This article is a five-minute read.
Your business is settled. You have attracted a sufficient number of customers and have a working cash flow. You've even noticed that some customers actually value what you do, and you seem to make a good margin from the work you do for them. But, you've also noticed that some customers are a real drain on resources, eroding your profit and taking up far too much time.
In this insight, focusing on B2B organisations, we'll look at drilling down into what you sell, who you sell it to and, most importantly, why they buy it. We'll also look at developing niche sales pitches for marketing so that you attract more of the good customers and deter the rest.
No Is A Powerful World
The allure of making some money often outweighs whether it's right for your brand, and many small businesses don't say no to new business, however toxic.
While many of us talk about how important our brand is, what we do, how we do it, and who we do it for are critical facets in creating the story of who we are and who we want to attract in the future. It's imperative to understand and focus on these key points as we aim to grow our customer base.
Who you say no to is just as important as who you say yes to.
During the introduction, I talked about good customers and painful ones. If you have a business already, you'll know what I mean. It's a great starting point in defining what you want more of and what you want less of and should help you focus on attracting specific types of customers by creating compelling sales pitches.
While some businesses work across horizontal markets, the chances are you have some niche opportunities ripe for taking advantage of in order to attract customers that are much more aligned to your business aspirations.
Horizontal Market - A business that operates across a horizontal market has a broad set of customers in diverse industries. The product or service they sell meets the needs of a wide range of customers. In B2B, you could look at accountants, which serve pretty much all businesses.
Vertical Market - A vertical market tends to relate to a specific sector. Specialist businesses in a supply chain will fit into this model, but many businesses work within vertical markets.
By focusing, you could end up with a target market (or a number of markets) that satisfy the key objectives of your business, allowing you to become more attractive to relevant organisations:
- It’s work you like doing in an area where you can offer value and compete.
- The margins you make meet the criteria that allow your business to thrive.
- The customers you work with are people you want to do business with and align with your brand.
Search engines and social media channels offer a cheap way to reach new potential customers. They also allow our competitors to do the same. A marketing agency in Basingstoke (insert your location/profession accordingly) has to compete online with a startup, single-person business that operates from home. The service offering may be quite different, but the sales pitch crosses over or aligns when presented to someone who does not know either of your businesses.
So, you must compete harder - against more people, on very noisy platforms. And while it makes complete sense to develop recognition through brand differentiation, many companies still work harder trying to sell what they do rather than who they are - the result: Confusion of choice for your audience.
The Google Search Problem
This issue also applies to people (your potential customers) searching, of course. It has become harder and harder to find relevance, especially when Google is intent on showing us as much advertising as they can (which in itself drives narrow search phrases) along with its own properties that offer more chances for them to show even more adverts. (And they have become very good at scraping content for their own benefit.)
As for you, the company trying to be found, well, ultimately, they want you to pay to advertise, and the more they earn per click, the better. It’s why they make us compete… against each other… upwards. In truth, there is only one winner.
I’ve always liked vertical market offerings because they give you the opportunity to use different language in your content (I guess this harks back to my SEO focus in the 2000s). They also allow you to add context to your offering, which is much more compelling for potential customers.
If we accept that we work in a competitive market and that our offering isn’t really that distinguishable from competitors - because our brand isn’t that well known itself - we are left with the fact that we are simply one company of many. But, by adding in vertical market messaging, we become specialists - a company that does something (like the others) but has specialist sector knowledge that adds extra value. We start to stand out to a specific target market.
This allows us to create one or more sales offerings that match a potential customer’s language regarding the type of query they may have.
Niche Sales Pitches
There is no one way people will find you, and serendipity is a word I use a lot when I talk about this kind of approach. Here’s an example from Rewind Marketing, when we focused on working for double glazing companies.
On the website, we had some pages about how we create websites for double glazing firms. They contained relevant language with an overriding sales message: Get More Sales Leads For Your Double Glazing Firm.
One day, the phone rang. I missed the call but caught the number. I googled it and saw that it belonged to a glazing firm in Edgware, so I called back and started chatting to the owner. After I explained who I was, his opening line was, “Do you rent websites to windows firms?”. The conversation developed to the crux of his specific problem - getting more sales enquiries. They are still a customer eight years later.
This demonstrates that what your customers buy - if you have targeted them correctly - is not necessarily what you think you sell. Most people within companies are purchasing a solution to a problem they have. If you can delve into what those problems are, you can create more succinct sales pitches to your selected niches, using relevant and specific wording that will:
- Work harder in search engines for more niche search queries.
- Be more engaging because of the specific nature of the content.
The fact that we build websites is the mechanic of the offering. But, we need to let them know we can solve their problem first using language that they understand.
Practical Web Structure
Some customers worry when we mention niches; they feel they may lose work from other types of companies and don’t want to become pigeon-holed.
But, any niche sales offerings we create should be designed to pull people directly into the relevant web page sales offering, bypassing your generic website content; that can stay as it is. These specific sales pages should be seen as additions rather than replacements.
You are simply looking to create overt marketing propositions that pitch what you offer to select groups of people - with context. You empathise with the problems they have and prove that you have a solution.
These sectors can be part of your main web structure, such as a section called sectors, or can be separate. As long as the bespoke web pages get crawled and indexed in a search engine, that is the main thing. Yes, you can argue about the [SEO] weight of pages within your web structure; the core thing to focus on is getting the relevant content in place for people to find.
Example Niche Pages
Vertical Sectors is an obvious one. Why sell websites when you can sell sales leads for double glazing firms? Why sell general commercial legal services when you could be creating an offering designed for manufacturing firms or sports complexes, covering contextualised solutions for why they need your law firm?
Geography is an area that many companies still go for, stretching their offering across various locations. I’m not a big advocate of this as it can be disingenuous. That said, I know from experience it still works. The more context you add, the better. Just be sure that when someone finds your location-based page, they fully understand that you may not be where they think you are.
Breaking down your core services into niches is another area that can create additional niche opportunities, although I’d still suggest extra context. For example, we build websites at Rewind Marketing. But, we also create e-commerce solutions. We have even delivered a couple of e-commerce solutions for engineering firms of all things. The smaller the pond, the bigger your fish can be.
- LEDTECK create bespoke lighting solutions. Through an introduction, they have developed a niche product offering for LED lighting for refrigeration units for supermarkets.
- Fleet & Commercial Insurance Brokers can't compete with the big boys for generic traffic. But we can offer specific commercial insurance products for markets and problems.
- Mode 4 has business opportunities across specific places in the South of England. These location pages, for example Reading page get specific with detail. We have done the same with Ripton Windows. Both websites have the location link hidden away in the footer of the main website structure.
As the number of web pages on the Internet continues to grow and the opportunities to be found through search become more complicated, niche sales pages on your website are a great way to take advantage of people who know what their problem is and what they need to sort it.
By aligning parts of your service offering to specific needs or by packaging your offering for specific vertical markets, you can create better opportunities to attract the type of customers you want by simply addressing people's particular needs. Plus, the great thing about the web is that you are not limited. As long as you can see the value, you can create as many niche sales pages on your website as you like.
Just remember to stay customer-focused, with your solutions to their problems delivered in a way that retains integrity to your brand.