It’s never exactly easy to earn customers, even if you’re targeting a popular niche with a lot of room for growth. And as you might expect, those trying to make things work in a difficult niche (one with minimal interest or a dominant brand hogging the spotlight) have to work so much harder to gain any traction. They can struggle for years to get noticed.

In this post, we’re going to set out five ways you can attract new customers in a tricky niche. This will only get you so far, of course, because it’s largely repeated business that will determine your fate. It’s what you do after you’ve made a sale that’ll matter the most. But if you’re having a tough time getting to that point, these tips should help:

Learn from the leaders

When you’re traversing dangerous terrain, it’s keenly important to look for existing paths. If someone has covered that ground before, there’s much you can learn from them. How did they get past the obstacles? Avoid the pitfalls? It’s true that your competitors aren’t likely to be forthcoming in explaining their victories, but you don’t need them to. You can simply research the moves they’ve made: the campaigns they’ve launched, the products they’ve launched, etc. 

Your products and/or services ultimately need to be unique, but it’s actually far easier to be different if you know what others are doing (and have done). Your objective should be to steal the best parts of other brands and improve upon their shortcomings. HubSpot has some great tips for budding market researchers.

Offer prize-draw incentives

Why do ordinary people play lotteries? Why do they habitually visit sites like Lotto247 to seek cash4life-style payouts despite knowing the odds that face them? Gamblers are stuck in a loop, but they’re not, yet they persist. In truth, they know what they’re doing: they just like the excitement of knowing that they could win, and they’re willing to part with small sums for it.

In other words, the prospect of a remote shot at a huge reward can have a massive impact on someone’s actions. You could offer free samples or introductory offers, but those don’t have the same psychological impact. Prize-draw incentives (whether using existing lotteries or those you create using your products) are immensely powerful.

Focus on social proof

When you’re trying to win over a crowd, you’ll face a lot of initial resistance. After all, people take cues on what they should do from those around them — and if everyone else is giving you a cold reception, a given prospect is almost certain to do the same. Almost certain. Sooner or later, someone will be willing to give you a shot, and that’s your opening.

At that point, you can do one of two things: sit back and wait for others to follow suit, or use that first customer to win over more. The latter is obviously preferable. If you can produce as much glowing social proof as possible from your initial customers, you can use it to convince others that you’re worthy of their consideration. Think of the disproportionate strength of a site like Yelp, for instance: a handful of reviewers can end up swaying the decisions of thousands.

Optimize your content

One of the biggest reasons for a brand struggling in a tough niche is that it has weak content. You can get away with poor content if you’re selling hot products, but you can’t if you’re facing any consumer reluctance. You need to actively convince the visitors to your website to buy from you (they may need convincing to buy from anyone).

Do some in-depth keyword research to determine what prospective customers are looking for, and pay attention to the leading posts in the SERPs. If you’re still not sure what your content should focus on, consider sending out an incentivized survey so you can ask some pointed questions. The more you understand your audience, the better.

Get active on social media

Social media isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for every business — but that affords you opportunities. If you’re willing to engage with your target audience and deal with any criticism sent your way, you can do much to win people over. Remember how important it is for people to trust you. If you can earn their trust, you can earn their repeat business.

And while delivering a reliable service is obviously key for winning and keeping trust, it also helps hugely to show some authentic personality. Don’t we all gravitate towards those who are willing to be themselves? People like brands that know how to drop the formality and show some humanity. So if you’re stuck in a rut, try relaxing and having some fun on social media (whilte avoiding controversy, naturally). It might be the key you’ve been looking for.