Ingredients to a niche, customer-focused position
Odds are there are other businesses doing what you do. So show your individualism! Position yourself against competitors and in your market. Clearly explain to customers why you're different and why they should give a damn.
Seems simple, but being clear and articulate in a succinct way is totally underestimated. Ensure your customer understands what you do and why they should care. And news flash, you live and breathe this everyday so of course you get it. Pull in a few third parties to get a fresh perspective on whether your messaging actually makes sense.
We rattle on a lot about authenticity but it is critical. Branding is holding up a mirror to the business. People can tell pretty quickly if things don't align. Keep it real! Each layer of your brand needs to add up without a disconnect. Speak plainly and honestly to your audience and it'll resonate with them. Take us here at Ply. We are pretty conversational in our writing because this reflects who we are in real life. No corporate suits and top buttons here.
Challenge for you
Ask your customers more questions to discover potential niches and be open-minded. In many cases, they don't know what to ask for. Take Apple for example:
Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, 'If I'd ask customers what they wanted, they would've told me a faster horse.' People don't know what they want until you show it to them.
So think about what vertical or angle you can take away from their core pain points and flip that into your business solution.
How do you differentiate?
Surprise surprise - individual, unique offerings have greater success. However an individual positioning for the sake of it doesn't work, so find something real and honest. Again this all comes back to your customers, they can see through ingenuity.
For some business, their point of differentiation is glaringly obvious. For others it requires a shovel and a bit of digging. Break apart the components of your business and think about what you could be doing better or differently. That's how you end up with value that's going to attract attention!
This process starts from a place of theory (i.e. your assumptions on what makes you different and why customers should care). Don't just stop there, do your research and user testing. Ratify this theory. Pay for survey data, interview current and potential customers, show a prototype and get raw feedback.
Sure it's a timely process, but by the end you're making educated, confident decisions for your brand that are central to your customer.