Find A Market Niche
And Make It Your Own


Article by Steve Brewer

I 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 niche.
 
Why you should narrow your focus
 
It's 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 audience:
  1. Using very expensive, repetitious advertising over a long time period like McDonalds, or
  2. Generating tons of media coverage in a short amount of time, like Amazon.com.

Unless you 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.

 
How to focus
 
The 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 make.

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.
 
Ways to focus your business
 

By product type

Limit your product offerings to a specific category, and become the recognized expert in that category.

By type of customer

One prominent 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

Specialize 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.

By convenience

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:

  • Publish a quality catalog and sell by direct mail;
  • Sell your hats via the Internet;
  • Arrange to bring a selection of hats to the customer's office or home (limit this to your best customers); or
  • Develop cooperative marketing with a small shoe store or other complementary business.

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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Steve Brewer is the owner of Eureka Marketing Services. He can be reached at 952-417-9594 or:

Email: sbrewer@eureka-marketing.com.

View his web site at www.eureka-marketing.com

Want to use this article? Copyright 2001 Steve Brewer. All rights reserved. This article may be used only for personal use. To reproduce this article in any way, you must obtain permission by contacting Steve Brewer. He can be reached at 952-417-9594 or by email at: sbrewer@eureka-marketing.com.

 

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