Niching and positioning is something I see a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with. They can't seem to nail down a strong value proposition and instead want to do it all.
They read blogs on positioning, watch video courses, and seem to obsess over this...
Yet it's uncommon that I see many people finalize on a niche and positioning statement that really works.
But when it does... It's fire.
In fact, I often say that your value proposition is a multiplier on any marketing you do.
(Your value proposition) X (Any marketing tactic) = (Results)
We nailed a value proposition with Lead Cookie and this has enabled us to grow into one of the top players in our space.
In this article, I am going to share with you the mindset and how I think through niching your business.
A simple question to determine your niche
Can you become #1 in your niche?
If the answer is no, then you probably need to keep refining.
Now, this is not to say that you can't have a value proposition that will work without the ability to be #1. But it simply won't have the same effect as a value proposition that becomes top of the market.
To provide an example of this...
How I landed on Lead Cookie's value proposition
When I set out to build Lead Cookie, here is the vision I wrote down and what we still hold true today.
Our Vision: #1 Done-for-you Linkedin Lead Generation Service. We do not compete on info-products. We compete on being the best service company in this space! We do this better than ANYONE!
At the start of Lead Cookie, I researched the market and looked at the other players in our space and here is what I saw.
One big competitor:
LinkedSelling was the biggest player in this space. With almost 70 employees, it was clear that they were the industry leader... BUT it was also clear that they made most of their money by selling info products and online courses about Linkedin, and their services arm seemed to come second to their info products.
I had spoken to multiple people who had worked with LinkedSelling as customers or employees in the past, and it was clear to me that there was an opportunity here for me to build a better and more affordable service.
Lots of small players:
As I searched around the market, I found several other done-for-you Linkedin lead gen service providers. But to be honest, most of them looked to be pretty amateur entrepreneurs.
I studied the backgrounds of who I would be going up against and realized that I could certainly do this better.
Lastly, I found lots of people in the Linkedin coaching and video course world who did profile optimizations, social selling courses, and much more. Some offered done-for-you services, but once again it seemed take a back seat to their info products and training programs.
Taking a stand and staying focused
As I looked around the market, it became clear to me that no one was really owning the done-for-you space and doing it well.
Those who were, I knew I could pass up.
And the rest were distracted selling info products.
So I wrote our vision statement: To become the #1 Done-for-you Linkedin Lead Generation Service
And I had to write that we do not compete on info products explicitly into that statement or I knew I would get distracted.
At one point, I even went all the way to the point of creating a landing page for an info product launch... but I stopped myself. While I knew it would be fast cash, I needed to stay focused on what we set out to do.
Sure, I could launch an info product or coaching program around Linkedin. It would probably generate some great cash and profits.
But there are two problems with that:
It would be a distraction from improving our done-for-you offer.
It probably wouldn't be as good as what LinkedSelling is putting out.
Even if it wasn't a distraction, the 2nd problem is a huge point to consider. If I did build something here, it simply wouldn't be #1. LinkedSelling has spent years refining their training courses and anything I launched would never come close to what they have built unless I went all in on this.
Other distractions that I almost caved into at multiple points:
Offering cold email services to our customer
Offering SDRs to our customers to convert leads into calls
Sales virtual assistants
There are so many opportunities for things you could do. The hard part of nailing a niche is that you have to stay focused on the one thing you do better than anyone else.
Rising to #1 in our niche
Around one year ago, people started to come to me and say, "I've done my research and it's clear you guys are the leaders."
Those were my first signals that we were on the rise to #1 in our niche.
And recently, I got a call from a massive banking institution who wants to provide credit card reward points if their customers buy Lead Cookie's services.
This is a massive banking institution and on the call they said, "We did our research and it is clear that you guys are #1 in this Linkedin space. Our goals have been to partner with the leaders in a variety of niche service areas for rewards programs."
I kind of got teary-eyed on that call.
It was the clear validation that we had hit #1.
Tips on how to nail your niche and mistakes to avoid
Tip 1 - Can you become #1 in your niche?
This is a good place to start and you can consistently come back to this question as you refine your positioning.
If your value proposition is any variation of the following... then dig deeper.
We help enterprise and startup companies build custom applications
We help small businesses attract more clients through marketing services
We help businesses achieve growth through consulting services
I seriously see variations of those value propositions listed above come through multiple times every day at Lead Cookie and we turn all of those customers away.
It's far too broad, and you could never become #1 in such a massively wide market.
Tip 2 - Choose a niche approach
A vertical niche is when you focus on an industry. (Ex. Real Estate, Manufacturing, Financial Services, etc.)
A horizontal niche is when you focus on a narrow offering to a wide range of industries. (Ex. Linkedin Prospecting, Cold Email, Autoresponders)
A platform niche is when you focus on either a platform or technology. (Ex. React, SAP, Salesforce, etc.)
Some value propositions can straddle multiple approaches, but these are the three typical ways that companies niche down.
At Lead Cookie, we took a combination of a horizontal & platform niche approach.
horizontal = outbound prospecting
platform = Linkedin only
Tip 3 - Your niche must matter to your customers
This point is crucial and the hardest part to nail. Ultimately, there is no perfect formula for a strong value proposition.
Instead, your value proposition needs to be tested and must matter to your customers.
For example, I've seen people create value propositions such as the following:
We are an AngularJS development shop that specializes in the real estate industry.
The problem with that value proposition is that you are mixing two things that don't really matter to the same customer. If your decision makers are technical, then they will care about your AngularJS value proposition.
But if you then try to mix that with the real estate industry, it doesn't line up because a real estate business buyer may not even comprehend what AngularJS is.
This is just one example, but I see people try to force these value props all of the time in an attempt to "niche further" and what comes out is this nonsensical value proposition that doesn't actually matter to your customer.
Ultimately, you must make sure what you are creating actually matters to your customers and what resonates with them.
Tip 4 - Timing matters
Imagine if I had created Lead Cookie's value proposition 10 years ago... Linkedin was hardly on most peoples' radar then and many people were not active in that space.
Imagine that someone tries to replicate our value proposition today. They are already 2 years behind the ball and it is unlikely they will ever catch us.
The point I drive home here is that timing is important.
Nailing a value proposition is not some perfect thing that will last forever. But instead, it is taking a stance based on the current trends and tides of marketing.
It involves researching who else is out there today and figuring out how you fit in.
Tip 5 - I help X accomplish Y through Z
While not all value propositions will fit this framework, a simple framework to articulate your value proposition is:
I help X accomplish Y through Z.
X = target market
Y = Benefit
Z = How you do it
This formula can sometimes be overused or can feel forced. If you find a better formula or stronger way to articulate your value proposition, then go for it. This is just a simple starting point.
Tip 6 - Test your value proposition with cold outreach
Quite a while back, I wrote an article called How to test and validate your value proposition fast. You can check out the article for more details but the basic gist of it is this:
If you can sell to someone who is 100% cold, then you have a strong value proposition.
It doesn't matter if you do that via cold emailing, Linkedin or cold calling. The key is to get your value proposition in front of a completely cold buyer and see if they bite.
If you can do that, then your value proposition is working well and cutting through the noise.
The bottom line
Your value proposition is a multiplier for all of the marketing efforts you do. So it is worth taking the time to get this right.
Follow the tips I outlined in this article and begin refining yours today.
It will take time, but when you nail this, it pays off big time.