Nov 7, 2012
Discovering Your Niche
The most successful and effective way to approach marketing is to understand your customer. You will often here the word “niche” when marketing is discussed. A niche is defined as “a distinct segment of a market”. Once you’ve discovered your niche, you can then put into place a plan to convince the customers within that niche to choose you and your business. Below I’ll examine the 3 key factors, or B’s as I call them, to focus on when discovering, capturing, and keeping your niche. They are:
- Be Unique
- Be Timely
- Be The Best In Their World
Part 1: Be Unique
What can you do that someone else can’t or won’t? Think of what it was that got you interested in starting your own business to begin with. Was it a unique new idea of something that would change the world? Or maybe you worked for a company, and decided you could produce a better product on your own? In any case, something ignited a fire within to step out on your own. Regardless of where you are in your company today, it’s vitally important to capture (or recapture) that feeling. This is harder to do the longer you have been in business. That’s why you see so many businesses treading water. Not sinking but certainly not sailing, year after year after year. This is not what you want.
You want SUCCESS, right? If not, then go right ahead and enjoy your treading. But for the rest of us that got into the water to sail, we’re here for a reason. We need to bottle that feeling and enthusiasm now, because we’ll need to draw upon it later on down the road.
The Trouble With Competition
If you’ve decided to become a realtor, that’s great! Now, let me introduce you to half my neighbors who are also in real estate…. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve chosen to be a realtor, or a banker, or a air conditioning repair man, or a wall street powerhouse, you can pass the first test of being unique. As a matter of fact, you have a stronger reason to pass it due to what I like to call “the sea of competition”. If your goal is to just be as good as the next guy, then why are you in business at all? The only way you can be successful in the sea of competition is to convince your potential clients that they should choose you instead of them. As it is for your competition. They are going to do everything in their power to convince your customers to choose them instead of you. This is a very petty and costly game to play.
Now for a moment, visualize yourself and your business as the only one in the world that can provide XYZ to your customers. What a huge advantage you would have! This must be the feeling inventors experience when they finally perfect that breakthrough product. Nobody will steal your customers away because nobody does what you do. If you are in real estate, you sell houses, just like the nine million other real estate agents in your town, but none of them provide XYZ to their customers. That’s why you’re different, and your customers choose you again and again. Once you communicate that to your customers, and provide a need for that service, you then become unique.
If you decide that you are going to just “compete”, from the day you turn the key to your new business, the odds are stacked against you. Yes, this is the way the majority of business is done, however, that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective way. We constantly hear the phrase “90% of businesses fail within the first year”? Of course they fail. They set out on the competitive plane and get knocked around before they ever get out of the gate.
It really is a simple lesson of supply and demand. If you are fortunate to have a businesses that is enjoying the fruits of high demand (much like the real estate agents of 2004-7), you better be preparing for the day when supply catches up. The thing about supply and demand is that they cannot co-exist. While this principle may give some hope to those struggling in an industry where supply is at it’s peak, why not exit the world of competition and create your own demand?
Competition Vs. Creation
I would like to submit the concept of Creation rather than Competition. As a young person, sports played a huge part of my childhood, and for good or bad, competition was a real part of what motivated me when I was younger. However, as I grew the games became more important and the competition grew much more fierce. As is the case with competition, it doesn’t matter how good you think you are at something, there is always somebody around the corner that can beat you at your own game. When I met these people, and frankly had my backside handed to me, I lost confidence in myself, withdrew from the activity, and eventually gave up altogether. How many times in our life and in our business do we go through this same competitive process? We’re built up, then beat down, withdraw, then eventually give up. It’s a sad, sad cycle.
As I became an adult, instead of the playing field being marked with white painted lines and leather footballs, the players wore finely pressed suits and were trying, like myself, to climb the corporate ladder. After a few years of struggling up the ladder, I learned a very profound and timeless principal. Rather than competing with those around me in order to find success, I needed to create something new and original, so that not only would I find success, but also all those around me would experience success.
In business, are you creating something, an experience, or work environment, or otherwise that not only benefits your pocket book, and self worth, but also all those around you?
In your personal life, do your ventures and aspirations grow something bigger than yourself, or are you just keeping up with the Jones?
I know, that may sound a bit Pollyanna, but I believe that as you create, for yourself and for others around you, a ripple effect is put into motion that benefits you in a vast array of ways later on down the road.
So the challenge is: How do you eliminate the competition? The answer’s not as hard to as you may think. Working in your favor is the fact that we live in a world of non-communication with limited to no interaction between the makers and the buyers. We are conditioned to just pay our insurance premium to the giant company, and really have no interaction with our “representative” unless we need them in an emergency. For a moment, pause and think if your auto insurance agent were to truly take an interest in you and your needs (beyond the brochure telling you that they are going too). How powerful would that be?
Is it hard to be unique? Yes, it is. Is it worth it? No question about it. In general, I think most companies are started on this principle. They think they can provide something others can’t or won’t, and may even succeed for some time doing that very thing, yet for the most part, they forget, get lazy, or simply get swept out to competitive sea.
My next article will be focused on Part 2 of this series. It will examine the second key factor. “Be Timely”.