Are you a business owner with a product or service for everyone? Then, don’t expect to sell to anyone. I’m sorry to break it to you, but in our connected, consumer culture world, if you market to everyone, you’ll sell to no one.
I know this from personal experience. Like many, my husband and I paid off our debt and launched a blog to share what we learned with everyone. Nearly everyone has debt, so everyone could learn from our experience, right? In truth, yes, most everyone could benefit from our experiences. The problem is, how many personal finance bloggers are there?
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Standing Out in a Crowd
About 1,200 alone attend a personal finance bloggers conference with us each year. A Google search for “personal finance blogs” yields about 142 million results. So, how is anyone supposed to stand out from the crowd?
The answer is: by specializing.
Why We Went Gay
When we attended our first of those money bloggers conferences, a woman asked us, “Why are you trying to be Dave Ramsey? He’s cornered that market. You’re gay and no one’s talking to your community. You should.” Even though we had discussed this before, we apparently needed to hear it from an outsider.
It Started Coming Together
She was right because it feels like all our successes and opportunities came when we committed to being gay personal finance bloggers. We found our readers. Media and other blogs started to pay us to write for them. Companies hired us for brand partnerships. In every case, our angle is LGBTQ personal finance. Had we stuck with our original model, none of these opportunities would’ve happened.
Consider Starting Your Own Business
Now, we’re trying to encourage more in our queer community to become part- and full-time LGBTQ entrepreneurs. Whether you’re LGBTQ or not, having your own business can increase your financial security and life satisfaction.
Focus on an Audience
People always tell us that their product or service is for everyone. They believe in what they offer and wholeheartedly want to help people. Like we did, originally, they feel like they’re not being inclusive by choosing an audience or niche.
The problem is, as was with us, most markets are saturated. To stand out, you must be different. Fortunately, though, this quest to uniquely target an audience often means targeting a market in which you fall or identify. When we started talking more personally about our personal finances, we connected with an LGBTQ audience seeking help from others with similar stories and experiences.
Create an Avatar
Once you’ve chosen a market, go further. Create an “avatar,” or a description and biography, of your most ideal customer. Decide where they’re from and where they live now. Know their appearance from head to toe. Understand their likes and dislikes. Ask yourself if they’re married, dating or single. Ask what they spend on and where they like to vacation. Get a real picture of the person who needs your product or service. Most importantly, be clear on how your product or service addresses their most urgent need.
For so many entrepreneurs, their avatar is a version of themselves. Our avatar is us 10 to 15 years ago. Your avatar could be your past, present or future self. They could be you as a business person or as a parent. It’s fine if you’re still dealing with the struggle. There’s a market who wants to go through the change with you.
Look Around You
Another source of inspiration for your avatar could be the people in your life. The people in your life often have similar needs, pain points or desires as you. Even if they’re different, you have a personal connection with them and that comes across in your business.
We live in the age of the celebrity CEO. You might surprise yourself by how many CEOs and founders of companies you can name, in fact. This suggests that the most valuable asset of your business is you. The more you can be to an audience or your clients, the more people will connect with you and your product or service. This is the Oprah effect.
On one hand, this is perfect because no one is better at being you than you. On the other, most of us carry limiting beliefs about ourselves or shy away from the spotlight. Therefore, it can be hard to share your true self.
The truth is, though, that we also live in a homogenized world. Music, movies, retail and so on seem to produce and sell much of the same products. Consumers will buy from these brands, but they won’t build relationships with them. A percentage of consumers will identify with you and want to build a relationship with you, and they’re your raving fans.
If your natural inclination is to curse, then curse. If it’s sarcasm, be sarcastic. If you like to tell stories, please, please, please tell stories. There’s an audience for you, but they’ll only gravitate to you when they know you.
This is the why and the how of niching down. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, new or old, I recommend it for your own success.
It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, we know that we’re trying to reach a population that is most likely less than 2 percent of the U.S. That said, that is still well over six million. If we can tap a percentage of that group, then our business will thrive even more than it is today because we’re serving a real audience rather than the world.
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