What do bacon vodka, wilted flowers, and hand underpants (yes, there’s such a thing) have in common?
These are examples of niche enterprises that cater to very specific audiences. As marketers, we usually prefer popular brands or companies (such as those in the food, digital, or retail sector) whenever we handle advertising campaigns. But promoting niche businesses can actually be more fun and rewarding than well-known ventures.
Just like these companies, you need to think outside the box in order to maximize the efforts of your niche marketing project. Don’t just stick to regular social media tactics or blogging. When it comes to niche products and services, you will need customized marketing strategies.
1. User-Generated Content
Whether your client sells surfboards or custom crystal jewelry, they could definitely take advantage of user-generated content to showcase merchandise without looking promotional. Great examples include Instagram photos or Vine videos.
User-generated content is one of the best marketing tricks to use because it works two ways: It’s like free advertising for a company, and it’s a chance for the business to create a connection with people who already love their products. And what’s better than new customers? Repeat customers.
BaubleBar, an online jewelry store, is a master at this technique as they feature Instagram pictures of people wearing their merchandise. All you need to do is use their special hashtag #BaubleBar when you post your selfie, and you could be featured on the company’s awesome account.
2. Choose Advertising Platforms Wisely
As the saying goes, you can’t serve two masters at once. If you want long-term success, you need pinpoint accuracy for attracting your target audiences.
Promoting businesses on social media such as Facebook and Twitter is huge these days. However, they may not be the best platforms to use for niche products because they are often saturated with too much noise from competitors and Internet trolls. So what do you do? You limit your visibility to highly relevant platforms.
This could mean dismissing more popular methods such as Facebook ads. Remember: You don’t need to be everywhere at once! Not only is this process expensive, but it’s also a lot of effort for little return. Be specific about your goals first, and then tailor ideas to meet those objectives.
A niche that’s rather difficult to promote is construction. But luxury home builder Toll Brothers were able to rise to the challenge. They understand that their customers usually prefer to visit real estate sites directly or receive email newsletters instead of simply hanging out in social media. With help from retargeting techniques and Google Display Network, they were able to increase their number of qualified leads and CTR.
Aside from a great product, what fuels customer satisfaction these days is experience. Give people the whole package, from placing an order to product delivery, and you’ve got them hooked for life. However, running a small niche business is usually taxing (especially for enterprises with a small staff) in itself. Marketing is not always a priority, and businesses want to keep costs low to accommodate more pressing expenses.
Here’s where the power of experience comes into play again: Why not team up with experts to spread awareness and showcase your business’ unique selling point?
Ride-sharing app Sidecar did this in 2014 when they partnered with famous bloggers to create a one-of-a-kind experience for their customers. Three famous bloggers were chosen to decorate three sidecars. Riders could then snap a selfie in the beautifully-themed sidecars to win a month’s worth of free rides. The campaign was a success and helped promote Sidecar as a leader in delivering unique shared riding experiences.
4. Don’t Forget Offline Marketing
Although we now enjoy the fruits of the web, nothing beats good old-fashioned offline marketing. After all, not every target segment can be reached using mobile apps. This is particularly useful for niche businesses—it allows people to touch, hold, and sample your clients’ products. Plus, offline marketing tactics such as using business cards, pamphlets, or coupons give customers a physical connection with the brand.
Offline methods don’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of ideas to get started, such as attending local events as a guest speaker or donating discount cards to a charity of choice. Sierra Nevada Brewery takes on another strategy by opening their doors to curious customers for brewery tours and craft beer tasting. This has gained them numerous featured mentions in local magazines (both in print and online) and even on Tripadvisor.
5. Leverage Sustainable Mediums
Niche businesses, especially those who want to be here for the long haul, need sustainable marketing. A great example of a sustainable medium is video. Its rise to fame is more than a fluke; in fact, Cisco predicts that by 2017, 69% of online traffic will be due to video binge-watching.
Handerpants, the product that originally started as a gag gift on Amazon, remains a force to be reckoned with thanks to thousands of videos on YouTube. It’s not just Handerpants themselves that are uploading the content— most of it comes from their customers. The original video is about six years old, yet people are still enamored with this curious accessory.
Just because your client is selling something that seems offbeat or strange doesn’t mean it’s going to be a marketing flop. Today’s strategies are no longer reliant on rules. Make ‘em or break ‘em! You can be as creative as you want (with permission from your client, of course) as you think of clever, new ways to promote a niche business. Whether you choose a video campaign or a taste-testing event, always keep your client’s goals in mind.
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