I have a dear friend whose personal hallmark is, “I’m not for everyone.” She typically makes the statement right up front as a disclaimer when she meets new people. And she is right.
She is a strange mix of business savvy sales person, think Ivonka Trump, combined with the unplugged and raw style of comedian Kathy Griffin. Enthusiastic, demanding, driven yet funny, quirky and humble – people either love her or run for cover when she enters a room. This fact doesn’t bother her… life is too short to try to please people with whom you share little or no common vision or interest.
She is not trying to force relationships or pretend to be something she is not just to earn someone’s business or call someone a friend. She is more of a niche marketer by nature, focused on creating highly productive relationships with other like-minded individuals.
And in this manner my friend has created quite a loyal following of friends and colleagues who worship the ground that she walks on. I think there are lessons to be learned from her on the value of niche marketing:
Be true to your brand. Know who you are and what you stand for and don’t compromise. People will question the credibility of the offering if the sales pitch changes for every new opportunity that comes along.
Don’t try to be all things to all people. You will fail miserably. No one thing can be the cure all. I can’t tell you how often we see companies lose market momentum because their resources are distracted chasing after some dead end custom project for a one-off customer.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Generic “one-size-fits-all” messaging doesn’t sell high priced enterprise software and services. If you have limited resources (as is the case with most early stage companies), it is unrealistic to think you can effectively market to multiple verticals. Hint… if all of your industry vertical solution pages contain the same messaging, you may benefit from choosing a niche.
The 80/20 Rule. If eighty percent of the output comes from twenty percent of the input, we can all benefit by defining and targeting the twenty percent of the market that can bring us the most value.
And finally… Don’t be afraid of commitment. So many companies are afraid to choose a target market because they may choose the wrong one. But like the eternal bachelor, by not choosing they effectively alienate all the contestants through a lack of commitment to a single focus.