Software Marketing Resource Articles: Carve Out Your Niche By Dominating One

You wrote the code, now how do you sell it?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Carve Out Your Niche By Dominating One

I was recently interviewed by a print magazine about niche marketing. In it, I offered several tips and ideas on how to carve a niche in the marketplace. Here are a few of them:

1) Michel, what do you do? How do you do it?

If you know my personal story, you know how niche marketing played an important role in my career. (See another interview in which I discuss this, along with the strategies I used to propel my career, at

Long story short, I feared rejection immensely, which led to a reclusive childhood. I wanted to overcome my fears and decided to dive into the world of sales in order to fight them. Years passed and many failures ensued until I finally became the top producing salesperson in Canada for a Fortune 500 company.

How did I accomplish that? Since I hated prospecting, I found and developed more effective marketing strategies that caused high quality prospects to come to me instead of the other way around. I no longer had to prospect. I no longer had to be rejected. In short, I went from prospecting to positioning.

In other words, I decided to specialize in a specific niche -- even though my employer did not require it of me. I positioned myself as an expert in a specific area (for a specific target market). Essentially, even though I could sell everything to everyone from this employer, I decided to specialize in only one product line for one particular category of prospect.

As a result, I attracted pre-qualified prospects to my door.

People today are bombarded with information, commercials and competition. Prospecting online is not only difficult but also impossible, nowadays. Thus, you have to market in such a way that causes those kinds of people to come to your business or website, and not the other way around -- like a magnet.

Therefore, rather than prospect for clients you must position your business as unique in a particular category or industry, or for a specific audience or market. And by being unique, you will naturally become the leader. With all the competition out there, it is no longer possible to be better than the others. The goal, therefore, is to be different -- and not better.

2) What is niche marketing? Why is it important?

Today's world has become overcommunicated and hypercompetitive -- one huge blur of sameness, in my estimation. If you attempt to be too general or too wide in your approach, you will only dissipate among the blur. And people will not see any greater value in buying from you than in buying from the competition.

One of the greatest errors committed by most new businesses is that they fall into a trap: they try to be "all things to all people." And they do so because they are mislead by the notion that, by offering more (or by serving more people), they will generate more sales. That's understandable for the survival of any new business depends on the number of sales it makes.

Based on the law of averages, you will have to advertise quite heavily so to be in front of as many eyeballs as possible, all with the hope of attracting an adequate amount of prospects that will in turn translate into a certain number of sales.

Undeniably, this requires a gigantic advertising budget.

For most new and especially smaller businesses, this is quite a challenge if not impossible. Admittedly, it is true that, the greater your reach is, the greater the potential quantity of responses will be. But what about quality?

Would it matter if your business or website generates a large quantity of uninterested visitors that will simply never buy from you? Let's look at the Internet. If your online business targets everyone, then your marketing message (and that includes your website) must therefore be painted with broad brushstrokes as to appeal to everyone. And the challenge with such an approach is the fact that you will lose a large percentage of visitors.

They may fall into your target market, but visitors that leave your website do so because they likely feel left out or become uninterested fast. Others simply choose competitors that might provide them with greater perceived value. In other words, the broader you are in your appeal, the less relevant you will be to any and every individual visiting your site.

If your site sells everything, chances are that your audience will not perceive any greater value in shopping from you any greater than from anyone else. In fact, the only common denominator, with which they have to work, is price. If there are no other points of comparison, naturally the cheapest alternative wins.

Sales will increase dramatically if your site is centered on a specific theme, product, industry, people or outcome. A niche, in other words. Put in a different way, the more focused you are, the less you will need to produce a sufficient quantity of website visitors to produce similar results. (For more, visit )

3) How can someone find a good niche?

A good niche is one that: exists is easily identifiable is easily targetable. The most commonly asked question I receive from aspiring entrepreneurs is this: "What product should I sell?" (Or "what sells well on the Internet?") Quite frankly, everything sells (and can sell well) -- from pet food to travel packages -- in some way, especially online.

In fact, everything is being or can be sold, somehow, in some form or another. But that's not the problem. It's not what you sell -- it's to whom.

In other words, don't look first for a product to sell. Look for an easily targetable market with an easily identifiable need -- a need for a specific product, be it a good or service -- and provide them with that product. In order to achieve this, you need to be observant and listen to the needs of the marketplace. If people seem to be asking for a specific solution to a problem, obviously it is because a niche exists that has yet to be filled. Once you have found a niche, everything will flow from that point. In fact, if you follow this tactic you will constantly find products to sell.

Simply put, don't carve a niche. Rather, find one and fill it.

4) What are ways to become an expert in a particular niche?

If you offer a customary service or if your competition offers the same thing you do, catering to a niche helps to project an aura of uniqueness and superiority instantaneously by virtue of the fact that it doesn't appear as customary. Rather than copying your competition, you isolate yourself from them.

For instance, if you required brain surgery, would you choose a dentist? Would you choose a general, medical practitioner, even a general surgeon? Not really. You would probably choose a neurosurgeon. It's the same thing for other products. If you owned an imported car that needed new brakes, would you choose any general mechanic? Or would you choose one that not only specializes in brakes but also specializes in imported cars?

Expertise is in the eyes of the niche. Specialization is in itself a marketing process that, as a byproduct, generates the perception of expertise. It's amazingly effective in creating "top-of-mind" awareness among a specific target market.

For instance, an accountant specializing in car dealerships will acquire more clients than a general accountant will. An advertising salesperson specializing in home furnishing stores will sell more advertisements than a typical advertising agent will. A photographer specializing in weddings will get more bookings than a regular photographer will. Ad infinitum.

As more businesses get started, and the more inundated with marketing messages our society becomes, the less time, energy and money people will have to spend in choosing the companies with which they will do business. Thus, specialization helps to solve that problem by projecting an aura of expertise.

Take the mechanic, mentioned earlier. Rarely would you call a general mechanic an "expert mechanic," unless she has invested a considerable amount of resources in branding herself that way, or in educating herself deeply in the world of mechanics, backed by many, many years of experience. On the other hand, it would be easy to dub a mechanic -- even a new one -- that specializes in imported car brakes as an "expert mechanic."

Similarly, by finding and dominating a niche, you can become an expert by design -- not by default.

About the Author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill." See now!


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