your niche isn’t just picking an industry vertical

A $15 million SaaS company, let’s call them ACME Corp., came to us and said, “We need to grow, we need more leads!” ACME had grown to that point by being a partner of and getting referrals from them. These referrals closed at a high rate, quickly. Well duh, because they were referrals. ACME was growing, but wanted to grow faster, to double their rate with paid lead generation. Referrals and organic growth  weren’t enough. ACME assumed that if they just got twice as many leads, they could grow twice as fast.

● Trouble Clue #1: They’d been trying different online and offline marketing campaigns for three years, with results ranging from abysmal to crummy.

● Trouble Clue #2: They started an outbound prospecting program and totally failed. A total Zero. It took four months (well, on top of the prior three years), but the key learning finally was that they weren’t ready to grow faster.

This company hadn’t Nailed A Niche. The signs were all there before but they didn’t want to accept it until they tried outbound marketing and hit a wall. Any kind of paid or non-­organic lead generation (like marketing or prospecting) can be a forcing function that makes you confront the reality of whether you’ve nailed a niche or not. If it doesn’t work, you need to rethink your target customer… and possibly your solution.

ACME was in a noisy, commoditized market. All of ACME’s target prospects already had something “good enough.”  Their targets’ pains weren’t ones ACME could credibly solve. To the prospects, anything ACME could offer beyond what they already had was just a nice-­to­-have, and not worth the pain of switching systems. However excited the  ACME team was about their own stuff, prospects didn’t Get It. They didn’t need ACME’s solution.

nicheconfusionTarget + Pain + Solution

Your Niche isn’t just picking an industry vertical or Target, though being picky about whom you’re targeting is a big part. It also sits at the intersection of the Pain they have and your Solution: Now, if you’re in the same situation, do you blame the prospects for not Getting It – or do you admit you have work to do?

Nailing A Niche isn’t just a problem for startups and small businesses. You don’t solve it once. It becomes a recurring problem as you expand your lead generation  programs, geographies, teams and product portfolio.

Your CMO, division or individual salespeople may need to keep re-­nailing down “who are you targeting that needs (not wants) you, why they should buy, for the most money? And how do you make it about them, not all about you?” It’s hard to resist dumping on buyers about all the great ways you can help them, but if you keep doing that, you’re more likely to confuse than excite them.

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