Finding Your Niche


Large retailers often leave smaller market segments unserviced since they don’t represent, for them, a sufficiently profitable target. A small business can capitalise on these unmet needs by developing a product or service that fills the gap. You can think of a niche market as a narrowly defined group of potential customers.

A niche market can be a built on developing a product for a particular consumer demographic, such as manufacturing kosher milk products to meet the dietary requirements of particular religious groups. Many service firms have grown their business by deciding to build up expertise in how a certain industry works and focussing on attracting clients from that industry based on the expertise they can offer. Others will concentrate on a particular service line such as a dentist who specialises in paediatric work.

Still other businesses concentrate their resources on marketing to a particular region, so they could be said to operate in a geographic niche. The competitive advantage of being in a niche market derives from being alone there and of being able to offer a level of expertise others can’t match or perfectly filling a particular need.
Niche market businesses are frequently small scale since they tend to focus on identifiable sub segments of a larger market such as cleaning blinds instead of cleaning offices in general. But it’s an error to think that that is a necessary association. The First Commerce Bank, in Charlotte, N.C became hugely profitable concentrating on servicing small business clients and some accounting firms have moved into the big league through providing advice to clients in specific industries or occupations.

Making niche marketing work

There are three basic ground rules for making niche marketing work for you.

Develop a detailed marketing plan: a well developed marketing plan is the key to successful niche marketing. It has to be very specific about the basic business concept – what you are selling, who you are selling it to, why they would buy it (the benefit to the customer) and how you will make money out of it.

Appoint a niche champion: the secret to tapping into a niche market and working it to get the best return is to know just what it is the consumer will really value from the product or service you are offering. If you need to, find a niche champion with the knowledge and experience in the product/service that will enable you to develop just the right package. If your niche marketing initiative is really a subsidiary line of business within a larger organisation, for instance preparing a line of gluten-free products within a general bakery business, ensure the project is properly funded and the niche champion has sufficient authority and respect to be able to keep the project on track. Don’t throw away the opportunity through bad planning and execution.

Market hard: niche marketing succeeds or fails on its success in connecting with exactly the right kind of customer. Both the target market and the marketing channels that will most likely reach them should be closely defined. Give careful consideration to what marketing messages will work best as 'hot buttons' for prospects and will prompt them to purchase the product. Marketing spend may not need to be large but it does need to be well focussed so as to get your name known within the target market and educate them to the benefits of using your product/service. In the case of gluten-free bakery products, you could advertise in health food stores, food bars, natural healing centres and healthy living publications.

The famous entertainer Bill Cosby once said, "I don't know what the secret of success is, but I know the secret of failure and that was trying to please everybody." The same wisdom applies in business as in entertainment.

For many businesses, large and small, creating a product or offering a service that satisfies the needs of a niche market has been a recipe for success.

Until next week,
Mike Reddy