Whether you’re a social media savvy solopreneur or bricks and mortar small business owner, you may have seen and heard a lot recently around the concept of ‘niching down’.
Not only is there a hot debate about how to pronounce it correctly (for me, it rhymes with Quiché, for others it rhymes with rich) there’s also lots of discussion around whether it’s the right thing to do for small businesses and solopreneurs.
The reason? Done right, knowing it's the right time to niche down can open up huge business benefits. Done wrong, it can close down potential business opportunities.
So first off, what do we mean by niching down?
What is niching down?
A niche is a specialized segment of a market for a particular product or service. So when we talk about niching down, we’re referring to the specific market you’re in, not your product.
A niche product caters to a high specialized, low volume, consumer demand, which often leads to premium pricing. A good example of a niche product would be vinyl records, which attract music purists who value the authentic sound quality and packaging.
In contrast, in a niche market, your product or service provides a very specific solution to a very specific problem. For instance, if you’re a personal trainer, then your target audience might be people who want to get fit. Niching down means refining that audience further.
So, maybe you specialize in helping women get fit.
Or maybe, you go deeper and your core audience is actually ‘busy mums who stay healthy’.
Or, further still, working mums looking to build in exercise around work and childcare.
And so on.
You might be thinking that’s getting too niche, but the reason that niching down is no longer a limiting factor is that social media and the Internet now enable businesses to reach a smaller, more niche audience, on a global scale.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at the reasons why some small businesses and solopreneurs decide to go niche.
Why do small businesses and solopreneurs go niche?
So niching down has got your attention: it might be something you’re thinking about doing, or possibly something you’ve already done (maybe without even knowing it). You might be wondering why so many business owners make the choice to go more niche. Here are four common reasons for niching down:
When you go niche, you go deep. By specializing in a more specific niche, you create an opportunity to become a thought leader and go-to expert in your field.
With a clearer idea of who your specific target audience is, such as working mums finding time to exercise around work and childcare, it’s much easier to create relevant content.
By focusing on one, or a smaller set of problems, you can focus your attention on creating a more specific solution, or a set of solutions, that really resonate with your audience.
The most obvious reason to go niche is that when you narrow down to a particular target group, you automatically reduce the number of competitors.
How can niching down benefit a small business?
Plain and simple, businesses wouldn’t niche down if there weren’t tangible benefits to their bottom line. And as the saying goes, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one.
With a niche, it’s much easier to reach your target group because you know them so much better. And when you produce a piece of content, you know that it’s much more likely to resonate with them and, if you’ve got it right, gain much faster traction within your community.
By being so specialist, you immediately differentiate yourself from more broadly-focussed competitors, which means you can start to position yourself as an expert in your niche. By becoming uniquely specialized, you also make it more difficult for other competitors to copy what you do or enter the market.
Taking that position also creates a sense of trust, and people within your community will start to view you as an authority. You’ll start to become the go-to business. With a niche, you have a much clearer understanding of how to engage with your audience.
For a good analogy, let’s take rocket science. If you wanted to know the answer to a technical question about rocket science, would you ask a science teacher, who has very good but general scientific knowledge, or an actual rocket scientist who specializes in that particular field?
When your aim is too broad, it’s likely that your presence is going to be less keenly felt. In a broad network, it’s difficult to find quality leads. However, tapping into a smaller market enables you to make much more meaningful connections with clients and customers. And the chances are that they have similar pain points and needs which your product or service can help support.
When you truly understand the needs of your target audience, you can build a stronger relationship with them, and can create much more tailored messaging. This gives you a much clearer focus for things like your brand identity and website.
What are the pitfalls of niching down for small businesses?
As you may have already seen from social media, opinion is very much divided on niching down. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, this can create uncertainty, making them feel unsure whether the time is right to niche down or not.
As we’ll see, there are different approaches you can take to niching down, but one of the common concerns is that niching down potentially excludes your product or service from certain clients, losing you potential business.
Let’s take our personal trainer example again. If they help working mums find time to exercise around work and childcare, does that mean they can’t work with clients from other demographics? Not necessarily, but the way your business is set up for a particular group will not have the strongest appeal outside their niche.
The other potential pitfall is that if your brand identity and messaging doesn’t resonate strongly enough with your target audience, you may find yourself backed into a corner and unable to grow your business. In that scenario, how do you broaden your niche in order to attract different target groups?
To ensure your brand resonates strongly enough with your target audience, you need to ensure you’ve picked the right audience. How? Well, this might depend on your chosen approach to niching down.
How can small businesses approach niching down?
Every business is different, and so there’s no one right or wrong approach to niching down. It’s up to the owner to decide on the approach that suits their business needs, and how far to take it. And that very much depends on their business model and their industry.
There are two approaches to consider:
Too Niche: If you already know your market, and you’re confident about the niche that your product or service fits into, by specializing from the get-go, you’re going to create deeper connections faster with that smaller group. And when you’re well established amongst that very specific community, over time you can broaden out your offering to take in related markets. By the same token, you might also discover more opportunities vertically which strengthen your business without having to step outside your niche.
Looking to niche down? Here is a nice video from Pat Flynn, Author, Podcaster & Serial Entrepreneur
Not Too Niche: It’s okay not to know your niche from the start. So if you begin broad, it can help you to identify a niche further down the line. It may not be something you had in mind when you started out, but it’s something you discover over time. If you’re a data-driven organization, analysis might reveal that you’re connecting with a particular demographic, or group of customers, or that there’s a common trend for why customers are reaching out to you. That means you can start broad and narrow down.
Reaching out to your niche
Whatever niche you’re in, it’s important that your brand identity, brand messaging, and website resonate strongly with your target audience.
At KHULA Design Studio™, we get to know you, your business, your customers — and your niche — so we can deliver the right design solutions for your brand, whether you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner.
See what KHULA could do for you. Take a look at our work.
We get it. You’re a brand strategist, and you love diving into the details to deliver the big picture for your client. You know their mission, vision, and value proposition; you’ve got a clear picture of the competitive landscape; and you understand their audience. Not only that, but you’ve done their messaging, and maybe even the copy. Now your strategy is going to help your client (re)position themselves in the market.
Next comes the tricky part: handing over your brand strategy to a team of designers, developers and creatives to deliver on your promise. There are a lot of roles to fill. Besides graphic design, there’s UX/UI design, web development, and copywriting. Whether you’re a freelance brand strategist or part of a small branding team, you can only wear so many hats.
Sooner or later, your marketing engine is going to need more creatives to keep it running — research and strategy quickly turn into project management, or referrals to other creatives. In effect, you’re giving clients half the solution, and then putting them in someone else’s hands to execute your strategy.
If those creatives don’t deliver, it reflects badly on your strategy — even if it’s great. That’s when contracting to a design studio makes a lot of sense. Here’s why.
1. A single point of contact
If you’re part of a network of other freelancers, it might be possible to assemble a full design team to execute your brand strategy. Chances are, they’re working remotely across different timezones and platforms. They also have their own schedules and other clients to consider.
Onboarding, unifying, and collaborating with multiple freelancers on a single timeline for project completion is no easy feat. Right now marketing and IT talent are in high demand, so if another project comes along that takes priority over yours, you stand to lose expertise, capacity, and time. Say it’s your UX/UI designer — any delay from their end impacts the rest of the website build.
By partnering with a design studio, everything is handled for you. It’s like having your own in-house design team doing all the heavy lifting. They’re a silent partner executing your strategy. And the best part? It all happens through a single point of contact, so you’re not having to manage multiple creatives to get the job done.
2. Totally devoted to you
As a freelance brand strategist, there’s always the option to work with one of the big design agencies. From graphic designers to SEO specialists, they’ll certainly have the in-house expertise needed to execute your strategy. The problem is that they’ll also be serving multiple other clients, and you may not get to meet your creative team in person.
With all that time invested in getting to know your clients, it seems counterintuitive to contract-out the creative execution to people with no relationship to them or you. Partnering with a smaller design studio means you can actually deal directly with the team responsible for delivering the brand identity, website, and copy.
Typically, a design studio will work with a single client and have another in the pipeline, so they’re totally devoted to one project at a time. Collaborating with a design studio means you get a closer connection, a more thorough understanding, and a better alignment with your client’s brand strategy.
3. Expertise built around you
With a design studio, not only do you get a closer relationship with your creative team, you also get a ready-made pool of technical talent to support the execution of your brand strategy. This saves you time sourcing, hiring, and onboarding the right freelance talent to get the job done.
A good design studio will put together a team to suit your client’s specific needs. That includes delivering on the technical side of the website such as website performance, SEO fundamentals, and connecting Google Marketing Platform and its sub-products such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. In fact, they’ll help you build and roll out the brand way beyond strategy and messaging.
4. Project management you can trust
When you bring onboard multiple freelancers to a project, it’s time-consuming and costly. With multiple moving parts, it’s easy for something to go wrong or slip through the cracks. This can end up negatively impacting the client’s experience of your services, and therefore your own brand’s reputation.
With a design studio, not only do you have a single point of contact, but any issues with contractors, like the availability of certain expertise, is out of your hands. It’s down to your design partner to take care of the day-to-day and smooth-running of the design execution.
Put simply, all the heavy-lifting is done for you, so you can sit back and let someone else drive the project forward on your behalf.
5. More time to focus on new business
There’s no question that project managing the execution of your brand strategy takes you away from what you love.
Putting your brand design in safe hands means you can free-up time to focus on other activities that add-value to your business, whether that’s reaching out to new clients, or starting with your next strategy project.
Either way, hiring a design studio gives a brand strategist the perfect opportunity to offer clients a complete end-to-end service from market research right through to the launch of their new brand identity and Webflow website.
“KHULA has been the missing link I’ve needed to deliver beautiful brands and websites that fit the brand strategy and copy I develop for clients. Jamie has solid communication skills. He answers questions quickly and in detail and is a genuinely positive person. I always leave our calls 1) impressed by the work he delivers; 2) in a good mood. For businesses looking to strengthen their brand and website, look no further!" — Reagan, Brand Strategist
Be the hero to your clients
Partnering with a design studio gives brand strategists the creative and technical talent they need to deliver more for clients. Not only do they get to oversee the execution of their brand strategy, they also have the opportunity to add value by not sending clients to a third party to create their brand identity and website.
By contracting KHULA to operate in the background, brand strategists get to play a bigger part in clients’ lives and create more meaningful impact on their business. They also get to take extra credit — and earn a little extra — by delivering the final brand identity and website without building it themselves.
When you work with a design studio which has helped hundreds of small businesses refresh their brand image, you get an identity design and website with marketing assets that are all cohesive and create a unified brand experience for your clients.
Wondering what that might look like? Take a look at this case study that showcases a cohesive brand image at every touchpoint, from the logo and the website right through to social media posts and marketing campaigns.
How it works with KHULA
At KHULA Design Studio™, our brand strategist partnerships typically work like this:
We formulate the visual side of the brand based on the strategy and research you conducted with the client. That includes mood boarding, creating a solid logo concept, and helping you develop a strong brand identity.
We take your web copy, refining it where needed to create the UX/UI web design before building the site in a no-code, all-in-one platform, Webflow.
We set up the technical side of the website, conduct a comprehensive go-live checklist, including SEO fundamentals, ensuring everything’s ready to launch.
"I worked with Jamie as a consultant to help me grow my own design and development studio. I was looking for a mentor/coach, but hadn't found anyone that I "clicked with" and that I felt could help me take my business to the next level.From the moment Jamie and I got on a call, I knew I had found the perfect match. He's energetic, insightful, and, most of all-- He just gets it.The level of strategy he brings to the table is unmatched, and I'd recommend KHULA Studio to anyone who's looking to grow their business and delight their customers." — Josh, HMPSN Studio
For freelance brand strategists, KHULA Design Studio™ has a proven process and framework, plus a streamlined way of working. See what we offer.
Interested in finding out how you can partner with us? Book a complimentary call here.
Copywriting might not come naturally for you, but hey that’s okay. After reading the article below, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a worthy wordsmith — one that can pen everything from social media captions to best-in-show blogs that lure customers in like a saucy siren.
Let’s highlight some stats to start with.
- Around 7 million blog posts are published per day.
Yup — there’s lots of content out there already. Lots. But rather than add to the noise, the trick is to try and cut through it — to stand out among competitors and speak directly to your target customers.
You need to grab their attention – but where do you start?
Here are some best practice tips provided Dave Barton, founder of copywriting agency, tbc/wtf. He’s worked with some on the biggest B2B tech brands out there — such as Microsoft and Oracle — as well as some up and coming startups.
Despite what many may think, copywriting isn’t just about words. It’s about conveying intentions and emotions. At KHULA Design Studio™ we always say it’s about establishing a relationship with your reader — setting an authentic tone for the nature of your interactions.
Or, in other words, it’s talking to them about something that matters to them — in a way that they’ll relate to and act upon.
Know Your Audience
It’s vital to know who you’re writing for. The more you understand about them, the easier it is to address them in the right way. That doesn’t mean you need to know the age of their cat or their inside leg measurement. It just means appreciating who you’re addressing, and what will resonate with them.
Selling toothbrushes to 45 year olds? Talk about the importance of dental hygiene.
Selling toothbrushes to 6 year old kids? Talk about crocodiles.
Decide The Impact You Want To Have
Copywriting is commercially-focused. It needs to influence people – whether that means asking them to ‘sign up’, ‘buy now’ or ‘give me two minutes of your time’.
It goes without saying that you want your prospect’s attention – but what are you actually trying to do? Persuade? Inspire? Activate? Explain something?
The intention drives the impact. Writing’s a bit like acting in that respect - there’s a meaning behind every single line that we need to convey: and it’s not necessarily the same meaning as the word that’s on the page!
Appreciate The Context Of Your Interaction
Are you attracting new customers? Coaching existing ones? Driving traffic to a landing page? Online? Offline? Via a banner ad, social media message, or piece of direct mail?
Content may be king, but context is certainly queen. Knowing where, how, and when the message will be delivered affects the copy you’re creating too.
Know The Rules (And Then Break Them)
Depending on the context, there are ‘technical rules’ around copywriting. For example: focus on keeping a blog title under 70 characters so it doesn't get cut off in search engine results. For web development, this is important to help with SEO best practices.
But just as important, is playing with them. Sometimes this means communicating with clarity — particularly important in B2B when products and services can appear complex.
However, other times this means speaking to your audience about something they expect in a way they don’t expect, or talking about something they don't expect in a way they expect.
Don’t be scared to give your words some flourish: a hint of enchantment and a big dose of personality — as long as you understand what personality you’re conveying and know that it’s the kind of voice your audience will not only want to hear, but will actually listen to.
Always Address Your Audience
The one golden rule — to always remember — is to make sure you’re speaking directly to your audience. Be open, honest, and human with them. Seek to establish a kind of ‘alarming intimacy’ with them — whether you’re selling software or sandwiches.
Talk about what matters to them — their pain points, the solutions they’re looking for. And do it in an authentic, relatable way. That’s what’ll incite them to action.
It’s both arrogant and unrealistic to assume that your product or service will appeal to everyone, everywhere. So decide who you want to target/who’s most likely to engage with your message and go from there.
And, if you don’t get the results you want, try something else. Keep testing. Keep experimenting. Find what works for you.
As a design studio, we are constantly testing, iterating and seeing what works and doesn’t work for our audience. Over the time, we are gradually becoming more and more aligned with what our audience wants and needs. In return, it helps improve our online presence’s performance and improves our SEO score. We just need to keep iterating, and keep marching. Being agile is the key!
“Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions it rarely moves anyone.” – Fairfax M. Cone
Some guidelines to abide by when writing captions:
Know your audience
Identity your brand voice
Place the most important words in the beginning
Make it engaging.
Set the right expectations. A blog title needs to be more descriptive than the title of a magazine article. ...
Keep it short and sweet.
Include a keyword but don't go crazy.
Learn from others.
Ask Questions To Encourage Engagement.
Use Emojis To Show Your Personality.
Tag a friend or two
Include a call to action
Here are a few Power Words for writing emotional headlines:
Here are some blog title examples that work and can you help you get into the notion of writing:
How to _____ that drives ______
How to get rid of ______
Ultimate guide to ______
Creative way to ______
Top 10 things to ______
Supercharge your ______
What no one tells you about _____
Most effective tactics to ______
Tips for a busy ________
Insane _____ that will give you _____
Questions you should ask before _______
Smart strategies to ______
How I made _____ in ______
Most popular ways to _____
All in all, good writing — or at least good copywriting — shouldn’t draw too much attention to itself. It shouldn’t be ‘showy’ in a vacuous way. It has a specific job to do.
As was said in Ancient Greece – when Cicero spoke, the people said, "How well he speaks" but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, "Let us march.”
Google My Business is not the same thing as your Google Business Profile. Instead, think of it as an additional layer of control over your Google Business Profile — one that allows you to optimize its visibility and effectiveness for driving traffic to your business and/or your business’s website.
Your Google Business Profile is simply your business listing on Google. Setting up this profile (correctly) means your business appears on Google Maps and in local search results. Based on your business name, category, and address, a Business Profile is essentially the same as creating a pin in Google Maps.
Once verified by Google, your Business Profile will start to appear in local searches and provide customers with the opportunity to leave reviews and interact with your business. Google might even add additional, relevant content pulled in from other online sources. Clearly, as the business-owner, you want to have full control over your Business Profile.
So that’s where Google My Business comes in. This free tool allows you to optimize the content that appears on your Business Profile through search and maps. By setting it up, you not only have the ability to manage your profile, you’ll gain access to powerful functionality that can increase your online visibility.
Why do solopreneurs and small businesses need Google My Business?
According to research from Google, 60% of smartphone users contact businesses directly from the search results. And when you consider that (as of December 2021), Google accounted for 86% of the search market — that’s a huge amount of potential traffic heading your way.
Google My Business lets you take control of your Business Profile, so when customers search for you, you have a say in what they see and read about your business — from relevant images to customer reviews. Should your business hours change, move location, or temporarily close; all of that information can be updated and readily available at the fingertips of anyone searching you out.
The most obvious benefit of Google My Business for solopreneurs and small businesses is that it helps you get discovered. Your business listing helps customers find you on foot or online because you provide details like your address, opening times, website, and phone number. And if you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, your business’s pin will also appear in ‘nearby business’ searches on Google Maps.
Another advantage of Google My Business is social proof in the form of ratings and reviews. Now, a good business has nothing to fear, but you may have understandable concerns about customers leaving negative and potentially harmful reviews. In fact, evidence suggests that customers find a mixture of reviews more trustworthy. Plus, you have the facility to respond, and openly demonstrate that you’re prepared to go the extra-mile for your customers. You can also request removal if a review doesn’t meet Google’s guidelines.
As well as being an invaluable tool for building trust through social proof, Google My Business has the added benefit of enabling you to interact with customers by responding to reviews, answering questions, and direct messaging. This opens up a whole new channel for customer engagement with your brand and business.
Once you’re up and running (more on that later) with Google My Business, you’ll very quickly start to accumulate data on your local search performance and audience. In a world of ‘big data’, any forward-thinking solopreneur or small business looking for growth would do well to take a data-driven approach. And while the path to actually doing that might be unclear for a lot of companies, Google My Business lowers the barrier to entry.
Another amazing thing about Google My Business are the powerful and simple-to-use analytical tools included — for free. You don’t need to be a computer scientist to uncover some useful insights, including:
Searches people made to find you.
Unique users who viewed your profile.
The number of customers requesting directions.
Call button and website links clicks made.
Bookings made (through a third-party provider).
The number of unique conversations in your messaging.
This data can also help you formulate a more effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. If you’re less technically inclined, SEO is simply the process of making web pages more visible to search engines (and customers).
On a fundamental level, search engines need certain information to be able to effectively crawl (discover), index (imagine a library) and rank web pages. By optimizing your Google My Business content, you can increase your visibility in particular searches, based around specific keywords linked to your business category and geographic location (which is why the ‘searches people made to find you’ data is so handy).
As we’ve already explored, every website requires SEO fundamentals to ensure pages get picked up and correctly categorized by search engines. But SEO really comes into its own when you’re competing on a local level.
How can you use Google My Business to boost your SEO?
When you’re up against large, global competitors on the search engine results page (SERP) it can be tricky to keep your content on the first page of results (and most people don’t look beyond this). However, gaining a competitive advantage through well-optimized Google My Business content at a local level is very straightforward.
Start with your business description. You’re only allowed 750 characters — so make them count! In your description, include keywords associated with your business, including geographic information. Keep it natural-sounding. Try to do the same thing in any other written content you post, such as responses to reviews.
For solopreneurs, another good tip is to include your company name alongside your own name when you input the name of your business. This means that whether people hear and remember your business name or you, they’re sure to find it more easily.
Take this example from KHULA Design Studio™ client, Kaelan Hanslo. A Google search for Kalean or his business, The Wellness Hub, Randburg, brings up the same Business Profile in the top-right panel. Try it!
As with website SEO, you need to keep your written content natural-sounding, trustworthy, and on target. At the same time, you need to keep your data updated and as accurate as possible.
Make sure any changes to your contact details, location, opening hours and so on are kept current. Making regular posts, including business photos, will also help signal an active business and improve your visibility.
Google My Business allows you to add photos to ensure you’re making the right impression. Alongside your cover photo and logo, you’ll also want to include different photos to highlight key aspects of your business. They’re also a great way to differentiate your business from your competitors.
Another tip is to rename photos before uploading them, ideally with some of your keywords. This should help to increase their visibility, and are another potential route for searchers to arrive at your Business Profile or website. Google’s research shows that businesses that add photos to their profiles receive 35% more click-throughs to their websites.
How do you make effective use of Google My Business?
For a solopreneur or a small business, that top-right panel on a Google search results page is probably one of the most essential pieces of your online presence. And it’s free. So, how can you optimize it to your advantage?
Here are ten top tips for an effective Google My Business Profile:
Complete every section of your Business Profile in full.
Ensure your description includes keywords for your business category and location.
Choose the correct primary category and relevant secondary categories.
Keep your profile information correct and regularly updated.
Regularly publish Google posts (weekly is a good option).
Set up messaging.
Manage and respond to customer reviews (especially negative ones).
Ensure you keep business hours up to date.
Regularly post business photos (but be sure to rename them with keywords).
How do you create a Google My Business account?
So now you know all the benefits of this amazingly powerful and free advertising tool, how do you get started? It would be a cliché to say it’s as easy as 1,2,3, — but it really is straightforward.
Before you get started, you’ll need a Google Account associated with your business. If you don’t already have one, you can one set one up from Google Accounts. Once that’s done, make sure you’re signed in.
Next, add or claim your Business Profile on Google. You can do this through Google Maps or by heading to Google Business Profile Manager. From there, you’ll need to follow the onscreen prompts to add your business to Google, including choosing a method to verify your business.
Finally, once you’ve verified and personalized your Business Profile by adding all the correct details, hours, and photos, you’re ready to start managing your interactions with customers.
Ready to give Google My Business a go?
It’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain from setting up Google My Business — so what are you waiting for?
And if you’re not a tech-savvy solopreneur, not yet running a small business online, or don’t yet have a website, well, KHULA Design Studio™ can help with all of that!
Take Registered Massage Therapist, Tanner Chichak, for example. He runs a local, in-person business serving Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver, and needed to increase his online visibility.
After we helped to optimize his Squarespace landing page with SEO fundamentals, and set him up on Google My Business, he now has a higher search ranking, increased traffic, and most importantly — more bookings.
We offer a range of services for small businesses and solopreneurs, from brand strategy right through to web design and SEO optimization. And we can help with Google My Business too.