086: Picking Your Target Market – The Hows And Whys Of Niche Marketing


Peter and marketing expert, Charlie White, discuss how narrowing down the focus of their marketing efforts to a specific niche can make marketing more effective. They talk about how this approach can lead to more productive conversations with potential clients, higher close rates, and the ability to charge more for tailored services.

Read our related blog post titled: Niche Marketing: How To Boost Your Business By Targeting One Market

Here’s a full transcript of this podcast episode:

Peter Wilson: Today I’m joined by Charlie White. He is the owner of a marketing agency for small business. The name of his agency is Site and Search Set. Charlie is coming to us from Chicago. He recently moved there and a little inside story here, his family has been family friends of ours for a long time, and he and my son are good friends as well.

So I’ve known Charlie for quite a while and am excited to have him today on the podcast. Today we are going to talk about. The value of selecting a target market for your business. We also call that niche or nicheing. Charlie, welcome to the podcast.

Charlie White: Thank you for having me, Pete. I’m thrilled to be doing my first ever podcast.

Peter Wilson: So far so good. I’ll make sure the engineers make you sound great

Charlie White: I think it’s a dream that everybody has to be on a podcast at some point, so

Peter Wilson: As you know at my agency, bizmktg.com. We’ve been certified as coaches for the one page marketing plan by Allan Dibb which is a book by Allan Dibb really simplifying the marketing process for small businesses.

We are talking about the value of niching. And Charlie, you have your own take on this. So, Charlie, you’re just starting your marketing agency. I know you’ve got experience and things like that with marketing, but you are selecting your target market.

Just trying to figure out kind how to get started, what does that journey look like for you so far?

Charlie White: I was aware of the advice pretty early on, reading books it’s common that you hear people say, niche down, pick a target market and I was resistant to the idea like, I’m sure almost every business owner that you work with is I think people think that picking a niche means saying no to most other businesses that you would be happy to work with.

So for me, like getting started, I was like, well build a website for anybody. I don’t care if they’re in my niche or not and I don’t know exactly what changed my mind, but I think the advice just wore me down. And so eventually I was like, okay, if you hear something enough times, there’s gotta be some truth in it.

So I have picked a niche. I followed the advice within one page marketing plan P V P framework that he talked about which is. We can go into that later, but went through his framework for picking a niche, and I’ve decided on doing it towards adventure-based businesses.

And so somebody like a, I’m, I’m building a basically a demo website for my portfolio. And, the. Business avatars, like a whitewater rafting company. And so trying to at least start this process of, okay, this is a type of industry, not whitewater rafting in particular, but the whole adventure to a guide based business is like, it’s something that I find interesting


what websites are important to those businesses.

Peter Wilson: That’s cool. I like where you’re headed there. So what Alan talks about in the book he starts off the chapter by saying, when I ask business owners who their target market is, many tend to respond with everyone.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: And in reality that means no one.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: So like when I started my agency, I basically would work with anybody who would raise their hand and say, Hey, I need marketing help. You brought up a good point before we got on here, that just because you are focused on a particular.

Niche or target market doesn’t mean, like you were saying, that you don’t have to take work from others as well. Do you want to expand on that a little?

Charlie White: Yeah I think niching is. Important for marketing, but marketing is not the entirety of your business. And so the processes that you have in place, yeah, they can go towards your niche market or anybody else who needs a website, marketing services. But the point of nicheness to focus your marketing.

It’s not to limit the scope of business that you can do

Peter Wilson: Right, so it’s to make your marketing more effective because you’re narrowing it down.

Charlie White: Yeah.

Peter Wilson: That’s one thing because people do business with people they know, like, and trust, which we that a lot. one of the benefits of focus on a particular area is right away you’re narrowing down your focus of who you’re trying to.

Get in front of, right? You’re not trying to broadcast a message to every business owner in the, in the world. You’re, you’ve already narrowed it down significantly by saying adventure do you say outdoor adventure?

Charlie White: Yeah, I would say.

Peter Wilson: Okay. So you’ve already

Charlie White: of that. There’s much more of that going on in Seattle and Chicago, unfortunately. But

Peter Wilson: well, maybe you can.

Charlie White: from anywhere.

Peter Wilson: Yes, exactly. Yeah, so you’ve already narrowed down the focus for example we have focused our marketing on small service type businesses, so ones that are providing professional services like a C P A or a law firm. Or a, a wellness service such as a, a dental practice or a chiropractor, or a specialty doctor.

For example, we have a couple foot doctors that we do work with. So it’s very specific to service and professional services health and wellness service providers. Has been sort of our niche when we got started, we would just work with anybody. If you look at our list of customers, we still have folks that don’t fit into that niche at all that are good customers. We’re helping ’em out.

Walk me through your process with the P V P. In the book he talks about analyzing yourself. A lot of times it says it’s an entrepreneur who is trying to decide what niche to go into, and it’s he talks about p personal fulfillment, V value to the marketplace.

P profitability. So that’s the P V P. Did you apply that to your. in any way.

Charlie White: I did most of it came I think through. Personal fulfillment. I was talking with a business mentor and she really emphasized Hey before we get started, we need to kind of build your avatar, find a niche. And so her guiding questions were like what interests you? What types of business would you find really interesting and captivating to work for. And I think, yeah, outdoor adventures just came to mind me. And you have a long history of skiing together. Like it’s, it’s part of what I do. It’s part of me. And so kind of from there it was, well, this, this, the v and the second piece or the value to the marketplace and the profitability.

They don’t like cross out personal fulfillment. So basically those adventure-based businesses, they, a website is valuable for them. A lot of times they do make enough money to Basically pay well. And so I guess the, the personal fulfillment was kind of the, the catalyst to get me interested then the value and the profitability also checked out.

Peter Wilson: That’s great. If you think about that niche it seems like a lot of those companies some have locations, but some don’t. Some are more like, we’re gonna go somewhere, and so they really don’t have a, maybe a physical location to speak of.

And it seems like. The website itself is gonna be hugely important. I’m thinking of one company here that I’m aware of a little bit. It’s I think it’s called Cascade Cat Skiing or something like that. They have a bunch of cats. It’s a big box that they can drive over the snow to take you skiing.

It’s on the way between here and Stevens Pass, and they have a place there, but it’s halfway between, Goldbar and Stevens Pass. And it’s not a place you’re gonna drive there to get information.

Charlie White: Yeah, just for reference, we’ve driven to Steven’s past a hundred times, and I didn’t know this place was on the side of the highway.

Peter Wilson: So yeah, a company like that, it seems to make a lot of sense.

It’s funny the way that I ended up in my niche had nothing to do with Personal fulfillment at all. It was more like personal experience. I started off after I left the corporate world in marketing started my first area in marketing was car dealers.

Didn’t have any interest in car dealers, but a guy that I had met started a company to make websites for car dealers and I was really interested in the website side of things. So we joined forces and started a company and that turned out pretty well. And then, was in the corporate world for a long time.

And then after that it was turned out that my, I guess personal fulfillment had to do with just my friends. It just turned out that a lot of friends that were dentists or lawyers.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm. Which is a, I’ve been wondering since you said this earlier, but people do business with who they like, trust and

Peter Wilson: Know, like and trust.

Charlie White: Know, like, and trust. And so a lot of getting. Business in my stage, in your stage too. It’s, it’s kind of going out, networking, meeting these people who you know, like, and trust and finding opportunities together.

If you’re only going to try to, for me, if I’m only going to try to meet adventure based businesses, It’s a needle in a haystack when I’m going out to, to a networking event. Like maybe there’s one types of these people.

Peter Wilson: Yeah.

Charlie White: and so I guess how do the two ideas of, of picking a niche and also kind of building a network and finding people who, you know, like, and trust, like how do those two things come

Peter Wilson: Mm-hmm. That’s a great question. Well, first of all, the, it’s know, so. My advice would be to figure out where these people hang out.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: What do they read, if anything, where do they hang out? Where are they centered? Are there, are there areas where they where the owners of these businesses or the people who work at those businesses like are there shows they go to?

Meaning are there like trade shows for example. Are there associations that they’re members of, like an outdoor association of some sort? And maybe you could join that organization. A lot of times companies that are into this sort of thing will create associations because there’s lobbying that they’re doing, or advocacy for what they do. So those, those are. A few things that I would consider. And then in, in terms of the outdoor adventure thing, part of it would just be to familiarize yourself with who’s out. Like do some of it, you know what I mean? Like if, you know, if it’s whitewater wrap, go on one of their trips and you know, that sort of thing.

And that, and then ask them, I think the best source of information I. Is the individuals who you’re targeting, like try to get to know one or two and just ask them, you know, Hey, I’m interested in meeting other folks like you. What would you recommend? Don’t even try to sell them on your services at all.

Charlie White: Yeah. Yeah.

I, I love that answer. One, like, if, if there’s a association of outdoor businesses, do you think that they would let, I’m not an outdoor business, would they let a

Peter Wilson: A lot. A lot of times they’ll let vendors join organizations or associates join organizations.

Charlie White: Okay.

Peter Wilson: They, they always have a way to take your money. So, and, and even if it’s just figuring out who is in that association, you don’t even need to join it. Just figure out who’s in it and look at the list. And then there’s your list of companies you want to target.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: That’s where I would. Start there and obviously the sort of the last step there is creating that avatar, I’ll just take a guess. It’s gonna be a dude or a couple or a woman who. Is super outdoor minded who owns an, or you’re probably gonna deal with the owner or maybe their right hand person who is in charge of marketing at the organization.

And most of these folks are probably gonna have a website, but it’s probably gonna be garbage. So that’s, I’m guessing you gonna be your opportunity, but you’re gonna wanna. Create that avatar of that person as well, which is an avatar is just kind of a, a composite of who that individual is what they do, how old they are, what do they read again, what association, what do they hang out, all kinds of things.

What was their path? Did they go to college? What’s their education? That sort of thing. ’cause that will definitely help you relate in your marketing to those people.

Charlie White: So for B, like we’re both B two B businesses, do you create an avatar for that business owner and their business?

Peter Wilson: It’s clearly gotta be the person because people are the people that people buy from businesses or actually people buy from people. You have to look at the business and then look at Who is that person that is likely to either recommend or approve the purchase of the services, or who’s the decider, basically. And that’s the person you wanna create the avatar for.

Charlie White: So I think coming up with an avatar is almost the perfect task for chat G P T. G p t is very good at serving cliches, and it’s almost like that’s what you want out of your avatar. You kind of want what the typical adventure guide business owner would be or for you, the typical c p a.

Peter Wilson: Right.

Charlie White: And yeah, I like, I think you could get a, a very good avatar leaning on chat g pt.

Peter Wilson: That’s a great idea. So how, how would you propose forming that? Question, just not, not specific, but just generally what, what do you, what would you ask?

Charlie White: two. Jet chat, G p T.

Peter Wilson: Yeah.

Charlie White: Once you’ve identified who that. Target would be. So once I’ve gotten to the point of, okay, adventure tour guide business as it is, probably just come up with, identify a pretend company for this guy or girl to run. Okay. And now chat, G p t. Tell me what this person’s interests are.

Peter Wilson: Mm-hmm.

Charlie White: Tell me what associations they’re a part of. Tell me. I don’t know where they’re from. So it takes a few prompts, I think check, G p T, anything you’re asking it to do.

The keep, keep digging. And so if you just say once, give me a.

Peter Wilson: Mm-hmm.

Charlie White: of this person, it won’t be as good as if you, if you just keep, if you ask basically a similar question, five different ways. And then pull, pull what you like out of each answer.

Peter Wilson: Right.

Charlie White: There’s a lot of ways you can do it, but chat, G P T kind of supplies the creativity, but you do have to be per persistent in like finding the questions that you want answered.

Peter Wilson: Sounds like you got some work to do.

Charlie White: Hmm. Always.

Peter Wilson:

If you own a business and you’re already an established business, it’s still not too late, as we said, to do this process, even though this is step one of the one page marketing plan. You could still do this exercise to create a marketing plan for a particular niche.

Now, one other thing I’d like to add though is that if you have, multiple niches that you target. For your customers. Let’s say you decided to focus on outdoor adventure companies and outdoor equipment companies you would want to create the whole one page marketing plan for each niche.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: ’cause the way you’re gonna reach that audience. And attract them and do business with them, could be completely different.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: Is there anything else you’d like to add, Charlie, as you go through this?

Charlie White: Just back to the kind of where we started, the value of it. One thing that. Alan Deb writes that stuck out to me is once your services are tailored towards this specific type of business, then the amount that you can charge becomes irrelevant. If my solutions are customized towards your specific business type, I could charge a lot more for those solutions, whereas if they’re generic you’re competing with hundreds of other companies that offer the same thing. So it, the value comes from, in one aspect, you’re spending less on marketing because you’re talking to less people on the other side. The value comes from you can charge more for these services because they are tailored towards the specific problems that these businesses face.

Peter Wilson: That’s a great point. I’ve found in terms of working with law firms or dental practices, professional services or wellness services, when you use their language, so for a law firm, you talk about clients with them with a dental practice or chiropractor, they’re always, they’re talking about patients and new patients or NP for short.

Charlie White: Okay.

Peter Wilson: And when you discover. Their language and the vocabulary that they use in that niche, it can be super powerful and really resonates with the individuals that you are meeting with, and it immediately gives them a sense that you know what you’re talking about.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm. And that’s such a subtle difference too, just. The language of clients versus patients, but I totally see what you’re saying and a lot of times learning a language of a business is, it’s difficult. Like I remember I started my corporate job and the first few months it was just learning a language.

And so I imagine it’s the same for any type of job. They all have their own language that they speak.

Peter Wilson: Exactly. Yeah. So that’s part of that discovering the target market. And then reusing that obviously in your marketing materials well. But it really, it gives you that, but that niche gives you that leg up.

Charlie White: Yes. And I’m sure there’s several ways to do it, but there’s, it’s not a ton of work to segment your marketing lists and change make sure that you’re sending patients to your dentist email list and to clients, to your lawyer email list.

Peter Wilson: Right and part of it is just the conversations you have and the email communications. We we’re using it more in terms of the actual conversations we have with potential new clients where we’ll slip in hey, we only work with services businesses. We don’t work with retail, we don’t work with restaurants, we don’t work with real estate residential real estate. Right away we get credibility with the potential customer of ours or potential client of ours because we’re telling them that we’re not working with all these other businesses, we just have chosen to focus on a more narrow set of businesses, and then we talk about specifically about the wellness niche or the professional services niche.

Charlie White: And so do you feel that gives you the ability to charge more?

Peter Wilson: I, I wouldn’t necessarily say charge more, but I would say that the conversations that we have are more productive and

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: our, close rate is pretty high. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve found a way to charge more that’s probably on me just to be a little more diligent about the way we charge for our services.

Charlie White: But I do feel like there’s a lot of value in that for the client as well. ’cause you skip a lot of steps. You’re already familiar with their type of business.

Peter Wilson: Yep and in a lot of cases we know some of the same people, like some of the law firms that I talked to, half the people went to law school with other clients of mine.

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: Or dental school, dentists, they all know each other,

Charlie White: Mm-hmm.

Peter Wilson: and so it really creates a shortcut once you get your first couple, you’d be shocked at how the ball starts rolling.

Charlie White: I am excited to get to that point.

Peter Wilson: First. There’s one. Then and then you go from there. Charlie, this is a bit a great conversation today. I appreciate having you on my podcast and congratulations. You survived.

Charlie White: I’ve had a lot of fun. Thanks, Pete.

Peter Wilson: good. Let’s do it again. Talk soon. Thanks