Publishing

Do You Lean Toward Niche Marketing?

Think too deeply about customer profiling and you’ll soon fall into niche marketing.

And the problem with niches is—–they’re not created equal.

Have you chosen a niche too small?

Reis and Trout inadvertently popularized niches in their extraordinary 1981 book, Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind. That book taught us to consider the strengths of our competitors and the “positions” they occupy in the customer’s mind before embarking on our own journeys of self-identification. But many who read Positioning saw it only as a treatise on niche marketing. They were wrong.

Chris Anderson openly celebrated niches in last year’s book, The Long Tail, which was likewise misunderstood.

Tragically, the seductive logic of niche marketing makes perfect sense even when it does not apply.

Here’s a classic example:

A dentist in a small town came to me for consultation. He no longer wanted to see 6 or 7 patients a day who required only a thousand dollars worth of dentistry apiece. He had chosen a niche and wanted me to create a marketing strategy whereby he would see only 1 or 2 patients a day who required 10 thousand to 30 thousand dollars worth of dentistry each. “And make sure that all of them have the money. Lots of people need that much dental work, but most of them don’t have the money.”

I fear he left disappointed. There just aren’t enough rich people with bad teeth in the average small town. My friend had chosen a niche too small.

Some of my clients serve larger populations that allow us to successfully target a niche. But when onlookers see this success and assume the same strategy will work in their own small towns, the niche-devil shows his horns.

Considering a niche? Do the math.

Be detached and objective. This isn’t a time for wishful thinking.

If your marketplace isn’t big enough for niche marketing, you can still embrace (1) positioning, and (2) persona-based ad writing, a technique that speaks to personality type and appeals to a significant percentage of readers even when those readers are randomly chosen.

Persona-based writing is built upon a customer’s preferred style of buying.

Niche marketing is built upon your own preferred style of selling.

Positioning is built around the strengths of your competitors.

Each of these is a decision-making technique, a perspective we bring to the creative process.

Persona-based writing is about your customer’s personality, not their demographic profile. To what personality types are your ads currently written?

Positioning is about the realities of the marketplace. Your competitors occupy positions in the mind of your customer. Do you recognize these positions, or are you navigating with your eyes closed?

Niche marketing is about specialization, focused inventories, narrow training, becoming the king of an available kingdom. But before you plop your heinie on the throne, be sure the kingdom you’ve selected has enough subjects to provide you the living you desire.

Advertising cannot create population.

Please don’t let anyone tell you that it can.

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