Ditch Shotgun Marketing and Dilution for Niche Marketing

Being a specialist in a cluttered marketplace can have a distinct advantage. You can clearly define your target customer and be visible to them when they need your services or products.

Why Niche Marketing Works

Niche marketing is nothing new, especially for small businesses. A perfect example is my friend who produces re-tread tires for trucks. Those are the only tires he handles — no cars, no commercial vans, just 18-wheelers. His tires are shipped all over the country to truck stops where drivers pick them up when they shred a tire on the highway.

It’s a very niche business, but it works because the niche is large enough that even though he isn’t the only one doing this there is enough business to go around.  I’m sure you can think of dozens of other examples of niche businesses that are successful because their niche is big enough and enduring enough.

Niche Marketing vs. Shotgun Marketing and Dilution

How many times have you been to a store and there seems to be no really connection between the products offered. Cowboy boots in this corner, dreamcatchers over here, books over there, welcome mats on this wall, beef jerky by the counter, cell phone cases by the door and of course greeting cards. Now impulse buying stores, like 7-Eleven, can get away with that because their main business is groceries or sometimes gasoline sales. But the store I just described to you is about a block away from where I live. I’ve been in there many times to try and figure out what it is they actually sell but I just can’t manage it. They have tried to become all things to all people in the hope of finding a customer base.

This is the opposite of niche marketing; it’s shotgun marketing. Firing off a little bit of everything in the hopes that something will stick. I’m guessing they started out with a vision, perhaps they were going to be a western store, or a greetings card store and for whatever reason that didn’t quite work out. Instead they started to add things, perhaps at the request of customers, perhaps just because they thought there would be a market for it.

This is often referred to as dilution, and it occurs when a business starts to offer products or services that don’t really match the core offering. Imagine if you will a business that offered oil changes for your car and also decided to offer carpet cleaning for your home – either they wouldn’t be trusted to do the oil change or the carpet cleaning properly. There is no connection between the two services or at least only the most tenuous of connections.

Identifying Your Niche

Identifying your niche is a foundation of your marketing planning. Yet some businesses seem to have skipped that step. They know that there is a demand for what they want to sell, possibly among their friends and family or even in their location, but they haven’t given the thought to the extent of the niche.

These businesses are often born out of an owner following a passion for something, which of course is a necessary ingredient in any small business, but on its own it is not enough. There has to be a level of thought given to the additional revenue streams that a small business can generate.

There’s no denying that niches are hard to find and even harder to carve out properly. But taking the time to research and identify the best niche for your business is well worth it.

How does your business reflect the niche you are in?

Image credit: jaylopez

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Simon Salt
Simon is CEO of IncSlingers, and is an author, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. His book on Social Location Marketing was published by QUE, a division of Pearson publications in February 2011. Simon has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web and others.

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