One of the thousands of things I wanted to be when I grew up was a news anchor, and my major in college was Journalism. While I never worked as a journalist, the fact that I trained to be one explains why I have been an early adapter of the concept that small and independent business owners must be the principal media outlets for their businesses. A lot has changed since I attended the University of South Carolina's (Go Gamecocks!!) School of Journalism & Mass Communications.
Journalism is different today, and the media world moves at a much faster pace than it did in my college days, but the fundamentals are still the same. Things like the need for honesty, integrity, clarity and consistency never change. And there's something else that hasn't changed much either, and that's the notion that each journalist has a “beat.” A beat is the particular area(s) where a journalist concentrates her reporting efforts.
For example, if a journalist is assigned to cover the local religious beat, she would focus her reporting there, covering such things as area church openings, religious book signings and visits to the area by spiritual gurus. Everything from her Rolodex to her daily calendar would be focused on collecting and reporting news she gathered while focusing on her beat.
Use Your Business Niche To Find Your “Beat”
As a small business owner, you need a specific niche, a particular segment of the market that you focus on serving. Everything you do centers around serving your niche. Like a beat reporter focuses on her beat, you focus on your niche to the exclusion of all else. As you serve your niche, you also produce content for and about your niche to inform your customers about you, the products and services you offer and the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
The more you deliver focused content to your niche, the better served your customers are. And the better served they are, they more they trust and rely on you. And the more they trust you, the more likely they are to do business with you. In order to enjoy this progression to profitability, you first define your niche. Then you develop content that serves it. This natural progression helps you define your beat. Here's an example.
The “Southern Beauty” Beat
IBN member Lisa Rodgers of Cactus and Ivy in South Carolina is a southern girl to her core. Lisa makes vegan bath and body care products, and the tag line for her business is, Where southern accents are in.” Lisa's official blog is called, “The Southern Accent.”
The content Lisa produces is innovative and interesting, and all wrapped in a southern flair. From the way she greets you on Twitter with a “Mornin' y'all!” to the “big ole southern thanks” she gives to bloggers who review her products. Lisa shares with a signature southern charm. That's her “beat.”
Not only does Lisa use her southern ways to appeal to customers, she's also uses them to appeal to mainstream media, in particular Southern Living Magazine. In fact, her south of the border style is one of the things that convinced Southern Living Magazine to send a crew to her studio to photograph and interview her for not one, but two features in the magazine within the past several months.
By making quality products and developing and refining her southern style, Lisa has also created her “beat.” This does not mean that Lisa never produces content about anything else, nor does it mean that she can never be featured in a non-southern media outlet. But it does mean that the content she produces is woven together to highlight her unique south of the border focus.
Once you define your business niche, with a little practice and consistency, just like a reporter, and just like Lisa, you will identify and refine your own “beat” so you can share your ideas and the products and services you offer with confidence and flair.
Question: What's your beat?