After you have defined your niche, it’s time to restructure your business for your new goals and brand vision. This shift can trigger anxiety – don’t let it control you. The change you are making will bring in stable, long-term profits as you continue to grow. Although changing to something new can feel stressful; you’re chasing the larger benefits than continuing on the “print-it-all” path. To get you going, here are seven steps to a successful niche rebranding for your business.
CLEAR OUT OLD INVENTORY
Any inventory that you have which isn’t part of your new niche needs to go. Take advantage of the clearance sale approach to move some stock you know will sell and hit up destash groups or online marketplaces (Facebook, Mercari, OfferUp, ect) to unload the rest. There are plenty of hobbyist buyers. For best results on destashing, sell off your items in a lot for one flat price. The money you spent on those items is already gone; recoup what you can to use moving forward.
NOTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
If you do not have a huge audience already, then you can make this transition in silence. However, if you have a larger audience, then you will want to notify them accordingly. Make sure that you use positive enforcement for your new brand to help drive up the excitement for it. A simple statement such as “As of [date here], we [business name] will be changing our business to a curated collection. In an effort to best serve you with original, high-quality items we feel that this change is the right choice. We will no longer be offering custom one-off work but instead will be focusing on bringing you unique, one-of-a-kind items for every occasion and season. We thank you for your amazing support over the years and hope you will continue to support us in this next chapter.”
CLEAN UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS & WEBSITE
Shifting to a niche targeted business means that your old business is no more. As such, you want to remove old pictures of those items from your social media and of course, your website. Your new marketing strategy is going to be targeted at presenting your new product collection to the audience you want to attract. This step can feel counterproductive but trust me, your audience probably isn’t watching you close enough to notice that you wiped your social media of former posts. Additionally, wiping your posts DOES NOT remove your followers unless you completely delete your accounts and start new ones.
DETERMINE YOUR PRODUCT RELEASE SCHEDULE
The most important part of transitioning to a niche-based business model is your consistency. You must create a release schedule and number of items that works for you. Sellers with this approach typically do weekly or bi-weekly releases with 25-40 items. The difference between you and some other sellers is that you can mix in mockups with physical created goods that you have photographed. Remember that photographs sell the product so don’t hesitate to rely on mockups provided your finished product matches the mockup (this is important!).
In terms of mockups, your product must look realistic. This means the sizing of your design and the layout/placement of it matter. You cannot achieve this using shortcut programs like Silhouette, Canva, Cricut Design Space or similar. Invest in a real graphic design program that has blend modes and other settings to make your mockups look indistinguishable from the real thing.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the idea of creating 25+ unique products for every drop. We will be diving into planning a launch in our next and final blog post for this niching down series. Simply identify what kind of a schedule will work for you. This can be every week, every two weeks or every month. Consistent limited-run product launches is what drives up the customer buying and stabilizes your profits.
PICK A MARKETING STRATEGY
Marketing is the part of business that you either love or hate. I personally don’t love it. Marketing can be very time consuming and that is why it ends up being the first thing that businesses hire out for. However, for many small businesses, this is not within the budget. Marketing is going to be our hot-topic for February and March. But for now, think about what avenues of marketing are worth your time, in your opinion – and also acknowledge what it can mean for your business growth. Here is what I’m talking about, based on different marketing options.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is slow to build but guarantees long-term results. My goal is to send out one email per week. I grow my email list by offering freebies, discounts and giveaways – plus through customer ordering. Email marketing is a slow burn and is unlikely to be profitable out of the gate. In fact, it takes a solid 6 months to really start building your list and seeing a return on the time investment. Email marketing should always be on the table but annexed to other types of marketing.
- Text Message Marketing: For high return on investment (ROI) there is text message marketing. In a time when people are glued to their phones, this is a go-to option for a lot of businesses today. People are more likely to sign up and stay signed up when they know they will receive coupons with a link to shop right on their mobile device. Postscript is the preferred choice for text message marketing and is easy to setup. All you have to do after that is invite your customer to sign up for that text list and be consistent with a once per week or bi-weekly shopping alert. Remember, you don’t want to be spammy.
- TikTok/Instagram Reels Marketing: If you are selling handmade items, taking advantage of Instagram Reels/TikTok is a must-do. Should you do both? Only if you have time. My personal opinion is that TikTok offers less long-term benefits for social selling in our market. You might have one or two products that take off, but as Instagram is an actual social media platform, you’ll have better luck investing your efforts there. The good news is that you can repurpose your content for both platforms easily and you can do it all right on your phone. Even better news – if you’re a maker who doesn’t want their face on camera, then there are tons of unique reels/tiktok ideas that are strictly focused on your product, not you and no dancing!
- Facebook Ads: I’m only mentioning this because people will ask. Facebook advertising – including Facebook Pages and often Facebook Groups, are the lowest return on investment marketing. Pages likes and group numbers DO NOT translate to sales. Keeping up engagement on Facebook is an uphill battle when the algorithm is actively working against business – and it’s even worse for small businesses because they have smaller reach. Facebook Groups require the MOST time investment and I can attest that it often interferes with the work you are trying to do to sell your products. Additionally, the algorithm is still an issue. We have good engagement in Sub That and have almost 60K members at the time of this article – yet our average giveaway only attracts 400-600 people. We giveaway some pretty awesome equipment and other items; that should drive giveaway engagement on it’s own; yet it doesn’t… because of Facebook’s algorithm.
- Pinterest Marketing: Pinterest is a visual selling platform and what I consider to be a must-do for your small business. We are going to dedicate a whole month (April) to Pinterest marketing because there is that much to take advantage of. What I love about it is that it is minimal effort and easily drives sales because people go there FIRST when they are looking for ideas.
Pick one, pick two, pick them all – it’s your call. If you’re looking for an easy way to manage your Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook pages/groups then I recommend OneUpApp.io which is the platform that I use. It’s very affordable and easy to navigate.
In order to successfully launch your new niche-focused business and facilitate customer growth and sales, you have to be able to deliver your product in a reasonable time frame. Your products should not be on a 2-3 week turn around. Your products from one launch should be shipped before a new launch. In the handmade market, it’s easy to buy and make as orders come in. Your new business model does not fit this approach – unless you happen to live next door to your favorite blanks supplier. When you are first starting to create niche-based products, you are likely going to print them based on the orders that come in to save on product waste. This is acceptable as long as you have the materials on hand.
Changing over to a niche-based business model is not an immediate success so it is important to plan accordingly. After you have a few months in and have built up your customer base, you’ll be better equipped to make items ahead of time and therefore be able to ship faster. For the average small business focused on a specific niche, each launch tends to sell out within a few days – and eventually on the same day. Any items left over are discounted. You’ll discover that this is all part of the growth process you’ll navigate on your new journey. For now, be sure you have products on hand that you are ready to print and pack for your launch.
CONSIDER COMPLIMENTARY PRODUCTS
Here is the secret to a great niche product launch – every product is not time consumingly made by you. There are many different approaches to complimentary products. If you sell office accessories, for example, maybe you purchase some bulk printed notebooks with a pretty graphics that your buyers will love to purchase. If you’re selling clothing, maybe you purchase screen prints of two or three designs that you can print on a sweatshirt in under 30 seconds. If you’re selling coffee mugs, maybe you purchase bulk coasters that are laser engraved or just patterned nicely. My point is, you do not need to make every product in your launch. Outsource certain items that you resell only helps you drive up your collection value and your profits. Understanding this is another difference between the business owner mindset and the hobbyist mindset.
Lastly, please remember that this transition will take time. As with all things business, the most important part of it all is that you are consistent in your efforts and trust the process. The rewards come with the work. Set realistic expectations based on the efforts you put in. If you’re not utilizing a website for selling and only relying on Facebook then expect it to be a slow process. If you’re actively using Instagram reels to get your brand out there, then expect a faster process. How you market and strategize your business is what makes you successful. Be willing to do the work in order to achieve the results you are looking for.
Next week we will talk about how to plan, price and execute your first product launch – get ready!