Greg is an online and offline marketing specialist and a member of the Dunsborough Chamber of Commerce committee.
The recent addition of a new puppy to the Milner household here in Dunsborough has once again highlighted for me the immense power of the riches to be found in niche markets.
And it makes me wonder why so many business owners ignore this, and try to be all things to all people.
For the record, his name is Digby, after my late father. He’s a new breed called an Australian Cobber Dog, bred in Margaret River.
If you’re a dog person, you’ll know that a puppy is blissfully unaware of its ability to induce the departure of reason from the minds of its masters.
Thus, my stern resolve to be a strict master dissolved on Day 1. Yes, he can live inside, because he doesn’t shed. Okay, he can go to the toilet on my newly-mown lawn. And I suppose he can ride in your Mercedes, all salty and sandy from a run on the beach.
But he is absolutely, positively, definitely NOT going to sleep on our bed.
You also learn quickly that it is ill-advised to be too emotionally attached to things like shoes. Or soft furnishings. Or your garden sprinklers. Even our wooden wine rack bears the scars of needle-sharp puppy teeth.
By far the most significant change in our household, however, has been our complete loss of reason when it comes to buying “things for Digby.”
On our frequent visits to pet supplies retailers, all consideration of pricing comparisons and value judgements is left behind at the door.
That fancy new bark control collar? A snip at just $190. No matter that it cost $4.50 to produce.
Every week, a new chew toy seems to arrive in the house. No matter that he already has a basket full of chew toys. And much prefers to chew the basket.
Why have only one monogrammed food bowl for inside the house, when you can have another one for outside as well?
And don’t get me started on the contents of said food bowls. Entire supermarkets are dedicated to a dazzling array of canine sustenance, all of it declaring – on packaging designed specifically to appeal to humans, not dogs – that it’s scientifically formulated by veterinarians to put a spring in the step of every pooch.
Did I mention vets?
The average dog owner might well quibble over the price of a bus ticket, or haggle with a car salesman till both are blue in the face.
But when it comes to the family hound, a qualified vet can charge whatever she likes – think of a number, and double it – and the dog owner will meekly, nay eagerly, hand over his credit card without so much as a whimper. And gushingly thank the animal doctor for being so kind as to take his money.
Pet owners are a lush, rich, inch-wide-but-mile-deep niche market. A bottomless pit of money.
Golfers are the same. So are car enthusiasts. Cyclists? No great powers of observation are required to notice that at any city café on a Saturday morning, ALL cyclists are kitted out in the latest lycra fashions, their $5,000 machines adorned with every electronic device ever invented.
I like fishing. So much so that I have been known to walk into a tackle shop intent on buying nothing but a box of hooks, and walk out $600 poorer, armed with a bag of colourful new lures clearly designed to attract fishermen, rather than their prey.
There are niche markets everywhere, hidden in plain sight.
Famously, one of my earliest and most successful marketing students created a booming business after a coaching call with me in which she complained bitterly about how she was exhausted working 60 hours a week doing massages at her small inner-city salon.
I asked her about her typical client. Turns out more than half of them were…pregnant women!
Aha, I said. Why not just concentrate on marketing yourself to expectant mothers?
Within a month, her new business Yummy Mummy Pregnancy Day Spa was doing a roaring trade, and she was ‘off the tools’ completely.
Enthusiasts, hobbyists, collectors, professional athletes, sports fans, pet owners, photographers…the list of niche markets is saturated with people who will spend whatever it takes to be ‘at the top of their game.’
A city hair salon specialising in and marketing to men and women with dreadlocks? Certainly sounds a better and more profitable proposition than simply competing me-too-style with every other hair salon on the block.
Most businesses are ‘generalists’, forever trying to appeal to the masses. And by doing so, they become indistinguishable from their competitors, left with little more than price to differentiate themselves.
Take the time to critically and forensically examine your clients. Look for commonalities. Do a sizeable number belong to a particular group? If so, find ways to refine your message so that it appeals to more of that group.
There are immense riches in niches. It’s worth the effort to identify and exploit them.
Want some (free) help identifying your ideal niche market?
Members can book a free marketing strategy session with Greg…