Brand Your Business for a Niche Market

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Original Post

Hi, fellow etsians!

I wrote this article awhile ago, for my small business blog, and I thought it might be helpful for some of you.

This article came about because a couple of wonderful crafty friends of mine have been struggling, and we sat down together to brainstorm ways to get their business back on track. this is by no means a "you must do things this way or die" method, it's just one way of reassessing your business in light of the recession.

if anyone else has other ideas, post them below. I'd love to hear them.

Steff
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How to brand your business for a niche market.

I’m a firm believer that the business practises that fail during an economic downturn are the practises that weren’t so hot to begin with. In a booming economy, bad business practises go unnoticed, but when things get tough, shareholders get tough, and the crackdown begins.

The key to succeeding in a small business is targeted niche marketing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read on for five steps to brand your business for a target market.

Step One: Know Your Target Market

Part of my job as a copywriter is to evaluate your customers. I need to know who your target customers are so I can write copy that speaks to them. If you don’t know who your target market is, we’re both in trouble.

Write a profile of a target customer? Are they female or male? A teenager, a 20-something or a retiree? Are they well-off or struggling? Do they work for themselves? What are they interested in? What are their hobbies? Do they have kids? Are they from a certian area? Do they own their own home? Do they need to relax more, organize their life or lose weight?

Do they identify with a specific social, cultural, racial or religious group? Are they a goth? Do they participate in competitive sport? Are they Chinese, German or Dutch?

Knowing your target market is the KEY to success,

Step Two: Research your Market’s Needs

With the economy slowing and more people losing jobs, your target market’s needs are changing. You need to meet those needs.

Is your target market trying to save money? Are they cutting back on non-essentials? Are they trying to stay healthy or help the environment? Are they looking for ONE perfect awesome present for their child this year? What effect does the economy have on your target customer?

Don’t just sit at home and ponder your market – get out amongst them. Go to the places they hang out and ASK them about their lives – what do they want and need? What are their hopes and dreams? The best market research is done by engaging directly with the market itself.

Have you brainstormed a few ideas? Good. Now we move on to step three.

Step Three: Assess Your Business Against your target market

Assessing your own business with a critical eye can be difficult, but you need to do it if you want to succeed. If a target customer showed up at your store or found your website online, what would they see? How would they feel? What items or services would they be drawn too? What items or services would they find useless?

For example, you run a gothic clothing store. Your target market is older goths with families/jobs/responsibilities. You’re selling a lot of business clothes with gothic twists – lace here, a little Victorian detail there. You also sell a line of clubbwear, but that doesn’t do very well, because it doesn’t really sit with your target market.

Step Four: Use downtime to refocus your business

Now is the perfect time to reassess your business practises. First, focus on your inventory. Are there any products (such as the clubbwear above) that don’t fit with your target market? Could you perhaps get rid of these products and replace them with more appropriate items? Use your target market research as a jumping-off point to brainstorm new product lines.

Maybe you could drop the clubbwear line and intead create a line of men's business ties with gothic designs, or some baby clothes?

Next, look at your branding and image. Does your shop graphics and colours mesh with your products? Do you have a uniform branding? Are you targeting your niche market? Now you have the opportunity to rethink, rebrand, refurbish.

Step Five: Market Smarter, Not Harder

You’ve got your target audience sussed. Now how do your market your newly refurbished business? You need to focus your advertising where your target market hangs out? Are they on the internet? Are they reading blogs? Are they on facebook? Are they at the local market, or the grocery store, or the antique shop? Are they in school? Do they work at home? Where do they eat out? Where do they go to relax and unwind? The answers to these questions are where you should focus your marketing efforts.

You can't spend all your time on social-networking sites and blogs. A blog can be a useful marketing tool, but only if your target audience would read your blog. twitter could be a useful marketing tool, but only if your target audience is on twitter and you're TALKING to them. Advertising on craftcult can be useful, but only if your target audience is on craftcult. :)

Five steps, and five different ways of thinking about your business during the recession. Let me know what you think!

Posted at 5:16pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

Responses

Great list, there's so much helpful info here!

Posted at 5:32pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

Thanks, MissMalaprop. I was really hoping it would be helpful :)

Posted at 5:35pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

Very very good reminder on the basics that I tend to forget about :)

Thanks!

Posted at 5:37pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

awesome info to consider, especially for those who aren't "sales savvy" but would like to be! ty for posting this!

Posted at 5:39pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

SuaVoce says

Thank you! I think it's so important to keep in mind the business aspect of selling on Etsy. We may be artists here but we are also business-owners!

Posted at 5:41pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

Excellent. Marking.

Posted at 5:42pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

Thanks...added this to my faves!

Posted at 5:44pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

NoisyTarli says

marking!

Posted at 5:44pm Dec 3, 2009 EST

Fyrecreek says

Marking, thanks for posting this!

Posted at 5:47pm Dec 3, 2009 EST