Building a Niche

March 13, 2009

Today’s business world is beginning to reward those with a niche.

There are examples of this everywhere. Products and services that are designed for a very specific market are doing very well even in tough times. Lamborghini is having its best year. The Tesla Roadster is on backorder. But those things that are commodities, or are being turned into a commodity are worth and valued less and less particularly when money is tight. The Big 3 automakers who make average cars for average people (with a few exceptions of course) are in so much trouble they’re begging for money.

Service industries become a commodity when they take on any job that comes their way regardless of what it means or how it will impact their industry and business in the long run.

I think that’s a mistake.

According to wikipedia, a commodity is “anything for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market.”

Unless you are Amazon, or in years past Sears, and can take the entire long-tail under your purview, differentiation has to come from something other than an all things for all people mentality. You need to specialize. You need a niche to dominate. You need to be the best in the world, or more to the point, the best in the world of those in your market.

Instead of tackling anything that comes your way, choose an aspect of your industry and focus all of your efforts here. Become an expert in your market. Participate in forums and online communities involved in these areas. Help who you can without trying to sell your services. Start a blog and talk about your ideas and thoughts on the topic and pull in pages and articles your market would find useful. Start a newsletter for your audience and develop a permission based contact list of people who want to hear from you.

It might take time and it will certainly take effort but eventually your market will see you as an expert and will seek you out for your thoughts and your help.

Is it a lot of work? Yeah, of course it is, but it’s worth it in the long run.