July 2020 · 4 Min Read
You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it twice, you’ve heard it a billion times. The only way to separate you from your competitors is by having a niche. Let me tell you why that is utter nonsense.
A niche is a hollow area in a wall which has been made to hold a statue. A niche is a natural hollow part in a hill or cliff. A niche is also a specific area of marketing which has its own specific requirements, customers and products. You could for example be a supplier of wooden goods and decide to niche down to producing wooden toys. You are specialising, making you the expert in what you do. Sounds great, right? In a way, it is but not on its own.
Wooden toys are not that rare. They are not as common as they used to be, that’s for sure but they are definitely not rare. That’s why, just narrowing your product sets is not enough.
“Yeah, well, of course, that’s not enough Puck! Duh! You have to narrow down your audience too. Who are you making these wooden toys for exactly?”
That must be it, right? Let’s narrow down our audience so that we are selling wooden toys to parents with toddlers. Wooden toys for toddlers! Seems like a brilliant idea except there are quite a few companies doing that too. There are also quite a few companies selling wooden toys to other age groups. Maybe you could make wooden toys for 4 and a half year olds but that might be a little too niche, no?
Now, this is the bit of niching down, which really does have a large effect. Whether you’re selling wooden toys to toddlers, just wooden toys or just wooden goods, it’s important to understand what the true needs of your potential customer are. If you find a requirement that is missing, you can be the one company to fulfil that requirement. The great thing is that you’ll probably also narrow down your audience and tailor your product. At this point, your niche is not just a sector as is often advised, it’s a true differential but that’s still not quite enough.
Now, imagine you’ve done your market research and you’ve found a true need. You’ve realised that there is a massive gap in the market for wooden products that look, feel and act like metal. You’re the first person to create the perfect product that fulfils all of these requirements and you start conquering your corner of the market. The niche has worked! Until, that is, somebody else comes along and does the same thing. Of course, if you’ve patented your product, they can’t just copy you but there is no reason they can’t make something similar. Suddenly, there are two versions of your product in the market, then 5, 10 and so on and so on! We’re back to square 1. Unless…
Of course, what you sell matters. If somebody needs a wooden product that has the properties of metal, they’re unlikely to look up “the top ten shoe shops in Madrid” are they? Understanding and explaining the benefits of your product is really important. Yet, even if there are 50 products that all have the same features and cost exactly the same amount, a potential customer will still have a favourite place to buy. There will be a number of reasons for this but often, it comes down to how much they connect with your brand. What feelings do they have about you?
You’re right, you can’t but you can express your own and connect with those who think and feel the same way. When you’re able to show people why you’re in business in the first place, what makes you tick, what makes you get up every morning to do what you do, you’ll start to gain trust and respect from your potential buyers. If you’re more trusted than the next business, you’re more likely to get the sale, even if your products are exactly the same as your competitors. There is a lot that goes into building that trust and just telling people your WHY isn’t enough but understanding it and making it a key component in every business decision will help you build relationships with clients you’re yet to meet.
It can be but only if it aligns with why you are in business in the first place. You could form a product niche, a customer niche, a requirement niche or a mixture of them all but do it for the right reasons. Don’t niche because you think it makes you stand out from the crowd, it doesn’t. Niche if you think it will help you to focus and to achieve your purpose.
Relying on a niche to stand out is a bad idea but defining your brand is a great idea and it’s the best way to separate your business from the rest. [email protected] and ask us about a Brand Definition Workshop.
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