The warmer weather has me thinking about riddles.
When I was a kid, in the days when you didn’t worry about high fructose corn syrup, artificial food coloring, or whatever other health hazard du jour today’s parents have to deal with, my Mom always had the freezer stocked with popsicles. When school let out, there they would be: nothing signals the start of summer vacation like those colorful tubes of frozen sugar water. But the best part of the freezer pop were the awful riddles that often accompanies the packaging: How many apples grow on a tree? (All of them). What’s the best side of the house to put the porch on? (The outside). How do pigs talk? (swine language).
So, in honor of the 70 degree breeze drifting in through my open window, I’m presenting you with my own awful popsicle riddle: what do a lawyer, the Pope, and an IT specialist have in common? I’m sure you’re fascinated with the possibilities (They all die? They all have to pay taxes?)
Actually, you have the same thing in common: they, and you, each have their own content niche. (This is a content marketing blog, after all). So how do you find yours? The answer is less complicated than you think and more gratifying than a popsicle stick riddle, so stick with me.
First of All: What is Your Niche?
Fair warning, I’m about to introduce a sports metaphor. If you’ve ever trained seriously for an endurance event or played a sport like golf competitively, you’ve probably heard of the “sweet spot.” In endurance training, it’s a procedure to maximize your training benefit by balancing the amount of oxygen your lungs can use with the maximum duration of your exercise. In other words, you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can, until you think your lungs are going to pop, so you’ll be able to push harder next time. When you’ve hit that optimal zone, trainers say you’re in the “sweet spot.”
Finding your content niche is less masochistic, but the same principle applies. You find your content niche by assessing your target audience’s pain points and aligning them with where you have the most industry authority. That balance is your content “sweet spot.”
How To Find Your Content Niche
The first step in defining your niche is determining your content goals. For help, look to your company’s mission and vision statements. These should clearly outline where you stand as a business, as well as where you want to go. Once you have a general idea of how your content should be shaped, do some exercises to narrow your scope:
- What aspects of your product or service have the MOST appeal?
- Do you have more than one target demographic? For example, a brand like Tom’s shoes might have two: brand shoppers who like the status of wearing their shoes, and socially-conscious shoppers who love supporting their efforts to provide shoes to developing nations.
- What problems do you solve for your customers?
- What makes you unique from your competitors?
- What values do you and your customers share?
With a little introspection and a lot of market research, you should be able to identify where you help your customers the most, based on their needs and your authority.
Align Your Niche With Your Content Strategy
Once you’ve discovered your sweet spot, it can be tempting to flood your site with content related to it. But remember, your content strategy is about so much more than articles, videos, and images. It’s a comprehensive effort that involves analysis, design, management, and evaluation. Before you jump into creating content for your niche, ask yourself one important question:
What Action Do You Want Your Customers To Take?
You want to turn enough profit to keep your company running, yes. But making money hopefully isn’t the only reason why you went into business. Break your funnel down into some smaller steps. Here are some possibilities:
- You want people to follow you on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram)
- You want customers to sign up for your newsletter
Once you have an idea of your content’s initial strategy, you can begin to decide on the design. The length and tone of your content should be directly aligned with your company’s ethics and business practices. For example, if your target audience is Millennial males, your content should be lighthearted, easily digestible, and adapt readily to mobile.
Don’t Forget The Keywords
Keywords and SEO are ultimately how you drive traffic to your site, so don’t neglect this aspect of your niche research. Keep in mind that long-tail keywords are generally easier to rank, since there’s less competition for them. You’ll need to decide whether you want to optimize to drive traffic to your site or for conversion. Marketers tend to fall in the first camp, but reach is hardly an accurate measure of engagement, as it can be easily manipulated.
Once you’ve decided what you want your keywords to do, use a tool like Google Keywords planner to plan your keyword strategy. For more information about researching and selecting keywords, this provides a pretty good primer.
Finding your niche is a bit of a riddle of itself: it requires a bit of introspection, a critical eye, and an ability to adapt. And like creating a riddle, it requires that you begin with the answer and work backward. Just don’t be in the position of making your audience cringe at your popsicle-stick stylings.