It’s the Small Things

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Published on November 13, 2017, at 1:12 p.m.
by Caitlin Heffley.

With increased tools for exposure, communication and brand development, it is now easier than ever to begin a small business, and, due to the current economic growth in the U.S., niche startups are on the rise, according to allbusiness.com.

This formula yields an increasing number of people striving to promote their ideas and services in an effort to drive the attention of their target audiences away from alternatives. It may not be as easy as it sounds though.

With age, social media is not quite as novel as it used to be, and the market is becoming more and more saturated every day, which means that small business owners with niche target markets have to start thinking outside of the box.

According to entrepreneur.com, considering audiences “based on things like interests, ethnicities or religions, rather than just demographics … open(s) up a much broader range of opportunities.”

Two particular Dallas-based startups heeded this advice.

The Halftime Institute: Appealing to the second half
Dominique Glanville is the manager of marketing & events at The Halftime Institute. Halftime is a nonprofit organization that targets corporate executives transitioning into a season of retirement. The company aids its clients in deciding how to “devote their remaining years to doing something meaningful,” according to Glanville.

“We had to really know who we were trying to serve, define them as specifically as possible, and cater to how they consume information and make decisions,” Glanville said.

Even with Halftime’s concise demographic, the staff still had to face the challenges of getting it off the ground and generating the right amount of publicity without risking its credibility from overexposure.

Because its clients are mainly retired individuals, the organization was able to reach its audience through a multitude of channels, presenting an advantage in a social media-driven world. While social media has not been forgotten, it has been utilized in a supplemental capacity rather than a sustaining one.

“Our approach has been a commitment to building the Halftime Institute brand in such a way that we are thought leaders … through in-person speaking engagements, recorded speaking engagements such as podcasts, radio, or television, and in writing through books and articles published, blog posts, and social media,” Glanville said.

The nature of its counseling-like service combined with the specificity of its older target audience causes The Halftime Institute to rely heavily on building relationships and creating trust with clients.

“We have had the most success with personal referrals,” Glanville said. “So, a good portion of our marketing effort goes into reaching out to our alumni, keeping them engaged.”

BoyMom: Marketing to mothers
On the other end of the spectrum, BoyMom Designs, a clothing and merchandise brand targeted specifically at mothers of boys, was started by Amy Williams in 2007. Since then, the brand has expanded, now comprised of not only BoyMom products, but also catering to “girl moms” as well.

The growth of this small business did not happen without strategy, though. A niche market does not necessarily equal an obscure or small market, and this company’s founder and president had to get creative in order to win over her large audience.

“Nothing seems to perform as well as social media. Because we have a very specific niche, it is easier to market through your phone or computer because of the ease of accessibility 24/7,” Williams said.

Most people would agree that mothers are some of the busiest people around. Often wearing multiple “hats” every day and easily thwarted by distraction, moms demand more from the brand than do other demographics.

For this reason, BoyMom Designs has to “really know (its) customer well and what resonates with her, what strikes a chord.”

Like The Halftime Institute, BoyMom recognizes the crucial role that trust plays with its clients. Due to the vast amount of competition for their attention, businesses have to go the extra mile to establish this kind of trust.

“A lot of people on social media think what we advertise is ‘fake,’ that it’s coming from another far-off country, and (they) are tentative about spending their money online. Make sure your business looks and feels legitimate,” Williams said.

Small business PR in the future
Both The Halftime Institute and BoyMom Designs have achieved what they set out to do: gain publicity and credibility, build client relationships and generate revenue — despite the challenges of their respective target markets.

As demand increases and small businesses continue to arise, current startups like the Halftime Institute and BoyMom Designs will have to come up with new and creative strategies.

Glanville emphasizes innovation as the key to success. “You have to be relentless in figuring out how to reach (the audience) with the solution … Always be testing. Always be tweaking.”

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