Your Focus on Your Niche is Killing Your Niche Marketing – 4 Rules

It’s a dirty secret of the marketing industry that you can package up the same stuff everyone else does (like WordPress sites, copy writing, and social media), pair it with industry-specific terminology and examples, call yourselves ‘specialists’ and triple your rates and referrals. Whether or not you’re any good, you become the best in a niche, or at least the best-known. You’ve essentially claimed a niche. There are guys that target just lawn care services, and make a good living doing it. Rest assured, the lawn care industry is doing nothing cutting edge in the area of digital marketing – OK maybe somewhere. But one reason is that the first question a lawn care business owner will usually ask is show me what you’ve done for lawn care companies. It’s actually the wrong question, and you’d be better off knowing what they’ve done in at least 4 or 5 different industries.

Best Tip: The right question is how will you help me grow my clientele through digital strategy? Here are 4 rules to avoid the strategic mistakes that can seriously impair your digital marketing:

Stay Out of the Digital Toilet

Digital strategy is born by crossing boundaries. If you’ve got your ear to only one particular industry’s set of examples, or only have experience with one industry, you end up with stale marketing that represents what everyone else in that industry is already doing. Your competitive edge goes in the toilet. Literally:

Imagine a plumbing industry where, instead of looking for the best ideas regardless of niche or profession – and specifically great ideas that competitors aren’t utilizing – and applying those to marketing a plumber, all the plumbers are just looking at each other (other plumbers) for the example of what to do. Where everyone is everyone else’s teacher, you’ve got a class of dunces. That’s why there are so many tedious, cloned web sites, boring blogs, copycat newsletters and ebooks, and lackluster, ineffective social media marketing attempts in niche markets. It’s because someone decided to only learn what was already there, and stick their own label on it. And frankly, that poisonous mistake is often fed by ‘specialists’ who claim they’re utilizing digital strategy that’s optimized for your field.

Beware the Secret Sauce

The special sauce of a food chain is ketchup and leftover pickle juice, once they’re done fishing pickles for a week out of the unrefrigerated industrial sized can. Be extra cautious of what’s marketed as special sauce for your niche – it’s usually just the same old mayonnaise, repackaged with some industry verbiage by self-avowed “specialists”. And they might be specialists, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get more effective marketing that way. You might well find it far less effective, because claiming a niche is a shortcut. The best companies often don’t have to.

Best Tip: We’re not saying niche specialists are bad guys, or that it’s wrong to specialize. We’re just saying specialization is often about marketing services to you, not marketing your own services more effectively.

Avoid the “Go Local” Wrong Turn

What’s true of an industry niche is true of locales. Do you want to focus only on what digital marketing they’ve figured out how to do in Pittsburg, or do you want to apply insights from wherever effective ideas are being innovated and succeeding? It’s crazy the number of people that call up their local IT firm, because they “know tech”, and order a web site, a dash of search optimization and social media, like it’s a take out restaurant. Those things aren’t tech, they’re marketing, which is a right brained, creative, and content-driven activity. Even if you start with a marketing firm, be sure they’re not stuck on Main Street because they’re on Main Street. In other words, too much emphasis on ‘local’ can be marketing myopia.

Best Advice: Going local, just because it’s local, can seriously impair your digital strategy. Go awesome. Go spectacular. And if that leaves you going local, OK then. If not, it’s a wrong turn. Consider the broader view more useful.

Don’t Let Them Make You a Pod

Above all, don’t copycat the people that seem to be doing what you want to do – it’s a rookie move and shows you think they’re better than you are. Clone is actually a style, now – we’ve all been on web sites we’re sure we’ve seen before in some form or another. The “I have no better idea than to slap a different color on my competitor’s stuff” vibe comes right through. It’s like endlessly repeating the punch line of a joke that wasn’t that good the first time. You’ve seen the standard corporate site with the stock photo of the flawless business person in a tie. Makes you want to shove a spoon in your eye socket, because it’s such a cliche. And you darned sure don’t want to clone copy either. If it’s around 30% similar to a competitor, you’re probably taking a ‘duplicate content penalty’ from Google, who is not in the business of serving up a bunch of “more or less the same” search results – why would it be? If your content strategy is borrowing copy, you’re in for wasted effort and a boomerang of bad results. Always be cooking up something new. That’s what digital strategy really is.

Best Tip: The technology has reached a point that any design or development firm can build a web site now. Take an open-source engine (or ‘platform’) – it’s silly now to reinvent the wheel, add an invisible grid on top for design, on which you arrange your content in the form of text, video, and graphics. In other words, a web site is a content presentation for a content marketing purpose. Use it like that and, more importantly, buy it like that or build it like that. Put the emphasis on the content marketing plan, and make sure the right choices are made at build time so it can be fully utilized as a marketing platform.

Reach out to MadPipe to craft a digital marketing plan for your business and so we can help you through effective marketing in your industry and locale, with intelligent insights from across multiple industries and locales.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership in marketing, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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