Create social media profiles and actively participate at those properties. Join niche discussion forums and contribute value there.
- Create a customer follow-up strategy. Go beyond "making the sale" and create a follow-up strategy that encourages your buyers to consume the material and to experience results. Your vested interest and continued support is what will turn those buyers into a loyal customer base.
- Build a community, not a list. Dont just build a list you can constantly market to, build a community within your target market. Being a Market Leader means being a market listener - and then taking action.
- Follow Market Trends. Dont be stale with your offer. Be proactive, and move forward consistently. LEAD.
- Dont Respond, Initiate! While you should always respond to issues and conversations within your niche, you want to be the person to start those conversations whenever possible. Market Leaders initiate relevant discussions.
- Be Proactive, not Passive. Reading a blog post is passive. Writing a blog post is active. Listening to podcasts is passive. Creating podcasts is active. Get actively involved in your niche by publishing content in a variety of formats across various web properties.
- Communicate Frequently. Dont just email your list when you have something to sell them. Provide quality content on a regular basis to stay fresh in their minds. Serving your market consistently will build rapport and trust with them.
- Act on feedback. Show appreciation for the feedback you receive by taking action on it. Acknowledge complaints, and make necessary changes. While you dont want to become a slave to your market, you should open yourself up to serving that market when they make it a point to let you know how you can best do that.
How many of your competitors follow even half of the points on this list? How many of these points are you using in your own business model? Take these ideas and dominate your niche, simply by better serving your market.
Consider this: If you keep your market encouraged, inspired and achieving results... they will continue to purchase products. If they become discouraged or dont achieve results, they will not continue to buy. It is in your best interest to keep them actively involved by serving your market.