She's Ingenious!As founder and owner of She's Ingenious! Cally Robson's niche is in supporting women inventors and new product developers in getting their products to market. With a firm foundation of international experience with major companies and brands, and a keen sense of how to turn an idea into reality, Cally set about evolving a concept of how to best support those who are inclined to innovate, invent or create new products. Over 6 years, Cally has refined her idea to address a niche with what is now the unique and special community - She's Ingenious! Cally's approach to the business of commercialising ideas is rooted firmly in the reality of it, warts and all. It's one thing to have an idea but something else entirely to confront that 'great unknown' which is understanding what you have to know and do to get anywhere. And that's before you figure out how to sell any. Understanding the inventor-ly mindset is crucial. Stepping away from the inventor in you and looking at your idea from 7 different mindsets - including salesperson and customer champion - will enable you to establish commercial viability.
But why 'go niche'?Cally has focused on women, who may or may not be entrepreneurially minded to start with, but who are certainly of the inventor or innovator persuasion. Many would argue that the business opportunity of providing a subscription based resource, workshops and coaching is reduced by limiting to one gender. But in reality, making the decision to market to a niche could be the best decision you will make for your business. With it comes an intensity of focus, driving a better product or service, better knowledge of who your customers are and what they need. You can become the best at meeting that very specific need, and the undisputed expert. Naturally it follows that it's then easier to sell what you are offering. Why would you choose the role of being all things to all people when you can thrive at being something something special? Going niche can give you a sustainable marketing advantage and a real point of difference.
It's all grown out of experience rather than just theory.You don't necessarily happen on a niche. Cally went through the process of appealing to a wider audience, refining her offering, and had even set up a brand, domain and built the goodwill to go with it. But knowing the market you play in is what makes the difference. When you find the opportunity and can see the niche, you then need to break the fear and go for it. Cally has endured the pain of rebranding. But a good idea became an exceptional idea, with a strong brand and an easy simplicity that makes it feel like should have always been there. Laying claim to your niche is the beginning. Building credibility in a niche is a process - and is ultimately all about the knowledge you gather. Cally set about developing her own innovative crockery line - and then sought a way to make her subsequent coaching business not only a sustainable business, but one that played to her strengths in taking ideas to market. Research and insight are the springboard to position you in a niche. Building a network of the right kind of contacts and working with like-minded institutions like the British Library, in particular the Business and IP centre, helped to create the right conditions for business growth and the eventual development into the brand She's Ingenious! this year. Says Cally, I looked at the marketplace - everyone is starting a new business, in particular, women. The web provides the ultimate resource in researching and marketing globally. The combination results in She's Ingenious! - a content-rich and interactive environment. Like-minded women can find the right practical information to support them in taking their idea to market, and a network of women who are going through varying stages of the same process. She's Ingenious! is a flourishing source of personal experience rather than just theory. Members are advocates as they are getting real value from their ongoing experience. She's Ingenious! members have had a significant success appearing on Dragon's Den. Sharon Wright with Magnamole, Nathalie Ellis with the Road Refresher - the non-spill pet bowl, Sue Bell with the patented butterfly technology to get the last bit from inside a tube, Jane Rafter with her Slinks Sandals. Watch interviews Cally has captured with experienced inventor-entrepreneurs here. Cally helps shape the commercial proposition for a business idea long before anyone gets in front of the Dragons. Cally on:
CustomersMembers are enterprising women mid-thirties and upward, most likely have family commitments and want to create an alternative income stream or business asset. She's Ingenious! aims to provide just what they are looking for - relevant, current and convenient sources of information backed up with actual experience. There are resources to help enterprising people, but rarely do you find information that provides a clear picture on what you have to do. If you find worthwhile information, it's rarely detailed enough to be of full use. Many great ideas suffer the fate of stumbling from one expensive professional to the next, while the innovator tries to find the right questions to ask. She's Ingenious! steps into the gap - the niche - to give the detail, the whole picture, backed up with business savvy. The brand She's Ingenious! is summed up: Savvy. Independent. Creative. Practical. Supportive. That truly reflects the women who are members. Cally advocates creating a people-facing personality for your brand that people can relate to, and attach values and credibility to. This is especially important when your business lives on the web as it helps to cross the potentially impersonal distance between you and your customer.
MarketingHaving a great brand can make the process of marketing your business so much easier. It can work on all levels - simply communicating in an instant what you do. People aren't really aware that we are living a revolution - there are no longer any hard and fast rules. Don't think that you are going to get on top of what is happening in marketing by reading books - it's happening way too fast for that. We are living the change everyday. Beware of sticking to old-school marketing. The internet has changed everything. If you are strategic, you can do your marketing for next to nothing. With respect to email marketing - newsletters and email marketing are a fantastic way of engaging your customers and prospects on an ongoing basis. But don't be wasteful of a customer's attention - treat an email address like the gift that it is and provide a considered marketing message. Is it worth reading? Find that unique thing to be memorable or stand out.
WebMeasurement for She's Ingenious! is based on number of subscriptions. Customers who are paying members sign in and engage with content, how long they stay and consume the content is a good measure, as is their movements through the site. A conversion rate of 1% for new customers to the site is acceptable, with about 10% overall taking up the newsletter. Cally: I'd rather have 500 website visitors who are interested than 5000 who bounce. I aim for convertable traffic. She's Ingenious! has been doubling traffic each month since launch.
Cally inspired thinking to apply to your business:
- Learn from being a mumpreneur: be clear on your priorities, openly acknowledge what you can and can't do, know what kind of people you want to work with and are best working with.
- Don't do things that aren't going to give you benefit - value your own time.
- Develop a solid business model to be your platform.
- Fear is what keeps us from going niche - the little voice that says you have to appeal to everybody. Even once you have taken that first step and said 'this is my niche', you will probably find that overnight that little voice has talked you out of it, saying that you should rather play it safe and hedge your bets.
- Knowledge allows you to get focussed.
- Be disciplined about setting your business goals and monitoring your progress towards them.