Tips and Strategies for Thriving in Niche Markets

As the economy teeters from bad to worse, businesses big and small are all asking the same question: How can we soften the market’s blow and maximize success? Yet, in an ironic twist to the post-dot-com bubble burst, many consider the technology industry to be virtually recession-proof. Seeing the failing economy as grounds for tremendous opportunity and ingenuity, tech-specialized PR firms are continuing to grow and flourish in the downturn. With all things considered, how are these firms faring better than other agencies in this economy? What drives their growth? How do they remain competitive? And, in turn, which of these strategies can be applied by communications executives across all industries to thrive accordingly? Communicating about progress, innovation and the change agents who alter the equilibrium between past and future consumer patterns requires a different outlook on their purpose and survival game. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts for PR firms and executives looking to carve out a niche and future-proof their success: â–¶ Work in the industry that never sleeps. Across time zones and application versions, technology never rests. Specialization is required across a tantalizing array of tech parameters that evolve at the speed of light. Such in-depth knowledge about permanent competitive transformation is a key driver in fostering a niche, and de-commoditizing and strengthening your firm’s position. â–¶ Think customer intelligence, not service. Often the inspiration for new product innovation comes from a customer request. Programs focusing on driving customer intelligence outside-in provide clients with longer-term insights that can drive their success. Make your client brand and media initiatives tap into market intelligence—not to mention drive customer engagement and loyalty—and your firm will become an integral part of clients’ strategy and growth. â–¶ Help your client shift to a brand-driven business model. Technologies and related products are being copied and cloned with greater ease and speed than ever. Guide your clients toward investing in more than the bricks and mortar of their business. In a world of diminishing differentiation, price points and revenue models, the ultimate tipping point for a consumer is the brand. Partner to help your clients build more than publicity. Brand equity through relevance, differentiation and community building will help you and them carve a position that no competitor can touch in the future. Build your media and reputation campaign to drive the brand, not coverage. All things being equal, a consumer will pick a brand that holds higher market trustworthiness. â–¶ Cast a smaller net. Convert a qualified pool of media outlets and business leads into loyal customers of your clients’ brands and stories. Harness up-to-date market insights and consumer forecasting to launch hyper-targeted, synchronized media and lead-generation campaigns. The tangibility of your value will remain unchallenged. â–¶ Broaden their business community. Leverage the media in a “relationship marketing” strategy as the No. 1 driver to build your client’s brand equity growth. Build long-term partnerships to accelerate reaching new markets, innovate faster and gain capacity of scale. Through social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn, companies are finding that they have a captive audience that they can communicate with in an open source to craft go-to-market strategies proactively. A highly targeted business community audience is the ultimate sounding board for testing new concepts and product launches. Empower your clients with the orchestration. â–¶ Rethink conventional wisdom on positioning. Brands once held to one core position. Today’s fluid and ever-changing business climate requires a nimble brand and media strategy that can move on demand to seize new opportunities and hedge against competitive threats in the market. Different media and distribution channels require brands to be more agile in their approach to effectively target their audience. Brands have to be able to grow and adapt to these challenges as well, all while retaining the core principles of the brand. â–¶ Challenge B2B paradigms. Like consumers, businesses rely on peer-to-peer influencers to make high-investment purchasing decisions. Invest in cultivating relationships with other businesses and opinion leaders to trigger purchasing action, yield greater loyalty and power word-of-mouth marketing. B2B decisions are rarely made on pure cost-benefit analysis only; they are based on a variety of factors such as peer referrals, competitive benchmarking, unique value propositions and ease of integration into existing infrastructures. Successfully conveying these complex benefits to a consumer without appearing too “salesy” is key to how a technology marketing organization can be successful. â–¶ Make clients expect a return on performance. Marketing mixes should constantly be honed, measured, tested and adjusted to make sure your brand investments are maximizing opportunities for topline business growth. Because of diminishing budgets, marketing companies are required to do the extraordinary with less. As more clients require bottom-line ROI on every dollar spent, only technologically advanced marketing organizations are capable of bridging the gap between marketing and sales. An integrated mix of marketing activities that includes brand awareness, PR, social media networking and demand-generation campaigns will offer a client the breadth of scope as well as measurable ROI on dollars spent. In technology, it’s not just about being seen and heard anymore. Consumers are craving more conversation, interaction and deeper engagement with clients. Be part of the change to remain relevant. Out of great change comes great opportunities, and in an economic recession such as this, niche PR firms that are positioned to capitalize and take advantage of any openings are poised to succeed. PRN CONTACT: Sophie Ann Terrisse is founder & CEO of STC Associates. She can be reached at

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