Is your industry too niche? Is your market so narrow that content marketing seems impossible?
These are common concerns, but they’re not death knells.
If anything, your industry competitors likely share your same perceptions of limitation. That means even a minimal adjustment in your marketing can have payoff relative to what competitors are doing.
If everyone is dismissive or disengaged, just one counterpoint creates differentiation and opens the doors to more marketing opportunities.
It’s all about assessing your niche, claiming your corner of the market and specializing in a certain type of content experience. In many ways, content marketing niches can actually be an advantage.
We’ll discuss all the struggles that small or boring niches bear, how they can overcome them and how much they stand to gain from doing so.
First, niche marketers typically cite the following trouble areas:
My industry is oversaturated
While it’s unlikely that smaller markets are already saturated with amazing content, it may be the case that your company operates in a well-established market and you’re struggling to carve out your own niche.
Industries like fashion, lifestyle, education and marketing are typically high profile, and businesses in those spaces are well-known to the average consumer. Influencers, endorsements and sponsorships gravitate to these industries, and if your business is surrounded by a large crowd within these industries, differentiation can be difficult.
In cases such as this, amazing creative and high-value visual concepts may be out of your budget or talent range, so specializing in a micro niche may be worthwhile.
Just look at the content marketing space. There are agencies that do everything, vendors that only do SEO and even micro businesses that do just local SEO. Profit exists in the local SEO corner of the market, so you’re no longer going head to head against every content marketer, just other local SEO vendors in your region.
Before you think big you may have to think small.
My competitors have larger marketing budgets and better brand recognition
This is, for the most part, out of your control. And you can only control what you can control, externalities be damned.
Content marketing campaigns are not all created equally. So a large budget that is mispent is no better (worse actually) than smaller budget that’s well-managed.
Content marketing campaigns are not all created equally. A large budget that is mispent is no better (worse actually) than a smaller budget that’s well-managed.
So the more important component to this complaint is the actual strategic marketing investments on the table, not necessarily budget size. It may be a tad disingenuous to say that budgets don’t matter – they do – but you could also say that using budget as a sole excuse for inaction is also disingenuous.
Companies with bigger reputations and established brand recognition have an inherent leg up, true. But what we’ve often seen is that these large brands have plenty of weaknesses. They may have strong word-of-mouth recognition, or even an immediately recognized logo, but their local SEO is nonexistent, or their referral traffic is extremely low quality.
So the game is not to compete on their terms, it’s to win on yours. Direct business competitors are not always your digital competitors. So if you can outrank your larger competitors in organic search, that’s a victory. That matters more than the nebulous “brand recognition” – organic traffic is measurable and more actionable.
My boss doesn’t understand the value of content marketing
This one is tough. Completely frustrating, we understand.
One reason for executives not seeing the value in content marketing, and thus limiting your budget and questioning all of your decisions, is because they simply are not well-versed in the intricacies of marketing ROI and the various content formats. To a degree, that’s fine.
The key is that you as a marketer need to be speaking your boss’s language, not your own. Don’t hit your boss with several charts from Google Analytics or slides about social media engagement. Those are important, just not to your boss.
What they want is direct ROI. A straight line. Inputs and outputs.
So if your niche is small and your budget is even smaller, you need to be adept at presenting performance metrics succinctly and in hard dollar amounts. Don’t cite intangibles like sessions or traffic sources. Just quantify the investment and the return.
Here’s an eBook to help out with exactly that.
My industry is boring … incredibly boring
Is your company in an industry that’s so dull you literally don’t even bother trying to explain it to others? Could your company headline Yawnfest 2k19?
Boring is subjective. Frankly, the Beatles bore me. Moving on.
Sometimes boring is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s important to remember that you are not your audience. Your content is not created to meet your personal standards; it’s created to engage your target audience and encourage them to take a specific action, like requesting a sales demo or downloading a white paper.
There are people out there who are passionate about HR software or manufacturing throughput, for instance. You should be marketing to them, those who are completely enmeshed in their industries, who have purchasing power, who would love to see more content out in the world geared specifically to them.
You could create that. Or you could just say it’s too boring and let one of your competitors fill that void instead. Your call, Tammy.
Niche marketing through targeted content
Regardless of industry, company size and marketing budget, content marketing is trending toward personalization and highly targeted audience messaging. That’s a trend every marketer should capitalize on.
Excelling within content marketing niches can be accomplished in a number of ways, and the tactics you use are highly customizable to your specific business and its competitors.
Below are some quick-start ways to connect with your audience and leverage every possible advantage your business may have:
You’d be amazed how flimflam and unscientific most marketing brainstorms are. Many companies chase after tangential lines of thought, or try to hop on to every new social media fad. Others sit in a room for 30 minutes and spitball ideas that sound cool in theory but never stand a chance at actually ranking.
Generating topics strategically and with verified metrics to support those topics is a baseline mechanism for outpacing competitors right out of the gate. If you lay the foundation for strong content performance, you’ve already constructed a pipeline for success.
There are dozens of ways to go about this, but we’d recommend starting with some version of:
- A marketing and sales team meeting, whereby you gather all the top concerns, pain points and queries the sales team commonly fields from customers and prospects.
- Use an SEO tool like SEMrush or Market Muse to identify topics and keyword phrases your competitors are not performing well on. Long-tail keywords are often good starting points.
- Time topics to dovetail with existing campaigns, product launches or marketing objectives, like lead gen, webinar signups, etc.
We have a mega post on simply coming up with ideas, so take a look.
It’s likely that there are particular websites or publications that traffic in specialized subject matter and niche audiences. These are often trade-specific, and they are just the platform for posting your content. The target readership is highly engaged and extremely knowledgeable of the topics at hand, and they’re probably eager to see unique perspectives and topical authority from your brand.
Just reach out via email; it’s that simple. Ask for submission guidelines, syndication opportunities and link-sharing potential. You can promote your content as much as you want, but if it’s not done on targeted platforms, it could be of negligible benefit.
Social media commentary
The comments sections of social media feeds can be sources of new content inspiration. They are also homes to engaged followers and content consumers.
Scan your social channels, as well as the channels of your competitors, to see which posts are pushing boundaries and prompting higher-than-usual commentary and engagement. There may be something to this, something which you can replicate.
You can also use a social-listening tool, like Awario or Hootsuite, to automate your monitoring of these feeds. You’ll be notified as soon as a specific brand mention or key term pops up so that you can quickly assess the social landscape surrounding these statements and decide whether it’s worth it to build content around that trend or topic.
For all the talk about digital marketing being the only form of marketing that consistently produces ROI, there’s still a thriving atmosphere of engaged prospects and industry experts at trade shows, conferences and paid events.
Niche markets may benefit from fewer touchpoints necessary to close a deal – you don’t always need to produce dozens of content pieces and nurture leads for months on end. Sometimes swapping a business card and attending seminars and lectures given by those in your field can reduce the number of steps normally required during your sales process.
You’ve already made in-person contact, and you can easily schedule a follow-up call after the event. From there, sharing marketing collateral and giving a demo may be the only touchpoints necessary before this prospect feels comfortable purchasing from you.
As companies invest more in content marketing – worth more than $400 billion – they’re likely pulling investments from physical marketing and trade shows. You can hold the line on these investments and ensure you’re making a physical impression on prospects and that you’re engaged on a human level with customers. That’s how you stand out.
Repurposing/repacking existing content
If reinventing the wheel every month is too arduous, you can pivot to re-optimizing older content instead. This is an extremely lucrative strategy, especially for niches with stiff digital competition.
Find a keyword for which you rank on page 2 of Google: It’s close to page 1, but it just needs a little touch-up to move up a few positions. Remember, 90 percent of all clicks occur on page 1, so increasing your organic rankings just a few slots in SERPs can be the difference in zero visibility and ALL the visibility.
Again, SEMrush or Market Muse can help you determine additional subtopics to include in your existing content. Often, you’ll need to add several hundred more words to your copy, as well as embed more visuals and links. Once you’ve updated your content with recent data and for complete adherence to search intent, republish, keeping the URL the same.
We’ve reaped enormous rewards with this approach, typically with long-form content that’s close to 2,000 words, and it’s helped us to outrank a bevy of top brands in our space, like Moz, QuickSprout, Yoast, Searchmetrics and HubSpot.
Modernize your content marketing stack
It’s often the case that competitors are better streamlined and more efficient; they’ve integrated and automated all of their marketing platforms, from email and social media to CRM and analytics.
This is ideal for every company regardless of size. But you can also modernize the actual content formats you release into the wild.
Everyone has read a blog – 4 million new ones are published every day – and infographics are so common today that there’s surely some semblance of audience fatigue with heavily branded, cartoonish graphics and animations. But livestreams, webinars, slideshares, quizzes, surveys and various types of gamification give your brand a more savvy marketing sheen, and they also offer your target audience media that’s more engaging and practical to their time demands.
The collateral benefit of these more tech-adapted content assets – in addition to being great for lead gen and engagement – is that they support user-generated content campaigns. Answers to surveys, comments from livestreams, customer queries from webinars and results from quizzes can all be compiled and repackaged into new content – and your customers did much of the initial work for you by simply interacting with your content.
This is a classic technique for leapfrogging your competitors in search. It’s the go-to method Backlinko’s Brian Dean and QuickSprout’s Neil Patel use.
Find a topic that generates a lot of demand – measured in traffic or social media engagement – in your niche. “A lot” is going to be relative, so it may be best to say “most relevant.” If a particular keyword generates 100 searches per month and it’s highly applicable to your audience, go for it. If it yields 50,000 searches per month and it’s also highly applicable to your audience, go for it – in this case it will likely be extremely competitive and only marketers with high Domain Authority will stand a chance to rank for this, but it’s up to you.
For our purposes we look at “internal linking best practices.” It’s relevant, it’s in our wheelhouse and it generates 20 searches a month. That sounds low, but it’s incredibly important to our business and our industry.
We just need to find the top post for this term, which, wouldn’t you know it, belongs to Neil Patel (#1 and #2!)
Then we use this as a template and write a post that’s better, more authoritative, more media-rich and more comprehensive. You can use this method for any of your competitors and the search terms for which they rank.
Social media marketing is important for initial touchpoints with online prospects. But influencer marketing, more specifically, can boost your social signals, add credibility to your brand and enhance your reputation in the eyes of industry insiders.
If the goal is to be relevant and perennially available to your audience, influencers get you more boots on the ground. There are plenty of drawbacks to choosing the wrong influencers, which you can read more on here, but the benefit is that you gather a third arm, a welcome addition to your in-house team.
Influencer marketing is akin to having the president of the United States give a stump speech to support your campaign. There’s a power and an influence there that could never be achieved otherwise. That’s brand awareness on steroids.
Choosing a niche to market to is complicated in its own right. Is persona A better than persona B? How could you know without trying both and seeing what happens?
Well you could use behavioral segmentation of your buyer market and personalize your sales funnel accordingly. We’ve written extensively on this topic before, and it’s a simple fact that every marketer, whether B2C or B2B, can improve their targeting and messaging by segmenting their audience as finely as possible.
Here are some quick questions/attributes to consider:
Now, refining your buyer personas to this level of granularity takes time, and it takes coordination with your sales and customer-service teams. It also necessitates a cross-platform analytics automation system: You need the data and the research to flesh out these personas and segment prospects accordingly.
That said, if you’re truly attempting to stand out, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to do that than to better understand what triggers your audience and entices them to act. Segmented campaigns have been proven to generate 760 percent more revenue than nonsegmented marketing.
Content promotion + content creation
We’d be remiss to mention that creating awesome content that’s incredibly researched isn’t enough. You need an even more detailed and aggressive promotion and distribution strategy.
Publishing only on your domain won’t cut it: Your audience doesn’t camp out on your website waiting for you to dazzle them with your shiniest new piece of work.
They do, however, spend hours every day on social media and checking their email. That’s where your money is.
So, your content can distinguish you from competitors, but it’s your delivery of that content that drives dollars and actual sales conversations. That’s how you construct a profitable niche.