By Dixie Laite, Dametown.com | Lizzo sings that her DNA test tells her she’s “100% that bitch” and while I absolutely support all my sisters being that, I advise all my content creating sistren to commit to the niche thing as well.
So, you are building a brand – maybe it’s podcast, a blog, a business. You nod your head when anyone says that all brands need clarity, a specific audience, a niche. But be honest — do you really have a niche? Can you articulate your niche in a sentence or two? Can you clearly identify your targeted demographic, psychographic, and those brands (if any) competing in your niche?
In my role as a consultant, I work with small business owners, content creators and anyone interested in building and growing their brand. The most common problem I run into is the fact that surprisingly few of these very smart, very capable people are sure about their niche. They aren’t able to clearly identify to whom they’re trying to appeal or to whom they’re aiming to serve. They just aren’t sure: what is their core message, their true benefit, their unique selling proposition (USP)?
Can you answer these questions about your brand? Can you answer them quickly and coherently, without stuttering or smoke coming out your ears? It’s really important that you become clear about what you’re creating and, especially, for whom.
For my podcasters out there, I get it. You want to talk about lots of things on your podcast. You bristle at having to limit your topics or content in any way. I get that. I’m not telling you to narrowly focus your content. I’m just suggesting that you focus your content. All kinds of subjects can be talked about on the same podcast, but they need to share some sort of underlying core theme or unifying element that ties them all together.
Learn From The Experts
Let me use the examples of some successful podcasts to illustrate what I mean. Tim Ferris’s podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show (Apple Podcasts|Spotify), is one of the most successful podcasts of all time, consisting primarily of a series of long interviews with a wide variety of people from the worlds of business, the arts, the sciences, technology, military, sports, pharmaceuticals…you name it. Despite the diversity of subjects and people, the common thread throughout the podcast is Tim’s mining and deconstructing of the habits and perspectives of these high-level performers and success stories (well, he is also the common thread).
Tim is talented at selecting high achievers and great minds to interview. Despite the variety of guests, listeners know they can reliably hear interesting stories, tips, and strategies, and that’s why they keep tuning in. The core message is that this podcast will expose you to all kinds of great people and great ideas. The diversity isn’t jarring; it’s what we expect. Now, Tim could decide to interview his girlfriend or his plumber, but they’d better have ideas, advice and habits worth sharing.
Adam Roche has two podcasts, Attaboy Clarence and The Secret History of Hollywood. His focus is on old movies and old Hollywood. He tells stories, shares vintage radio shows, plays old songs. As a master chef, parent and curious man, Adam could easily talk about food, his family, politics, even contemporary movies. But he admirably restrains himself. Adam’s successful podcasts are focused on his topics and on the subject matter his classic movie fans have tuned in to hear. He knows his audience and he gives them what his brand has taught them to expect.
I recently interviewed Kevin Flynn from the Law & Order-themed …These Are Their Stories podcast (Apple Podcasts|Spotify). Though he and his wife/co-host were true crime writers with a casual fanship of the Law & Order franchise, their research led them to recognize there was a niche audience for a Law & Order-themed podcast. Therefore, they identified an opportunity to serve the legions of viewers who love hearing humorous discussions about the franchise they know so well.
Ask The Right Questions
Podcasters would be wise to follow these examples, and answer these questions:
- Are you targeting a specific audience?
- Does your podcast reliably deliver the type of content that your targeted audience expects?
- Is your podcast giving listeners an opportunity to hear things that aren’t being said elsewhere?
This last question is especially important to consider. Peter Thiel has one question he asks all the startup founders he interviews: “What do you believe to be true that most people do not?” This question forces you to reexamine the assumptions and conventions within your niche. It encourages you to creatively offer audiences what they’re not hearing anywhere else, to offer customers what they’re not getting anywhere else.
Dare to Be Specific
Targeting a specific audience is key. The importance of finding — and serving — your tribe cannot be overestimated. Identifying your niche is key. But niches can be crowded, so it may be important to carve out a sub-niche within your niche. Your sub-niche audience can be discovered. Your product becomes valuable if you go against the grain of conventional wisdom, go places no one else has gone before, or explore the niche in a way no one else is exploring it.
This doesn’t mean being a contrarian just for the sake of it; it means offering value by exploring an area that’s been untapped OR by exploring a tapped topic in a way that’s new and fresh. Define your niche or sub-niche by what you’re saying and/or by what you’re NOT saying, or maybe in the WAY you’re saying it. Your research and expertise will pave the way.
Where Is Your Listener?
Speaking of research…You’ve identified your niche or sub-niche. You’ve explored the competition – what they’re offering and what they’re not. You’ve identified your target audience – the demographic and the psychographic. That’s your who. Now, find out where they are. Once you know to whom you’re trying to appeal, you should have enough information to identify the platforms where you can find those people hanging out. Reach out to them there.
Build Meaningful, Authentic Connections
Speaking of reaching out to them…Once you find your ideal audience, connect with them. Bring your authenticity and unique personality to your podcast (or blog, or business, etc.) You’ve undoubtedly heard about “relationship marketing”. It’s the idea that in a world cluttered with ads, messages and content, people will gravitate to media and brands with which they feel they have a personal relationship.
Relationship marketing is a term often used to talk about why brands should respond to emails, answer comments on social media, and generally be as responsive to customers and audiences as possible. But it also suggests that brands should be open to expressing and exposing their personality through their content. In other words, relationship marketing is as much about authenticity as it is about accessibility.
For example, relationship marketing might mean that if you cuss IRL, then you should feel free to drop F-bombs in your content. Though you might piss some people off, you’ll build a stronger connection with the members of your tribe who stay. It’s better for you to have 500 people who love you and 500 people who hate you than 1,000 people who are indifferent. Those 500 passionate “true fans” will share your message and market for you.
“If you haven’t pissed somebody off by noon, then you probably aren’t making much money.”— Dan Kennedy
Polish Your Niche
Work harder, which doesn’t mean “work longer”. If a blogger is a bad writer, working lots of hours will just mean filling up a website with lots of crap nobody wants. Working harder means working to serve your niche, to be better than any competition in your niche. If most of the videos in your niche are kinda shoddy or cheesy, why not create some videos with high production value? If no one in your vegan nutrition niche is backing up claims with facts, why not include links to studies (or at least quote them) and lend yourself added credibility? Distinguish yourself in your niche with added value, quality, more more, and/or a distinctive, authentic voice.
Give Your Podcast a Check-up
If your podcast isn’t growing or succeeding the way you’d hoped, ask yourself some questions:
- Have I identified a niche that is not being served, is being underserved, or is one in which I can match or exceed the competition?
- Can I clearly articulate what and who is in my niche?
- Do I know where to find my audience and how to connect with them?
- What can I do to put more personality into my podcast?
- How can I reach out more effectively to both current and potential listeners?
If you have any questions about identifying your niche or sub-niche, you can reach me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear how you’re defining and refining the audience you want to serve. Remember, once you’ve clearly defined your niche, you’re more likely to attract advertisers who want to reach that niche — and that’s where Ossa Collective can really help.
For further reading, check out:
The Ultimate Reading List to Start Building Your Brand