In theory, everyone in the world is a potential customer. After all, why would you want to turn away business? The reality, of course, is that you have a specific audience that buys and uses your product. Time and again, though, we see companies that fail to define their target audience in a meaningful way. “Men and women ages 18-64” might sound like an audience, but all you’ve done is define people of working age; many companies do little better, adding a location or arbitrary salary to the mix. By casting a wide net in hopes of being everything to everyone, they end up meaning nothing to anyone.

By tightly defining your audience, you’re not limiting the number of people you can sell to. You’re increasing your success rate by focusing your brand in a way that creates deeper relationships, greater efficiency and more effectiveness in your marketing, getting the most ROI from your budget. These days, successful marketers go beyond defining a target audience to going after a niche audience, a highly focused group of people who will be much more engaged with the unique aspects of a brand.

Be a category of one.
A benefit of choosing a niche is that it naturally eliminates those who would be your obvious competitors. Imagine, for example, that you run an accounting firm. Sure, you could offer accounting services for anyone who needs it, and end up competing with every other accounting firm in the process. But if your firm were to focus on accounting services specifically tailored for startup biotech companies with annual revenue of less than $5 million, you immediately give yourself the ability to rise to the top of the list for that focused audience. Creating a niche is one of the most effective ways to compete against larger, more established competitors. Southwest’s singular focus on low-budget flying, Costco’s focus on bulk buying or Chipotle’s focus on high-quality Mexican
food all helped them stand out among other airlines, retail stores and fast food restaurants, creating not just billion dollar businesses but entire new categories.

Choosing a niche isn’t limiting. It’s liberating.
By zeroing in on a specific audience, you in turn zero in on a specific brand that is easier and more effective in communicating. Our example startup biotech-focused accounting firm will be able to talk the language of their customer in a way broader competitors can’t. Everything about their brand can be tailored to this specific audience, from design to messaging, establishing the firm as the leader in their industry and the natural choice to hire.

Be the expert.
People don’t have general problems, they have specific problems. If you present yourself as a generalist, it will be more difficult to convince someone you can solve their exact need. When your brand can answer their question or concern with expertise and authority, you remove the barriers a less-focused brand will struggle to overcome. In B2B marketing in particular, there are a host of marketing tactics not typically available to B2C marketers that easily help establish expertise. White papers, conferences, webinars, speaking opportunities, articles in trade publications, guest blog posts, podcasts, books, interviews–these are all avenues where experts in their niche can make an impact and grow their brand with very little budget or effort.

Because your audience is so focused, you’re able to put all your effort into the publications, events and websites your audience spends their time, without wasting your time marketing in channels where they aren’t. Sure, you might not become a brand name that’s recognized by the man on the street. But just remember: when it comes to your brand, the man on the street isn’t always your customer.