I recently was involved in a discussion on LinkedIn about cold calls and how they help your business. I had given an example of the wide variety of businesses that I had written for thanks to cold calls, one of those being a group of daycare centers. Someone asked the question "What kind of writing could a daycare center possibly need?" and my answer to that question was as follows (I actually cut and pasted my response so as not to misquote myself!)

"One of the main services I provide for the daycare sites is a blog. Parents love the blog. They can request issues they'd like to see written about and I post relevant data on child development issues and provide links to online resources that can help parents. It's another advertisement the daycare center can provide to their potential clients and they're more than happy to pay for that. There are always services you can provide by looking at what is NOT currently being offered and then offering to fill that void for a business.

I want to reiterate that thought: there are always services you can provide by looking at what is NOT currently being offered and then offering to fill that void for a business. That is the key to niche marketing. Here is a good assignment to get you started. Go to the website of a local business that you frequent and ask yourself these questions as you peruse:

1. What aspect of the content applies to me, the customer? If the website is full of content but none of it applies to you, the customer, then it isn't relevant content. As a customer, you want a website to answer certain questions for you; if the site isn't providing that service, there is a niche that can be filled. And who better to fill it than you, the customer who also is a writer?

2. Is there something important missing? If you think a blog would benefit the site, explain why. If the site would gain impact by having a calendar of events, let them know.

3. Is the content on point, yet poorly written and grammatically incorrect? This one is a bit of a sticky wicket. You want to point this out to a business owner, knowing full well that he or she may well be the author of the content; therefore, you don't want to insult their intelligence. A good way to begin your conversation would be to find out who writes their web content and then take it from there. If they say they write it themselves, you can always approach it with something like this: "As a small business owner your time is better spent on running your business; I can provide you with high quality, customer-centric web content that will free up your time" etc. The poorly written content need never be mentioned.

Finding the missing link is an imperative part of marketing yourself to a new business customer. Being able to prove you have something of merit to offer is the best way to sell your services to a new client. Give it a try; research a few local businesses, identify their content issues and then make the call. You may be making your first call to a new client!

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