February 14, 2005

Kicking the Niche

I love what Salesprocessdiva had to say about specializing or as she says it, “being first in your category.”

Be the first in your category. If you can’t be first, create a new subcategory in which you can be first. For example, who was the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean? Lindbergh, of course. Who was the second? No one knows, even though Number 2 presumably flew faster and more efficiently. Who was the third? Amelia Earhart. How is it we all know the third person and not the second? Earhart created her own niche in which she was first the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Here’s another example. For years the market was full of cold medicines, many of which have since faded beyond memory. But we all know Nyquil the first “nighttime” cold medicine. Distinguish your product or service to the point where it has no competition.
[Via Business-Opportunities.biz]

I love this concept. It reinforces many of my own ideas that focus on being very specialized. For example, if you sell shoes online, don’t try to be the number one seller of shoes online. There are multi-billion dollar companies that are always going to beat you in that game.

Instead, be the number one seller of men’s size 13 by selling ONLY size 13. Or ladies size 6… whatever. I know most people’s immediate reaction to that suggestion is, “No way.. you’re missing out on 98% of the public.” True, but look at the pluses. You are narrowing your market so you know EXACTLY who your market is. Before, your market was mankind. Try doing an effective marketing campaign to “mankind.” But if you just sell men’s size 13 shoes, it’s much easier to reach your target audience. Heck, you could walk in the mall and just look at people’s feet and give a card to each person you see that appears to be about a size 13. I’m assuming that since you specialize on that size, you’ll probably get pretty good at spotting a size 13.

There are more benefits to going after such a specialized market. Once someone in your market knows about you, they are infinitely more jazzed about your store or website. Being someone who is a size 13, I know how hard it is to find good shoes in that size. If I came across a site that sold only size 13, I’d flip and never buy from another shoe store again, for the rest of my life. You are creating a social affinity group, just by selling one shoe size. As a size 13 person, it would feel pretty cool to shop at a site that knows me and can identify with me.

Another benefit is being able to undercut your competition. Think about it. First, your expenses would be WAY lower than a typical shoe seller because you don’t have to stock 10 sizes for one model shoe. So, you need a 10th of the space (or thereabouts) of what a traditional shoe seller needs and at the same time, offer a much bigger selection.

So instead of beating your head against the wall, trying to outperform, out market, out price the big shoe sellers, take the easier road while at the same time expanding your business. I’d rather have 10% of the size 13 shoe market than .00005 percent of the total shoe market. (You get what I’m saying… the numbers are just examples.)

So, kick the niche. The tighter the niche, the more likely you are to succeed on the internet as a small business.

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