I see it happen over and over to small business owners. They invest a significant amount of their marketing budget into a big initiative, like a billboard or a newspaper ad campaign. When I ask them if the ad worked, they say, “We’re not sure.” Maybe business bumped up a bit that quarter, or maybe it stayed level, but they lack the key metrics they need to tie an ad to a change in their business in any concrete way.
The idea of “finding your niche” is far from a new idea. Business owners learn early on to think about their competitive advantage, finding creative ways to set themselves apart from competitors so that they can capture a share of the market in a way that others cannot. In many ways, this idea has driven innovation over the last few centuries, and it’s inspired businesses to develop compelling solutions to evolving problems.
When it comes to marketing, however, many business owners leave the idea of staking claim to a unique niche behind. They develop their innovative product or service, and then they fight to get to potential customers using the same avenues and approaches as their competitors. This creates a marketing bottleneck: everyone is trying to get through the same door. In these cases, the established brands have the advantage. They have the budget, the expertise, and the reputation to succeed in these high-static scenarios.
In the marketing world, we often pay lip service to the idea of using a business to do good, but too often we fail to act on it. Corporate social responsibility–the official term for initiatives like these–can be a powerful way to not only make a difference but also to drive revenue, increase interest, and improve the morale of your team.
On April 12, I attended a Cal U Career Services event to talk about the value of networking and what it takes to build a successful career in today’s economy. While this talk was focused on students, the mindset I cover can apply to any business owner or professional.
Whenever I talk to clients about creating more content for their audience and fans, I usually hear a response about how they don’t have the time, the resources, or the technical know-how to make that happen. If you own a smartphone, you are already on your way to being your own media production company. Sure, you might not be shooting a Superbowl commercial from your phone (though some film studios have produced entire movies on smartphones alone), you can create relevant, engaging content that can boost retention and interest in what you do.