[Podcast] 5 Steps to Educating Customers on Your Niche Product
Your startup business provides a first-of-its-kind solution that most people aren't familiar with. So how can you find your target audience and market your unique product to them?
Let’s start by answering these five questions aimed at getting the marketing strategy for your unique idea off the ground:
- How can you identify the target audience for your unique product?
- How do you educate your target audience?
- What can you do to develop channel partners?
- How can you expand your team with talent who understands your product's value?
- How can you track key performance indicators to improve the sales and marketing of your unique product?
We’ll help you answer these questions, so you can walk away knowing how to connect with customers, find channel partners, and use education to draw engagement and grow sales!
1. How can you identify the target audience for your unique product?
Who's the right person for you to market to? You need to know your target audience, but sometimes the audience you think you should target, ends up being different from the one you’re actually selling to.
Start by identifying who your current customers are, through either records or your CRM, and note the common thread between them. Even if it’s only two or three people, that gives you something to start with (so track all of them), including their:
- Education level
- Job title
- Income level
- Buying motivation
- Pain points
You can use this information to create buyer personas, or fictional characters, to represent your current customer base.
From there you have a hard reference for who falls into your niche market, and come up with tactics to market your unique product specifically based on:
1. Whose problems you typically solve
2. Who’s willing to pay
The key here is to recognize that your product won’t be for everyone, narrow in on the specific audience who's willing to pay, and create customer education tactics catered for that demographic (which we’ll cover how to do next).
2. How do you educate your target audience?
Most likely your target audience is drawn to your unique product or service because they already have some awareness of the niche problem it solves.
Your goal is to educate people about the solution you offer, as opposed to only emphasizing the problem.
Even if the problem you solve is a dire one, exasperation and fear still shouldn’t be center stage in your niche marketing. People need to realize what’s wrong, without you overplaying it to a point that's' unrealistic. Instead, you should place emphasis on the value your product brings, by creating educational content that specifically teaches people about the unique solution you offer.
There are many forms educational content can take, including:
- Blogs answering common questions
- Graphics breaking down facts or stats
- In-person events/panels covering your industry
- Videos showcasing how your product works
- Webinars with customers explaining their before/after with your product
- Tutorials explaining how to use your product
- Social media posts sharing bite-sized points one at a time
- eBooks that helps solve problems your product also solves
- Newsletters covering industry updates
- Podcasts featuring guests within your industry
- PDFs explaining how channel partners can work with you
It’s best to pick one or a few and nail those channels. Build an audience, engagement, a reputation, then spread out.
You can achieve this by repurposing one kind of content for multiple formats. For example, audio for a podcast episode can be additionally transcribed for a blog post, quoted in a graphic, and announced in your newsletter.
This strategy alone can give you months worth of content!
How do you create content that is educational?
You want to present the information within your content in a way that is easy for your audience to understand and implement. They need to be able to walk away with a concrete idea of how the information relates to them, evidence that backs up your claims, in-depth tactics with examples, and an action step they can immediately implement afterwards.
One of the ways you can do that is by framing the information as a story with the customer at the center of it.
1. Define a main character (your customer) and what they’re trying to accomplish
2. Identify your customer’s problem, or what’s in their way next
3. Introduce your plan as the guide to help them get what they want (emphasizing what the positive end result will be be)
4. Give concrete steps to call the main character to action
5. Break down your tactics in-depth with concrete examples or stats
6. End on an action step the customer can immediately take next ("schedule a demo" or "check out this related link")
This Storybrand tactic has been found to work for sharing information because it keeps the focus on the customer's needs (which is the primary thing that will keep their attention).
3. What can you do to develop channel partners?
Channel partners, or businesses you build co-branding relationships with, can help your startup by distributing the content you create or connecting you with potential customers.
But how do you find and forge these partnerships?
Start by fostering relationships with the connections you already have and reaching out to them.
Your goal is to find partners who are willing to do something recurring with you, whether that's speaking engagements, email promotions, podcasts, or sharing your content with your respective audiences. This means it’s going to be easier to forge partnerships with businesses who share your own cause or are naturally drawn to the solution you offer (i.e. you share a common target audience who can benefit from your product).
Once you formally partner with these organizations, you can collaborate on content calendars together, where you share each others’ educational tools or contribute to them as a guest.
For example, you could have a week where you post on your partner’s blog, and then the next week they get a post published on your blog.
Just be sure to set those expectations up front. Many people are nice and will say they'd love to work together. Fewer will actually follow through, and you need to whittle down to the ones who will do that. Take time to layout your terms and dates for content collaboration in a document you both can refer to, so you both understand what’s expected from the partnership.
Partner relationships like these can help you keep a consistent flow for both content creation, distribution, and customer referrals.
4. How can you expand your team with talent who understands your product's value?
It’s hard to let someone else that isn’t you take over tasks within your startup. But recognizing your weak points in your own skills and hiring people around them can help your startup become stronger all around.
With that in mind, you want to purposely hire people who have different approaches and backgrounds than the one you have.
These new hires won’t sell, market, or educate customers the exact same way you do, but that’s the point. You have to recognize that the way you’ve been doing things isn’t the only way to accomplish your goals. Otherwise, how else will you be able to make sure your startup won’t fall apart when you aren't there?
Once you start searching for diverse hires, you can still keep things streamlined across your new team by specifically looking for people who have:
- A solid work ethic
- Goals you also share
- A mission similar to your startup’s
- An interest in the role and skills they’ll be learning
- A personality you'd want to spend time with anyway
These traits are fundamental for any good hire and should be your main priority. You can train someone with these traits to do anything, but you can’t train someone to have these traits.
Once you bring on your new hire, you need an onboarding process that accounts for:
1. Things the new hire needs to succeed on the first day
2. Regular touchpoints to establish an open line of communication
3. Space for feedback on how both the new hire and your onboarding could improve
4. Ample time for the new hire to shadow how you or a senior employee does things
5. An in-depth break down of what makes your product unique and who your target market is
Additionally your CRM can help you document how you interact with customers, so your employees have a record of how you do things.
5. How can you track key performance indicators to improve the sales and marketing of your unique product?
You need to track your progress and accumulate data so you can make important decisions going forward.
Even if you’re not 100% sure how you would track success (since your product is so niche or new), you can create specific KPIs that cater to your unique goals.
A KPI, or key performance indicator, is a measurement of an activity you deem important to the well being of your small business.
For example, your ecommerce platform’s KPI could be the amount of people who make purchases from your website. And you could use the numbers you collect for that KPI to determine what you should restructure on your website based on what you think people want to see.
You really only need one or three KPIs to track your business’s progress to start with (there’s no need to overwhelm yourself with more).
The point is that you chose one that is:
1. Objectively important to the unique problem you’re trying to fix
2. Directly related to the health of your business
3. Can be measured in a concrete way
4. A North star that can influence you and your team to continue improving
Just remember to use your KPIs to make larger decisions and not to just track averages. It’s one thing to be data-aware and another to be data-driven.
Actively share your startup’s unique cause with your community.
Your goal is to market your one-of-a-kind product to the right audience, but you can't successfully do that if you’re bashful about sharing your story.
The key is to consistently get your idea out into the world, and prevent yourself from becoming stagnant or freezing with doubt.
Fear can stop any new entrepreneur in their tracks, especially if you’re just starting out and you’re afraid another large business will steal your ideas, or you're scared people will doubt your legitimacy. Let pride and excitement be your driver, instead of those fears.
Take time to educate yourself on how you can protect your great idea by sharing it from others and asking for their advice.
Reach out to experts in your field, and even not in your field, to get their feedback. You can get nuggets of advice from literally anyone, plus practice pitching your idea at the same time.
Build up a team of mentors and advisors you can reach out to for advice and actively share what you’re doing and what you’re looking to learn to improve.