The Idea Dude

CONNECTING THE DOTS ONE AT A TIME

Saturday, November 10, 2007

In a blink of an eye, I finally saw the light

It's amazing...In a blink of an eye, I finally saw the light goes the Aerosmith song.

I'm talking about the client you couldn't change his mind for 6 months and one morning, you wake up and he's actually where you wanted him to be. Why does it take so long? Carl Sagan used to use the analogy about 2D people in a 3D world. It's not that they're stupid but you're presenting a dimension that is so alien to them that they just can't see it no matter how hard they try.

It's a situation that often happens when you try to get your customer to focus on a niche. Like a kid given an option to put sprinkles, chocolate chips, maple syrup or hot fudge on his ice cream cone, your customer wants it all. They want to go global, reach all markets so no money is left on the table.

There is a great Fast Company article on niche marketing. Nick Rice tells us that the average American is bombarded with an estimated +3000 advertising and branded message each day. So how do you cut through the clutter.

To try and market to everyone makes you part of the noise.

To take the risk and market to a niche is a much better strategy. However it is one many companies are reluctant to take because the risk is ignoring the other market opportunities. We want full global coverage but your message becomes bland and impersonal. Some of the most successful businesses focus on one niche and they serve it with a passion and with excellence bar none. The result?

Loyal and repeat customers that delight in spreading the word.

To be viral, you have to delight the recipient, so much so they can't wait to spread the word. And he or she is more likely to be delighted if your message was personal and met a specific need. It's about context, relatedness and ONE value point.

You probably remember that wonderful evening at an expensive French restaurant but do you remember what you had at that cheap buffet that served everything?

Niche marketing tells us...

  • You can't make everyone happy, all of the time.
  • You can make a few people happy all of the time.
  • You shouldn't try and play the entire market at once.
  • If you attack more than one niche at a time, it isn't a niche.
  • Pick a niche and serve it better than anyone else.
  • That niche will become your reference point of excellence if you decide to try other niches.


But what if you're wrong, you could blow all your money on a niche that proves to be unprofitable. Here's where the consultant's impatience and the customer's stubbornness can be helpful to both parties.

  • Listen to your customer and understand his fears. Unless you do so, you won't break down any walls in a hurry.
  • Instead of forcing him to choose a niche and risking his business and your reputation, let him create a list of 3 or 4 (preferable no more) potential niche opportunities.
  • Monitor each one closely and keep a constraint on cost, effort and time spent on each one. One will invariable emerge as better than the others.
  • Don't assume you or your client knows which one it will be.
  • Choose a niche where all the employees can be raving fans themselves.


It WILL be amazing and in a blink of eye, they WILL see the light. It is a combination of patience, exploration and discovery.

Business is a journey, not an event nor is it a destination

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