Who’s On First? The Disappearing Niche!

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.

Bye-Bye Niche
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?


12 thoughts on “Who’s On First? The Disappearing Niche!

  1. First off, your short and sweet is my long. 🙂

    I believe you nailed it when you said its all about execution and not timing.

    It doesn’t matter if you are first, if you suck.
    If doesn’t matter if you are fast, if you suck.
    It doesn’t matter if your pretty, if you suck.

    You have to do it well, get results and build relationships. Amen!

    • Haha.. Yeah, my short is not the standard short but the message came through so I am happy for that! Can I market your comments as the abridged version, Laurinda? =oD

      Always love your comments! I should be guest blogging in the next couple of weeks.. I’ll need your support, partner!

  2. I need to check definition of “short” lol

    Good points Laurinda and Yogizilla. I think that niches will stay forever, there will be mainstream and niches. But, what’s interesting there will be fewer and fewer “the First One” – and that’s ok.

    Do you care if they are exclusive or the first in their field of focus?

    Do I care – I’m not sure if I pay that much attention to that but that passion (you mentioned about) is way much more important. If someone’s content can make me “want to think”.

    • LOL.. It’s short in Yomar terms, darn it! ;o)

      That’s pretty much what I’m saying: a niche is not exclusive.. It’s more fruitful to focus on the specific kind of customers we want to work with as that will be the beginning of a real, sustainable competitive edge.

      Basically, finding a niche is a good start but that shouldn’t be your “secret weapon”. 8)

  3. Yomar, aloha. While I enjoyed reading the post, your ending questions were profound in the way they tied it together. When I read:

    “Do you care if they are exclusive or the first in their field of focus?”

    I realized immediately that “No, I don’t” and oftentimes I have no idea if they were first in their niche.

    As far as:

    “What makes YOU pay attention to others and REALLY listen?”

    Yomar, this comes down to what I feel about the person as i am reading. By that I mean, do they believe what they are saying. To me, it is not what they say that it is so important rather it is do they believe what they say. When people are passionate, I listen to what they are saying.

    Your comments on “niches” are so well reasoned; they definitely got my attention.

    Best wishes for a terrific weekend. Aloha. Janet

    • Aloha, Janet!

      I’m glad you commented on that as I have been working hard to provide more compelling calls to action in my content.

      There’s really more I wanted to say but it seems everyone has been able to read between the lines, which is great! I’m not saying niches don’t exist nor am I suggesting they are pointless, but I do believe we could all rearrange how we treat niches.

      I agree completely about assessing one’s passion and convictions before taking in what they have to share. Admittedly, I sometimes give advice that I don’t always follow myself, not because I don’t believe in it but moreso because I get caught up in the daily hustle-and-bustle.

      That said, I definitely speak from the gut and try to be authentic and consistent in all I do.. Sometimes I discover there are better ways and that’s part of the fun. As I challenge my audience I, in turn, challenge myself. It’s a beautiful process!

      Have a fantastic weekend, Janet.. BTW, thanks for the love on Twitter and Klout. I’ve been rather unplugged as I recover from a nasty bug I caught but I’ll bounce back soon enough!

  4. What I think it really boils down to is developing your own brand. Your brand comes first and is the differentiator. Also, there is an importance to understanding your niches.

    I believe the reason someone is a leader is in their niche market is because their focus is on building their brand. Understanding your niche markets is only part of the branding process.

    It’s like self discovery. Who am I, why am I doing this, what am I doing, what motivates me, how do others see me, who is listening to me (< -this is your niche market)

    I don't personally think "niches markets are full of suck" , or are the real issue. Instead, I think its the lack of understanding it's place in branding.

    Good post, even if your "short and sweet" is my "long" …lol 🙂

      • Don’t worry about it. I’m sure if you Google “Yomar” or “Yogizilla”, you’ll find plenty of stuff that would bring my skills as a writer to question. It happens!

        I think there is a little more “elbow room” when it comes to blogs, forums, and comments. The grammar Nazis will have to get over it. ;o)

    • I agree about branding since that is a more sustainable competitive edge than your average niche. When I ask clients and colleagues about niches, their definition is usually off or they treat it like some sort of secret weapons.. That is what I am warning of. I like to look at the things that can differentiate us in new, exciting ways. Even branding is different nowadays.

      For example, there are folks that have made their own name into a powerful personal brand. Folks like Janet Callaway and Danny Brown are pretty well-known no matter where you go. They’re hardly in what most would call a “niche”, but they position their services in a manner that works. More importantly, they provide an authentic and consistent experience in all that they do. I think that’s much more important than jumping on something that is overlooked or not as “saturated”. 8)

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