Defining your niche

02. November 2010 All, Career 1

Let me tell you a story about three little kids who wanted to sell lemonade.

The first kid set up his lemonade stand on the busiest street corner in town and made a large sign that said “Lemonade – 5 cents”. He made 20 sales that day, totaling $1

The second kid set up his lemonade stand on his own street and made a large sign that said “Fresh Lemonade – $1.00”. He made 10 sales that day, totaling $10

The last kid set up his lemonade stand outside a gym and made a large sign that said “Power drink – $5.00”. He made 100 sales that day and made enough to retire until kindergarten.

All three kids made the exact same lemonade. They all went to the store and bought the same lemons and used the same recipe and sold the same lemonade in the same cups.

However, they all marketed their products differently and the one who put thought into who and how he was targeting won in the end. Despite his highest prices, he had the highest sales because he created the greatest demand.

Below is part one of a larger piece on Developing a Product Offering.

I believe that developing and defining your product offering is one of most important things you can do for your business. Admittedly, I have been putting off writing about this because of how big this topic is. When I go into my rabbit hole, sometimes I don’t come out for hours. So for both your sanity and mine, I will break this very important topic up into chunks. I hate that I am not giving you the gratification of all of the content at once, but I prefer to give you a better quality finished product later than a lower quality one now.

Today let’s talk about defining your niche.


Think about your niche.

Let’s say that you are a wedding photographer. Is this what it looks like?

If so, we have some work to do. But it’s ok, you’ve come to the right place.

Think about how many types of media a bride is inundated with… all with the same messaging over and over again: “have your dream wedding”, “have the wedding you’ve always wanted”, “make your special day one you’ll never forget”, blah blah blah. As a recent bride who just got married this year, let me tell you, it gets played out very quickly. So much so that I actually caught myself x-ing out one silly little wedding ad on the side of my Facebook page after another, over and over. I got some sick pleasure from doing so, thinking, “Facebook, you don’t know nothin’ about this!” Weird right?

Not really. Brides, like all other consumers, do not want to feel like they are categorized into some huge bucket of a type of customer who can be advertised to with super-generic, unspecific advertisements. Brides, like all consumers, want to feel special. There is no faster way to make a bride feel un-special than by feeding them boring, generic messaging.

Sometimes your niche idea comes to you right away. You may have an epiphany one day and decide you want to devote your life to helping little old Chinese grandmas who practice Tai Chi in the park on Saturday mornings. Other times, it comes to you through trial, error and experience. Be open to both, but regardless of how you do it, you must define your niche – as specifically as possible without being overly narrow.

Now here is an example of a much better, more well thought out niche:

In the example above, you may have stumbled across the idea for this niche after photographing a wedding for one dental hygienist and then finding yourself with a few professional referrals thereafter.

You size the opportunity: After doing some research, you learn that there are 500 dental practices in the North Jersey area. On average, each dental practice has about 10 employees per office, of which 2 are engaged/single females. You may learn that many single female dental professionals are in the 30-35 age range because of the amount of schooling involved with mastering their profession before they can begin their career. Therefore upon further research, you learn that there are about 50 prospects that are either planning or thinking about planning their weddings in the near future.

You may say, “this is a super-narrow niche”. I would say, I agree with you to an extent. I am being somewhat overly obvious for the purposes of demonstration.

I would also say that without defining a specific, target clientele, you will never successfully build a product that speaks to anyone. Instead, you may run the risk of building one that speaks to no one.

Let me explain the benefits of being very specific.

1. You can become an expert about your niche.
You will know more about the young North Jersey-an dental professional than anyone else who might dare to seek their business. Nobody will be able to come near how well you provide for your market.

2. You will understand their general buying trends and preferences.
You may learn that dental hygienists tend to gravitate toward clean, crisp and sanitary looking aesthetics.
You may learn that female dentists dress conservatively when not at work and shop at stores such as Banana Republic and J.Crew.
You may learn that these clients lean toward more contemporary versus traditional styles
The list goes on.

3. You will learn about their buying patterns relevant to your specific service.
You may learn that these clients tend to use wedding planners due to the demanding nature of their schedules and due to the fact that many of these more technical/left-side-of-the-brain professionals would rather seek help from a more creative expert
You may learn that there are “busy” times in the dental profession such as the beginning of the year when people renew their insurances or at the end of the year to use their annual dental visit allowances before the end of the calendar year. Therefore, dental professionals have a greater tendency to avoid winter weddings than most.

4. You will learn about their psychology of spending money
You may learn that these clients prefer expensive high quality goods to frugal low quality ones
You may learn that these clients value certain perks such as the inclusion of albums and galleries over others such as unlimited coverage time
You may learn that these clients hate wasting time and shopping around. They will make quick decisions once a well-valued option is presented

5. You will learn the best channels for getting in front of these consumers
Postcards and internet versus direct mail and magazines?

Ultimately, you will know what these clients are looking for when shopping for your particular product… and know how to answer their need with a service that seems so targeted, it will feel like it was created for them.

When the client says “I didn’t even know someone like you existed out there”, you know you’ve wonderfully and perfectly succeeded.

Let me leave you with one last thought. If you are concerned about missing out on opportunity by excluding other markets… remember that it is far better to come across as special and spectacular to a small group of people than to come across as generic and average to a large group.

In this case, be the big fish in the small pond, it will pay off for you in the end.

1 thought on “Defining your niche”

  • 1
    feuza on November 7, 2010

    You are so right on, thanks to Ahmet for sharing your rad blog

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