Using Your Niche Statement

A client, a voluntary organisation, raised a concern about marketing during their session this week.  Having a clear niche statement about what you are about, a proposition or elevator pitch, doesn’t it conceal information from prospective members or supporters?  I suppose the fear is without the detail, inquirers might feel they have somehow been fooled.

Obviously, it depends on how you handle things.  Marketing is not a value free activity and can be used for dishonest purposes.  The best marketing, however, is educational.  If you are seeking allies or genuinely want to offer help with a particular problem, then you need to set out your stall.  Those who use it to exploit make it more difficult for everybody.

Take the analogy of a shop front. You might have a window display with a written statement to encourage people to enter your shop. Once inside maybe 20 out of every 100 will make a purchase.  I haven’t chosen 20 for any particular reason.  It may be many more in some shops and a lot less when considering, for example, visitors to websites.

Shop Window

These 20 would not have entered the shop had they not seen what’s in the window. They don’t see everything you offer just enough to engage their interest.  You need the other 80 visitors because you don’t know which of the 100 will make a purchase until they enter the shop.

Of the 80, some

  • May return and make a purchase at a later date
  • May pass on the message to others who are interested
  • Satisfy their curiosity but decide it is not for them
  • Be actively disappointed by your offer

Your Website

The same dynamic applies online. Your website home page or social media presence act as a shop front. Other pages on the website explain and educate and make offers. Online the numbers may be somewhat more adverse. Maybe only a few percent will make a purchase or sign up to your email list. These conversions are what you want to increase. Those who sign up are equivalent to those visitors who make a later purchase or refer friends to your shop.

The aim online is to engage interest through your home page or social media, for example, and then draw those who are interested into your site where you can provide more information.  This extra information is important. This morning I looked at a site where I am likely to make a purchase.  I have so far not used their offer because their site lacks the detailed information I need to decide.

It is not easy to provide all the information visitors needs a format that is accessible and usable.  It’s best to make a start and then gradually make improvements as you receive feedback or gain fresh insights.  But you won’t get feedback until people visit your site and so there is no need to fear attracting them with clear statements about what your site is about.  Those who are interested will visit and some of them may stick around.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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