At a recent networking meeting, a gentleman (I’m making an assumption here) leaned over to me and said “the money’s in the niche”. I nodded my head knowingly and continued listening to the speaker. Later that day as I was driving home I saw a big billboard pronouncing a “Giant Wedding Gown Sale”. I thought to myself, “that’s too narrow a niche. After all, how many really big brides are out there?”
On one hand, I totally agree, if you can capture most (or even all) of a niche market, you probably should, especially if you’re a new business owner. I usually advise many of my clients to “focus” their business message. That got me thinking, is their a difference between identifying a niche market and focusing your business message? I think so; and here’s why.
I believe that a niche is customer-based. When working within a niche, it’s all about the customer. To establish a niche base, you need to ask customer oriented questions, such as:
1. Who does my product help, or appeal to and why?
2. Are there enough customers?
3. If my market is niche-based, will my customers recognize unique value?
4. Will this attract competition (probably) and how will I handle it?
Now, let’s look at focusing your business and see what the difference is. If a niche market is “customer-based”, then a “focused business” is more product or service centered. When you focus your business (let’s use product or service in place of “business”), you’re defining your product or service better. What’s the advantage of better focus? I’m glad you asked.
By better defining your product or service, you can better focus your message. This is the moment when you stop and think about that for a second and then say to yourself “Oh…right”. (I love that moment.) When you’re able to clearly communicate your message, the customer can quickly visualize how your product or service fits their needs. Great communication is a beautiful thing. Many of you are familiar with my favorite George Bernard Shaw quote “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has occurred.”
Do you really want to spend your (valuable) time fumbling with your message, trying to get someone to understand what you do or what you’re selling? Again, as some of you have heard me say “illusion is expensive”. To avoid it, we need to be able to communicate, in a focused way, on what we do. So, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What am I really selling?
2. Who is my ideal customer (Don’t say “anybody who…” – that’s not focused)
3. Why buy this from me?
Once you’ve worked through these questions, start putting your message together. If you have really focused on your product or service, you’ll find the message is going to be clear and concise (no illusions).
Back to our original question “Where’s my money?” Is it in the niche or in the focus? Obviously you can find it in both. You just need to examine your business, your products or services, and decide which approach works best for you. Urban legend has it that, in response to the question, “why did you rob banks?” Willie Sutton replied “Because that’s where the money is”. So, ask yourself “where’s my money?”