Serving a niche market

taskmasterThe past couple of days, Taskmaster has been discussing a particular kind of niche market: The “insider” consumers.


Now, I’ll trust that you’ve done your homework and had a discussion within your business about insiders in your industry. Then yesterday you’ve sought out an online message board, social media page or specialist publication where insider fans congregate.


You haven’t? Well, it’s time to sit in the naughty corner until you get it done! And drink your milk! Kids these days, I tell ‘ya!


Of course, the thing about niche markets is that the fun only begins when you’ve sought them out and attracted them to your brand. Now your staff needs to sell these customers products and support them.


The biggest difference in supporting a niche can be that they have a higher level of assumed knowledge than your mainstream consumers, along with preferences that might be different to your mainstream consumers.


So, for example, if you run a computer store and you try to sell equipment to someone who works full-time in IT, they’ll probably be after a different model of equipment or use it differently to Old Granny Mavis down the road.


Ask an IT pro during a customer service or sales contact if they’ll use their new computer for anything more than web browsing and they’ll probably find you patronising. Meanwhile, Old Granny Mavis might look at you like you’ve sprouted a second head if you ask if she’s planning to run a Linux server with Apache, MySQL and PHP on her new computer.


That is why it’s essential to get into the habit of asking discovery questions near the start of any new sales or customer service contact. A good discovery question is an open question that can help you to work out what your customer’s needs are. Make sure you train all of your customer service and sales staff to do likewise.


Also make sure your staff are trained to be able to handle more technical requests from your niche market and have a procedure to handle any customer service questions that are beyond their level of expertise. If a customer service or sales staff member promises to call back a customer after they check some key technical details, make sure they schedule the contact and keep their promise to the customer.


Finally, the specialist message boards I discussed earlier can in some cases be used as both a sales and support channel. A great example is internet service provider Internode, which uses the online tech discussion forum Whirlpool to provide its customers with support.


So train your staff – and yourself – to properly serve your niche market customers!


Get it done – after you do your homework!


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