Be the life of the corner of the room of the party. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear
Photo courtesy of Nathan Rupert, Flickr
A business can attempt one of two things: to be all things to all people, or to find and serve a market niche.
The former requires scale. Big box stores, huge inventories, supply-chain management, constant growth and expansion, a franchise strategy.
To be all things to all people is necessarily to be aggressive. You must dominate multiple markets to survive, because your competition is legion.
Walmart is an example of this model. The stakes of an all-things-to-all-people strategy are extremely high, but so too are the potential rewards.
A niche strategy targets a small but focused market. The enthusiasm and loyalty of the customer, rather than a directive of constant growth and fierce competition, drives the business.
A niche business issues from an unusual or marginal interest. The box stores do not serve niches. The mantra of a mass-market business model is: Unless everyone wants it, we will not get it.
Often the niche business is started by a hobbyist, eccentric, specialist, or collector. He is driven by passion, and by a desire to serve and connect with the like-minded. Here, the mantra is: If you don’t fit in, don’t compete.
An all-things-to-all-people business strategy is capital intensive. It requires a marketing and advertising strategy, aggressive growth, and ruthless competition.
A niche strategy is passion intensive. It requires knowledge of the niche, and authenticity. You must love the niche, and you must care about the people who occupy it. You are not simply running a business, you are creating a community.
The big box store is the life of the party. She goes about the room, chatting up everyone in it. By the end of the night, she’s made a dozen new friends.
The niche business, meanwhile, spends the evening in the corner of the room, discussing Etruscan manuscripts.
In the niche, we form fewer bonds—but they are instant and powerful.
Your niche customers will find you. After all, it’s hard not to notice the one other person in the corner of the room
Let your passion, oddball and off-the-beaten-path as it is, guide you.
Find your people, and serve them.