A successful niche business owner with 30 years’ experience in a competitive industry, Ian Jones shares his amazing story of how he adapted his business to better serve his customers’ needs and become an authority in his particular market.
5 Questions You Can Answer After Listening To This Episode On Expanding Your Business by “Niche-ing” With Ian Jones:
1. How can focusing on niche markets produce better results?
2. How has local business marketing changed (and stayed the same) in the past 30 years?
3. Who is Jonesy’s mysterious business associate?
4. What are some tactics for making my business more niche?
5. What risqué advertisement of Jonesy’s is still getting attention over a decade later?
A traditional business owner, Ian Jones has 30 years’ experience in the extremely competitive insurance industry. In this episode, Jonesy shares the amazing story of how he transformed his business to cater to niche markets and successfully adapted over the years to the transforming marketing landscape.
After working in the insurance industry for several years, Jonesy ventured out on his own, founding Ian Jones Insurance Brokers. While the business grew to be quite successful, it arrived at a point where the market seemed to have plateaued.
This episode isn’t about discussing one specific digital marketing or offline tactic, instead we find ourselves captivated and inspired by a story of innovation and untapped opportunities, with a few really helpful tips along the way.
INTERLUDE! If you’ve just discovered Redback Solutions, below is a short video about who we are and what we do. If you just came for the article, you can simply skip past the video and keep reading 🙂
How Marketing Has Changed (and Stayed the Same) in the past 30 Years
When Jonesy first got into the insurance business, the only real marketing opportunities available to him were knocking on doors, cold calling, letterbox drops and the Yellow Pages. Apart from being time consuming and relatively expensive, these methods were often blind stabs in the dark, with no guarantee of finding your target audience.
Times were tough and it could be really disheartening, having doors slammed in your face or getting hung up on constantly. Thankfully, Ian Jones had an associate who would do the hard work and take the rejection for him — listen to the podcast to find out who!
With the arrival of the internet in all its glory, Jonesy embraced the new and improved marketing opportunities and reaped all the benefits. He was still knocking on doors so to speak, but now it was thousands of doors at a time through email and far less deflating on the old ego!
“Rather than knocking on doors, you’re sending out emails and instead of the Yellow Pages, you’ve got a website that brings in leads.”
Jonesy has and will continue to change his tactics as customer and industry needs change. Over the last decade or so, more competition everywhere means customers have more freedom of choice and their needs have become more precise.
These days more and more businesses like Jonesy’s are profiting from this market fragmentation by breaking off or subdividing into very personalised niches, where they specialise in a very acute field and become an authority in their space.
“Niche-ing” Your Business for Better Results
Transforming your business to cater to a niche market doesn’t have to be as drastic as it sounds! All it comes down to is having a point of difference between you and your competitors that isn’t just price. This could be simply focusing on a specific customer base, or even a specific location.
Aside from focusing on a single niche or fragmenting your business, you may simply choose to create or highlight a flagship product or service that sets you apart. New and existing customers will recognise this unique value and understand that your point of difference is more than just price.
If your business seems to have hit the ceiling in your current market, creating a niche is a great way to grow. You don’t necessarily have to change your whole business; sub-businesses are a great idea if you want to become an authority within a certain area without losing your share of the more general market.
Things to keep in mind if you plan on “niche-ing” your business:
Be Fluent in the Language
In order to become an authority, you must be fluent in the language of whatever industry you’re trying to break into.
Prepare to Scale
If your aim is to expand your market geographically within a certain niche, make sure you’ve got the means to supply to these areas. Additionally, it is essential that you’ve got the right systems and processes to be able to service these new areas effectively without your business model falling to pieces around you.
Play to Your Strengths
Look at what your business is best at, what you’re having the most success with and what people trust you the most with. This will help you decide which niche to aim for, but don’t forget to research the market first and take note of any strong existing players.
Get Personal with your Marketing
Within a niche, your marketing is able to get super specific and therefore obtain more of a personal connection with your prospective customers.
“Market it cleverly so that people want to call you, not the other way around”
Leverage Your Authority
Everyone knows that customers are willing to pay more for personalised products and services. That being said, making more profits for yourself doesn’t always have to mean charging your customers top dollar.
The more authority and trust you build, the more bargaining power you have, including on the back end with regards to the supply chain. These are savings that can be shared between you and your customers, making for Dave’s favourite situation, a “win win win”!
Jonesy’s Top 4 Tips for Business Success
Find Your Niche
It doesn’t have to be a niche market per se, but the key is simply to find a point of difference between you and your competitors that isn’t price. Anyone can be the cheapest, but if you’re going down that road it’s just a race to the bottom.
Your niche could be a specific audience within your broader market, specialising in a particular location, even a product/service that’s different — or simply marketed differently!
Pimp Your LinkedIn Profile
This is the social media everyone seems to forget, but its value can be surprising. Jonesy’s story is a great example of how small businesses can use LinkedIn to not only connect with useful contacts, but also take advantage of its other features.
As with every other online asset you have, your LinkedIn profile should be keyword optimised and specific to your business. There’s no point calling yourself “Arnold Schwarzenegger, Actor” when there are millions of other actors out there — if you’ve got a point of difference, use it!
Make a Splash
Don’t be afraid to be a bit risqué with your marketing, especially if you’re aiming for a niche market. Ian Jones Insurance’s “Protect Your ASSets” campaign (listen to the podcast for the naked truth on that story!) created such an impression 15 years ago that it’s still working today!
Build a Business that Runs Itself
It can be really difficult for business owners to relinquish some control and very tempting to want to micromanage everything. On the other hand, there are some who are just dying for the opportunity to build themselves out of the scene.
As someone once said on Twitter:
“It’s better to have extremely good processes and ok workers than ok processes and extremely good workers.”
The key to building a business that runs itself is to make the small things even smaller — I’m talkin’ bout my automation! Often it’s these small, repetitive tasks in your business which take up such a huge chunk of your time, that are the perfect candidates for automation.
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