CEO of Groundworks, the nation’s largest privately held foundation services company.
Many businesses aspire to be the next industry giant. However, before a company can have a far-reaching role across many areas, it helps to start with a narrow focus. A business niche is an opportunity to create a meaningful impact while positioning your company for a successful growth strategy. It can seem counter-intuitive, but growth requires focus. As the CEO of a fast-growing foundation repair company, I know that the expansion we’ve achieved over the past few years has been driven by focusing on our niche services.
If you’re just starting out in real estate or home services, it can be difficult to identify your business niche. The challenge doesn’t end there. It’s actually just beginning. A niche business strategy means investing in a single area of focus, developing market relevance, building a reputation as experts and growing a loyal customer base. Use these five strategies to develop your business niche for a focused approach to building a national brand.
1. Use market research to discover your niche.
Market research is critical to identifying a business niche where your company can establish its authority. Start by narrowing your focus. Look for an opportunity gap where there is an unmet need, an innovative product or a distinct problem. This will become the key differentiator that will help you carve out your niche.
Next, clarify your target audience and their priorities. Your company must be aligned with consumer sentiment. By understanding the audience for your niche, you will be able to reach more customers and better serve their needs.
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For instance, Groundworks’ niche is especially effective because our services require specialized equipment, highly-trained repair crews and proven solutions. Having expertise in such a niche lets homeowners trust us to protect, repair and improve their greatest asset — their home. When developing your niche, strategize as to how your focus can give you an edge. By leaning into your market advantages, you will have a strong position when leveraging your growth strategy.
2. Build the right messaging.
Communication strategy can make or break a niche business. Because of your business focus, it’s important to convey key messages that resonate with consumers. From a consumer’s perspective, they choose a niche business for its industry leadership, expertise and authority.
The way that you communicate about your expertise is key to attracting the right customers and developing your reputation as industry experts. The goal with your messaging is to build the type of brand recognition where your company name is nearly synonymous with the niche.
3. Develop your national strategy.
Some specialty businesses remain local companies, but to take your business to the national level, you need a national strategy. This strategy will be determined by your industry. For example, technology makes it easy to scale up e-commerce or information businesses. Real estate or home services can be a little more difficult because it often requires a physical presence.
Our national strategy has used an umbrella company model. This combines the parent company’s advantages with the local relevance of regional subsidiaries. Customers feel secure with the national standards of service quality and accountability, while local leaders offer a deep understanding of the unique needs of homes within their regions, such as coastal flooding or clay soil.
4. Build a team of leaders.
If you want your company to lead in an industry, you need to build a team of experts with well-developed skills. As your company grows, internal communication and professional development will become even more important to your niche business strategy. Build a top-notch team by giving employees access to professional development resources, such as online learning, books and podcasts. Leaders should also deploy a strong internal training program that unifies your company culture.
Investing in your team and developing knowledgeable leaders has three key benefits: First, it helps you better serve customers who are seeking your company’s expertise. Second, training supports the individual growth of each employee, a key part of making each employee feel like a member of the tribe. Third, building a team of leaders has a direct benefit to your company by building the human infrastructure for you to grow.
5. Establish partnerships and alliances.
A niche company can also improve its chances of success by building strategic partnerships. No matter what your industry is, partnerships can give you a leg up on the competition. Look for ways that corporate alliances can help feed your business goals. If you need more local relevance, try partnering with local companies in your target markets. If you want more referrals, identify other companies with an analogous product or similar client base to help you better target your audience. For example, homeowners who need crawl space encapsulation may also be using pest control services, making this a natural partner for our foundation services company.
Your niche business strategy can help you develop a national brand. Even in a crowded industry, you can succeed through focus, expertise a good communication strategy and investing in your team.
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