“Even if you’re entering a flooded marketplace, you always have a chance to make your brand and company stand out. People used to think water was all the same; now stores carry half-a-dozen brands or more. . . . Marketers struggle with differentiation because they give up too soon,” Daye says. “They think that this can’t be differentiated, it can’t be unique.”
Well, the script just got flipped on me, because it just clicked for ME! My own personal Oprah Ah Ha! moment. Is that trademarked? Well anyway . . .
When I started my online business in 2007, I began as a virtual assistant (VA). There were two things I knew 1) Doing admin work was not my passion (although I was good at it) AND 2) I needed a niche. I never let either of them stop me. I figured let me just start walking and see where the paths leads – I knew organically I would find a niche, and I did.
Not sure how I ended up here, but I became intrigued with Social Media. I still remember sitting at Panera with a fellow VA asking her what Twitter was and how you could use LinkedIn. I mean, it’s just an online resume site, isn’t it? And what is a tweet? I was bewildered and perplexed . . . OK. Clueless.
I saw other VA’s offering social media, somehow found VA Classroom and jumped into studying Social Media with my usual intensity (I can be a little intense). I took the course and got my little certificate. But because I wanted to be able to have an expert’s approach to serving my clients, I studied online all day every day for about five months before I would take a customer. Was deathly afraid a client would ask me a question and I wouldn’t have the answer. I even had someone calling me every month asking when I would be ready, and kept pushing her off until one day she demanded that I take her on as a client – thank you Nicole.
Finding a Niche Within Your Niche
The marketplace is flooded with Social Media consultants, managers, marketers – you name it. I found myself offering what everyone else was – nothing special. Years later I was trained in the art of Oral Storytelling by a wonderful organization, Spellbinders – changed my life. I re-discovered my gift of Storytelling and started performing locally.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I noticed a pattern. When clients came to me for services they had no strategy, and no clue what to write on Facebook, share on Twitter. I wasn’t even offering editorial calendars. I would just pick up where they left off. I was doing a big disservice to them and it didn’t say much for me as a Social Media professional. There was a gap and in filling it I realized what differentiates me and it hit me today!!!
1) I have a gift for Storytelling
2) I market in my sleep
3) I strategize like Napoleon
4) I’m intuitive – I just am (I can sense it before you say it – ask my close friends) and,
5) Talk about social? My friends say I never meet a stranger.
Mix that all together and I’m a Social Media Marketing Strategist and Storyteller. I’ve got my own special sauce and now I’m creating products and services and offering in a way that no one else does. Do you know how great that feels?
My advice, or what worked for me is:
1) Don’t let it stop you. Start your business anyway. Don’t let your lack of finding a niche stop you from starting your business. Start it!! There’s an old proverb that says “Your gift will make room for you”. Somewhere in you, it might be dormant, you have a gift . . . a knack for doing something. It will come out in the work you do OR you won’t find true joy until it’s incorporated into what you do.
2) Pay attention to what you don’t enjoy doing (even if you’re good at it) and make a note to phase that out eventually (depending on your financial situation). I’m great at admin work (I was Executive Secretary for many years), but don’t enjoy doing it for other people. I have a creative side, so just updating someone’s Twitter status every week, became drudgery. I no longer manage social networking accounts. Phased that out and am the happiest kid on the block.
3) Notice patterns. Do you get frustrated or does it bother you when clients approach you to work with them and something is always missing? Are you always creating a form for them? Walking them through or telling them something they weren’t aware of? Or they call you for one thing and you ended up working on or talking about something else? Your niche is in there somewhere. Identify that thing or talk it out with someone.
4) You’ve heard the saying “Don’t Be A Copycat“. I’ve done it. Looked through websites of other social media people to see what they offer and how they do it. Guess what? It’s like walking around in someone else’s shoes when they’re not home. It doesn’t feel right and it ain’t right. Be original and put your own spin on what you do.
5) Stop fighting. Sometimes the answer is right there and we won’t embrace it. My friend Barbara was telling me for the longest time that Storytelling was my “money maker”. It comes easy to me. I can perform in front of 100 or 1,000 people and I don’t get nervous. People wanted to hire me for events, art festivals and even to perform at an auction. Someone from the mayor’s office gave me a card and wanted me to perform at one of their functions. Do you know it took me almost two years to incorporate storytelling into my business? Two years!! (thus the re-branding now) I know, where was my intuition then?
6) Surrender to your passion. What’s that thing that when you do it, you’re in the zone? You’re on a high when you hang up the phone, finish the project or put the finishing touch on. You could do for hours and not get paid (could, not should or would – we got bills to pay). What do you light up when you talk about? Your whole body language changes, you get animated, your eyes light up and you don’t realize how loud you’re talking? That’s it, baby! That’s it. Put that into what you’re doing. Incorporate it somehow. Fabienne Frederickson says it this way . . . Find a way to weave your passion into what you do and the customers will come.
7) Course Correct – Make a U-turn. Three point turn. Stop traffic. Cause a bottleneck. Re-brand if you have to. Change up everything if you need to. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Make the necessary changes to do what you have to do. I’m in the middle of that right now and it’s hard work, but it feels so right and so good right now. I’m recording videos now that chronicle my “course correction” or re-branding steps that I will release when I reach the six figure income mark. Oh yes, it’s on and poppin’!
8) Don’t give up too soon! Be Persistent in Finding Your Niche.
What about you? Is your “marketplace flooded” even within your niche? Are you still looking for your niche or have you found it yet? Share in the comments below
and then join me over at my new digs I’m setting up on Facebook.