A Market Niche
And Make It Your Own
by Steve Brewer
recently met with a prospective client who is a mortgage broker.
We talked about how to improve his marketing efforts to produce
better results, and agreed that his company should concentrate on
one market niche.
At various times in the discussion, he decided to focus on jumbo
loans for wealthy borrowers, subprime loans, borrowers in one particular
suburb, and members of the local Chamber of Commerce.
All of those market niches might be great for his company, but he'll
never know until he picks one and goes after it. I made the same
recommendation to him that I make to all small business owners-find
a niche where you can successfully compete, and concentrate on that
you should narrow your focus
a natural instinct to keep your business as broad as possible. After
all, you don't want to turn away any possible opportunities or customers.
As a result, many business owners define their target market as
something like "everyone who needs to finance a home."
The problem is that most businesses lack the resources to reach
"everyone." There are two basic ways to reach a broad
- Using very
expensive, repetitious advertising over a long time period like
tons of media coverage in a short amount of time, like Amazon.com.
have a huge marketing budget or are in a "sexy" industry
like Internet retailing that attracts media attention, you will
need to focus your business to compete successfully.
only way to stand out is to pick a niche and make it yours. Position
yourself and your business so you can make a claim no one else can
Next, you need to find the prospects in that niche that care about
your claim. Share your message with them repeatedly and creatively.
Make a claim no one else can make, and you've given the prospect
a reason to pick you over a larger competitor.
to focus your business
product offerings to a specific category, and become the recognized
expert in that category.
By type of customer
attorney in the Twin Cities advertises that "I only do
bankruptcies, and I do them well." He has chosen a certain
type of client, and builds his market position as the expert
in the bankruptcy category.
By geographic area
in a certain geographic area, and get to know that area. One
Realtor in my town advertises himself in newspaper ads as "the
St. Louis Park expert." He has staked out a territory,
and made a claim that presumably no other Realtors can make.
If you are
a small retailer, you can't afford the hundreds of conveniently
located stores your larger competitors offer. However, you may
be able to turn this into an advantage. Let's use our hat store
as an example. You might consider:
a quality catalog and sell by direct mail;
your hats via the Internet;
to bring a selection of hats to the customer's office or home
(limit this to your best customers); or
cooperative marketing with a small shoe store or other complementary
The idea is
to create a niche as the hat seller that doesn't require customers
to come into a store.
These are just a few examples of ways to differentiate your business.
The basic idea is that you give up being a small player in a big
market in exchange for becoming a big player in a smaller market.
Most small businesses need to find a niche and carve out that
niche for themselves in order to be successful. You don't have
the time or money to compete everywhere, so pick a niche and make
it your own. It's the best way for small businesses to compete
with larger competitors and win.
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