Digital Marketing Myth #1-Niche Marketing
Digital marketing is something that is professed to be understood by many, but misunderstood by most. Over the next few weeks, we will look at the myths surrounding the industry and evaluate them. We’ll talk about what bits of truth might exist in them, and why so many believe these myths.
The first myth we want to tackle is the myth of niche marketing. The general outline of this myth goes something like this: "All industries are so unique that unless you have experience working in said industry, or have done exclusive marketing in that vertical, you can’t possibly market effectively.”
On the surface, this myth seems to be true. While understanding the idiosyncrasies of verticals is important, hiring someone based solely on their work in that particular industry isn’t always the best option available. Let’s break down each part of this myth and explore why it may or may not be true.
All Industries Are Unique
While it is true that industries are unique, that doesn’t necessarily mean much. For example, the real estate industry and the SaaS industry (software as a service). While these verticals are not selling the same products, and do not focus on the same customers, they do have one very basic thing in common.
Both industries are kept alive by lead generation. Almost every salesperson in these industries is looking for high quality lead generation. When it comes to lead generation, there really isn’t anything new under the sun. The principles of digital marketing and lead generation still apply.
While there may be differences in follow-up or sales cycles, the fact remains that a qualified lead generation expert can generate leads in any industry. What most salespeople should beware of is anyone telling them that because they worked in the industry of choice, they are uniquely qualified to generate leads for them.
A few years ago, I was working with a client that introduced me to a mortgage lead generation program. The individual running the program had been in mortgage sales for a number of years, and had decided that he was more adept at generating mortgage leads for others. So he set up a platform where he would coach mortgage professionals on how to generate online leads. The majority of the program members dropped out. They claimed that they were unable to generate leads using the programs this “expert” was promoting.
His approach to selling the program was simple: “I understand home loans. So I can help you generate leads for these products.” On the face of it, it sounds right. However, the practice of online lead generation is about more than understanding the industry. It is about knowing how to leverage platforms like Google Ads, Facebook ads, and other systems that can help a salesperson make more money.
Exclusively Working in One Industry Is Better
Another major portion of this myth has to do with the work marketers are doing in the industry. For example, there are several marketing companies dedicated to working in specific niches. There are real estate marketing companies, e-commerce marketing companies, SaaS marketing companies, mortgage marketing companies, insurance marketing companies, legal marketing companies, even marketing marketing companies (no, I didn’t make that last one up).
The general argument is that these companies are built to help the professionals in their industry more effectively, because all they do is marketing in that specific vertical. Once again, understanding the industry is very important in marketing, but it is vastly more important to understand how to use the tools that achieve the goals of the client.
For example, prior to 2017, almost no one was running Google Ads for real estate. Every real estate agent on the planet had shifted their focus to Facebook. Why? It was a less expensive, more visual medium. And, even more importantly, it was easier to do. The ad creation interface on Facebook was simpler than what Google had to offer, and marketers were able to generate cheap leads for real estate agents.
Meanwhile, marketers were generating high quality leads that closed using Google Ads, and in 2020, companies that are titans in real estate marketing started catching on. The marketers that were doing this kind of work were not specifically “real estate” marketers, but understood the principles of lead generation and worked to help agents sell more houses and get more listings.
So Are Niche Marketers All Bad?
Not all niche marketing agencies are bad. In fact, many are very helpful when it comes to coaching and developing industry-specific products for their clients. Niche CRM’s are also very beneficial, as they tend to have features that make a salesperson’s job easier.
Large marketing companies can offer updates at scale, which can be beneficial for clients, as the digital marketing landscape changes quickly. So where do niche marketing companies fail?
They tend to only understand techniques developed within that industry. Outside-the-box thinking is rare at large marketing firms that are dedicated to one vertical or another. Even smaller organizations do not have the flexibility when it comes to tactics and strategies that more general marketing specialists have.