Some time ago I attended a networking event, where we all went around and introduced ourselves. One business owner said, “I’m a real estate agent and I also make and sell jewelry.”
Listening, I thought, “I hope she has completely separate websites. If I buy jewelry I don’t really care what else the jewelry maker does. But if I’m paying an agent to sell my house, she’d better be devoting all her time to the business!”
Realistically I know she’ll need time off to have a family and a life — but that’s not what needs to be part of her marketing story.
This story comes to mind when I get asked, “Do I need a separate website for my second business?”
The question might seem small, but actually it’s an important component of niche strategy. It’s not unusual for a business to have multiple niches.
In fact, it can be a buffer against hard times in your target market. During the pandemic, writers and designers who targeted the travel industry will be directing efforts to other niches that are alive and well, such as the legal or finance industries.
But now you’re deciding, “Do I need another website?” Here’s how to assess the situation.
(1) Are your target audiences synergistic or antagonistic?
Synergistic: You’re a yoga teacher who also teaches others how to become certified as yoga teachers.
You gain credibility from both audiences. Your yoga students respect your status as a teacher of other instructors. Your aspiring teachers appreciate your role as a teacher: they know you’ve been in the trenches and you understand how classes really work.
Antagonistic: You offer services completely distinct and your audiences don’t like or respect each other. For example:
A cruise ship would have trouble targeting both young families with children and people seeking a quiet, relaxing experience, with scholarly thought-provoking lectures as the evening’s entertainment. You get the sense of, “If they’re here, I don’t belong.”
Or you’ve been providing design services to mid-size companies with 1500 or more employees. You begin getting requests from small solopreneurs. The smaller companies are easy to work with, require less documentation, and pay fast. But each segment might question your expertise: “If he works with that group, he won’t understand where I’m coming from.”
Most commonly, businesses fall somewhere in the middle. It’s a matter of designing your position and message to accommodate multiple targets.
(2) Will clients be wary if they see you’re promoting for the other audience?
My first site was associated with careers. I still maintain the site and sometimes get clients who seek career change advice.
I tend to emphasize the synergy. These days, most mid-life career changers need a side hustle; many will decide they’ve outgrown the corporate world and want to start a business. Nearly all my career consultations end with a discussion of how the client can transition from corporate life to entrepreneurship.
Most of my clients “get” the synergy. But I’ve learned to be careful about promoting the career site. When I posted a link to a career blog post, a prospective marketing client asked, “Are you still working in marketing? I saw you had something about careers…”
If you get this kind of reaction, you’ll need to manage your presence on sites like LinkedIn that limit everyone to just one profile. You’ll need separate mailing lists. During a presentation, you have to forego one audience or the other.
And you’ll almost certainly need a separate website.
(3) Can you find an umbrella story to cover both audiences?
Suppose I really wanted to maintain one website for the dual targets of business owners and career changers. I could find a theme that would be common to both and set up separate sections of the site. For instance, I might try “storytelling for business and career” or ‘writing your way to business and career success.”
Some consultants create websites under the giant umbrella concept of “success.”
One particularly imaginative consultant keeps busy with an unusual combination of corporate workshops on topics like diversity and team-building, a private practice of executive coaching, and an organizing business, delivered virtually.
She has one website. She carefully manages her content to reach the commonalities of all her audiences.
Begin with the Backstory
When you’re considering a new audience for your website, review the backstory (also called “baggage story”) of each audience. Do they face completely different challenges? Are they dealing with obstacles that no one else could understand?
Learn more about backstories when you download this free guide to understanding your client’s backstory.
If you’d like to work with me to blueprint your website or fine-tune your content, let’s set up a one-on-one consultation.