Whatever creative endeavour you’re on, be it a writer, a podcaster or photographer, you no doubt derive a great sense of presence and fulfilment from your craft (if you don’t then pick something else!).
Getting into and staying in the flow state for long periods of time is linked to emotional wellbeing.
But unless you’re doing things purely for your own enjoyment, then you probably also derive a sense of satisfaction from the joy your work brings to other people, especially if this joy can be monetised and liberate you from having to work a standard J.O.B.
But it’s a jungle out there!
Getting noticed can seem impossible, especially when you consider that:
The Laws of Nature Are Against Us
The Pareto Principle suggests that 20% of causes are responsible for 80% of the effects. For example, eighty percent of the cars on our roads are on twenty percent of the roads. 20% of the land-owners own 80% of the land. 20% of software bugs are responsible for 80% of the debugging.
You get the picture — this phenomena shows up everywhere!
But if you break this down further and multiple 80/20 by 80%/20% you end up with 4/64, which means that 4% of causes drive 64% of effects…and 1 percent drives 50%! When it comes to creative pursuits, it’s usually the top 1 to 5% of people or brands that will command the lion’s share of audience and income.
For example, the world’s highest-paid authors sold almost 25 million print books alone in the US in 2018, accounting for US$283 million in sales. However, the overwhelming majority of authors struggle to make a living without supplementing their income with keynote talks, online courses, freelance copywriting and maybe even an actual job.
So in order to give ourselves the best chance of cutting through the noise, it’s helpful to think what is beyond our core target market in order to increase our reach by an order of magnitude or more.
How To Identify and Target Secondary Markets
Step One — Review Potential Categories
Take stock of the following categories that you might target, especially those outside your obvious core domain.
Step Two — Shortlist Key Ideas
Identify key themes from your work and determine which of these is transferable to one or more of the above mentioned categories.
For example, say I wrote a book about leading startup companies.
Themes I might extract from my table of contents or index might include:
- Motivating your team in difficult times
- How to make better decisions
- Empowering your team
- How to sell your product
- How to navigate uncertainty
I’ll then want to cross-reference these themes with the above-mentioned categories to first identify which secondary categories I might target.
For leadership, this might extend to sports, aviation, careers, business, family, higher learning, investing, management, marketing, military, fitness, psychology or religion.
Rather than just target leaders at startup companies via entrepreneur-centric publications and podcasts, I now have a considerably larger audience to go after.
Step Three — Tailor Your Message
You can’t be everything to everyone. A lot has been written about finding your niche and sticking to it which makes a lot of sense, especially in today’s market.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t step outside of your niche with a niched message.
It’s time to look for unique, category-specific angles. Doing so will go a long way to appealing to secondary markets in a way that a generic message never will.
People love to learn from adjacent fields, and apply said learnings to their own lives. We love analogies, whether they come from nature, or from other domains. For example, we love applying leadership lessons from, say, the military or sports to business.
When it comes to our hypothetical book, I might target the following domains with the underlying angles.
- How to make game-winning decisions under pressure (decision making)
- How to rally your players during a losing streak (motivating your team)
- How to deal with ambiguity in the skies (navigating uncertainty)
- How to sell your ideas to your kids (sales)
- The psychology of selling (sales)
- The value of decentralised command (empowering your team)
By taking this approach, our budding author isn’t just targeting Harvard Business Review, but maybe also LiveStrong for sports, Acorns for investing, Stripes for military and Monster for careers.
If you want to reach significantly more people or brands, always ask ‘who else might benefit from my work?’ and execute.