The experience of finding your niche in business is always a unique and personal journey.
Some business owners and entrepreneurs start out with a crystal clear vision of a highly defined niche they’re passionate about, and thrive.
But not all of us are so lucky.
There are also those who specialise in one field or service area, delivered to a broad and varied market.
While others pride themselves on being a “Jack or Jill of all trades”, offering a wide range of products and services to anyone and everyone who wants them.
While there is nothing wrong with marketing to the masses, it can be challenging to cut through the noise when competing in an already saturated market.
So are consumers looking for niche industry experts, or the convenience of a one stop shop? And how do you find your niche anyway?
Advantages of finding your niche
Start by asking yourself this:
Is there one thing you do really well? Or is there a single consumer group or demographic that can sustain your business?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you probably just found your niche!
Business owners can spread themselves too thin by trying to be everything to everyone. They could see greater results by concentrating their business (and their marketing budget) on a more specific service area or target market – or both.
Positioning yourself as an expert or micro specialist in a niche field helps you stand out from the crowd in a chorus of generic marketing.
But if you have the qualifications, expertise and drive to service a range of industries and consumer groups, you can still make use of niche marketing. Tailoring your marketing to multiple target markets allows you to deliver effective messaging that engages and resonates with each of your individual audiences.
Disadvantages of a niche business
Would you be selling yourself short if you restricted yourself to a niche market or a niche business?
That is the first and most important question you should ask yourself when considering a specialist industry.
For example, a carpet cleaning business with the capacity and resources to also provide house cleaning, rental vacate cleans and pest control, could benefit from offering their customers the convenience of multiple services from a single supplier. But only if they’re equally skilled at each of them.
Whereas offering only carpet cleaning just for the sake of carving out a niche could be detrimental to their revenue and growth.
But a multi-service company can, and should, still make use of those niche marketing strategies to promote each sector of their business to a different target market.
A niche business also needs to be something that will retain your interest for years to come. So if you’ve just watched a documentary about the travelling food truck movement and you’re thinking of selling your house and quitting your job to buy a van and make gourmet tacos, maybe just sleep on it first.
One of the other risks of building a niche business is going into a field with limited demand.
Having passion for what you do is important, but it’s not enough if there’s simply no market for what you’re selling. While a niche business should be defined, it also needs to be of interest to a significant consumer base, while being scalable and adaptable.
Delivering your niche
One industry that has experienced some of the most extreme highs and lows of niche business is that of video rentals.
A visit to the local video store was once the prelude to family nights in, rainy weekends, school holidays and first dates.
But the arrival of on-demand entertainment streaming services like Netflix brought an end to this decades-old tradition. Not because they were offering something unique – they also just sold movies and television shows. But the way they delivered the experience was different, and more aligned with our modern way of life.
Brisbane’s last video store closed in early 2018, following in the footsteps of Sydney’s last Blockbuster which folded last year. At the time of writing, only 14 Civic Video stores remain in Australia.
Meanwhile, the leading internet movie and TV streaming service Netflix posted record-breaking profits in the final quarter of 2017 , exceeding $11-billion in annual revenue.
Forbes reported Netflix had more than doubled its global operating income, gaining 24-million new subscribers in just one year.
Adding salt to the wound, Fast Company revealed Blockbuster turned down multiple offers to buy Netflix for $50-million back in 2000. In 2008, then CEO Jim Keyes was reported to have said he was ‘frankly confused by this fascination that everybody has with Netflix’.
“Netflix doesn’t really have or do anything that we can’t or don’t already do ourselves,” – Jim Keyes, Blockbuster CEO, 2008.
Two years later, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy.
Keyes was right. The product isn’t different. The market hasn’t changed. We still love movies – and we’re spending more money than ever watching them. The only thing that’s changed is the way we watch films – and a Netflix subscription means we never have to leave the couch. (Well, that and Uber Eats helps too!)
Marketing your niche
Finding your niche makes marketing easier.
When you have a clearly defined product or service, and a specific audience to target, you are able to tailor your marketing message so it really ‘speaks’ to the customer.
Digital marketing tools like social media advertising provide detailed demographics of users, so you can target a relevant audience most likely to be interested in your business.
Even if you continue to provide a broad range of products or services to a wide variety of consumers, you can use market segmentation such as multiple mailing lists and individual advertising campaigns, to deliver more personalised and relevant marketing to each of your target groups.
For more tips and inspiration on finding and defining your own niche, watch Marketing Matters Episode 8: Finding the Best Niche For Your Business.