This one is going to be short and sweet.
I offer to you a challenge:
Consider your unique advantage and think, real hard, HOW unique is it? Do you even have a unique advantage or are you focusing on a niche to stay competitive or stand out?
You hear lots of talk about niche marketing and how it’s the “only” way to be competitive in a world of look-alike businesses and copycats. Well, I think niches are a load of crap. Focusing on them can kill your business in the long run.
Here’s why niches are full of suck…Who’s On First
Being first into a market does not guarantee success. Once your thing takes off, someone is bound to notice and want a piece of the pie. Lucky for you that your experience, persistence, and personal touch can make a big difference. Your belief and passion won’t hurt, either.
Look at Quora, Facebook, and Google. They were not the first nor are they necessarily the best, but they’re arguably the most popular in their respective markets.. They also started in a sort of niche, in their own regards.
The truth is in the metaphorical pudding.
While we’re on food analogies, realize that there is no secret sauce. Competitors can analyze your business and copy your recipe for success, but they are not guaranteed the same results nor can they clone the people behind your business (yes, I mentioned this before and I will again – it’s THAT important).
Don’t worry about if what you are doing has been done or will be copied. Your competitive edge resides in execution, not timing. The Internet has made it especially easy to enter crowded spaces and still differentiate yourself. Timing helps but it provides a temporary edge; niche marketing, as most define it, is not sustainable.
Niches get saturated and then they become mainstream. The businesses that survive adapt, often widening their scope, diversifying offerings, and implementing new ways to spread their brand. Their goal is to become a pervasive market presence so that other factors do not matter (as much).
Your goal should be the same: strive to become remarkable, not merely because you were a pioneer or offered the only Coke in the desert.
A niche is a fleeting thing. It’s not sustainable (yes, I repeated that as well). Don’t put all your eggs in one basket (hey, I’m a bit of a foodie so these cliches work for me). You need more than a hot trend, sub-market, or brand-new thing to attract the right people.
What Are You REALLY Selling?
If you’ve been through any worthwhile sales training, you may have heard this already. Nevertheless, it’s worth repeating:
What are you REALLY selling?
Before anything, we’re all selling ourselves, whether we’re in business for ourselves or not. People have to believe in what we have to offer to afford us their time. This applies in dating, job seeking, friendships.. Everything.
Beyond that, our products tell a story. Someone that buys a luxury car likely isn’t worrying about price or fuel economy. They buy into your story and, in turn, their car tells a story to others.
This sort of thing happens with every product. Convenience, rapport, accessibility, and other factors weigh more heavily than what we usually consider to be value or quality. To understand customers, separate yourself from your spectacular product. Then think about what makes you excited when you buy something.
Apply your findings accordingly. Duplicate success. Then we celebrate!
…But don’t take my word for it. Look around and you’ll see the most successful sales and marketing people tend to agree.
You Are Unique, Like Everyone Else
We’re all unique so differentiating ourselves is a toughie. When I follow others, what excites me is their passion, belief, and vision. We may be similar in these ways but everyone has something different enough to stand out.. Or not.
Shifting Our Focus
If you focus on anything, let it be the principles that help you project what drives you, what you believe in, and what you wish to accomplish. Together, we can bring real change or follow a pack, hoping they have a good direction. Niches are fine and dandy but, in the long run, there are other things that give us a real power of presence, that certain something that makes us stick out!
Redefining The Niche
Let’s look at the niche differently. It’s something you build upon. It helps you define a real need or create a need that you feel others can believe in. A niche, in itself, is a starting point and, as you evolve yourself and/or your business, you widen your scope and adapt. Thus, let’s look more at the sustainable competitive edge, our real unique advantage; that is, the things that make us really stick out, the stuff no one can take away from you.
Now, don’t get me wrong, evergreen content and products have their limitations. Everything runs out of steam at some point. The idea here is not to jump on trends or focus on magical solutions. I find that a little personal development goes much further than most of the the technical stuff we tend to get sucked into (yes, I do it too).
Let’s also not forget that you can always position your products better, regardless of whether you’re in a “niche” or not. Focusing on a few customers at a time and developing a strong referral network – now THERE’S an idea!
What makes YOU pay attention to others and REALLY listen? Do you care if they are exclusive or the first in their field of focus?