Becoming a Niche: Being Small has Big Payoffs

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Let’s face it – we’re living in a more interconnected world each day. While this is fantastic for increases in exchanging of ideas, experiences and learning, there is a dark side.

I’ve often said life is about tradeoffs: Buying a bigger, more comfortable house and paying more for it, vs. buying a smaller, less expensive, cramped house that leaves you fighting amongst others for space; Taking your bike to work to save on gas and getting caught in the rain only to be miserable and cold the entire ride home; Getting lunch out of the vending machine at work to save time only to get a stomach ache later vs. having a delicious 7-Layer Burrito from Taco Bell. No matter the situation, you will end up miserable. Unless you got the 7-Layer Burrito, which is sure to give you complete happiness.

So now you’re probably thinking “Ok, where is this burrito-loving, Negative Nancy going with all of this?” Chill man! I’m coming up on a point here.

The tradeoff with business is trying to be everything to everyone. There comes a point where you need to say NO to a market. While it was much easier back in the 1960′s to be a jack of all trades type of business, this day in age is much different. Back then, you may have had the only business in town, which gave your customer base few to no options. Today, with global sourcing ability to be had within a couple clicks, you’ve got a completely different landscape for commerce.

As the world gets more and more interconnected, the lines are getting more and more blurry. This is great for consumers. It gives people more options than they ever imagined. Because of all the options, the market becomes inundated, and suddenly a product drops in price to a faction of the cost it may have been to manufacture even a year ago. This is also great for a consumer. But where does that leave business?

You’d think that businesses would have to cut costs so much to stay competitive it would be hard for them to even afford employees. And as we saw from the economic downturn a few years ago, where EVERYTHING fell out, businesses are stretched to the max to maintain that ever-shrinking margin.

Fortunately for many industries, advancements in technology have countered the competition some. Those not upgrading technology fall in the abyss and disappear into history. But the best businesses find ways to focus.

Focus? Like the car, you ask? Actually yeah – the Ford Focus is a great example. The Ford Focus was a car that consolidated a few other regional models like the Escort and Festiva so they could produce one model for the global market. This probably isn’t the best example, but I used it anyway because the name fit for this lovely expository. Now that I think of it, this example actually opposes of the point I am trying to make. Scratch that. Moving on…

Focusing into niche businesses. We’ve seen it already – as competition for the broad audience becomes harder and harder, the products also get more and more watered down because they NEED to appeal to everybody. This leaves the door wide open for businesses that want to became the absolute best at a certain style of product.

And that is just the beginning. Once we have niche products, then we’ll get even more and more niche style niche products, as consumers set course for something that is ever more unique and fits their personal style like never before.

An example of this progression would be the skateboard. This used to be a niche product for urban dwellers. Today you can pick up a basic skateboard anywhere. As the dwellers become daredevils, the options have grown immensely. There used to be one style. Now we even have a sub-niche market – longboards. The buyers in this market are different and more unique.

And when you’re in that niche, you can make all decisions because you’re the market leader. You’ll define norms. You have the opportunity to create objects that are tailored for unique individuals.

This is how I think the future of business will be. Skills will be becoming more and more specialized to produce products for a super small segment of the market that buys.

Pictured Above: Another niche style product, Vurtego Pogo Sticks.

So what are the nuances that make your business unique and unlike any others? This is what you need to promote. Start honing your skills to fill these areas. Stop trying to say you do it all. Jack-of-all-trades-and-masters-of-none will find the way of the dodo bird. Focus, focus, focus on what you love to do, and the rest will become easy!

Feelin’ Emotions: How to Sell the Dream in 5 Steps

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Sometimes I wonder how many times people come into my office and they find me staring up into space. People must think “does this guy actually do anything?”

Well…. in fact, on the contrary – I’m doing something very important that not a lot of people consider doing while at work. Dreaming. A Mariah Carey song just came into my head… “You’ve got me feelin’ emotions… deeper than I’ve ever dreamed of”… Feel free to sing along with me…

Dreams are everything really. Everyone wants to live the “American Dream.” And it differs slightly for everyone. Sometimes it’s spending a weekend away with the family. Sometimes it’s enjoying a fishing trip with your kids. For some its starting their own company. These are all valid, very real, and also very important.

As much as you think your products features are so cool and therefore you think everyone else will think so as well, it’s not the best way to go about selling or marketing. That’s not what your customer wants to hear. Instead, think – how will a feature help them obtain their dream?

For sales and marketers, this is vital to consider. Here are a few tips to get you thinking and possibly to change the way your message is delivered.

1. Take Time for Daydreaming.

First and foremost: Visualize. Test your idea coming to life and people responding to it. What does it look like? What do people say about it? What kinds of questions do they have? Preparing yourself with mock answers helps you think more on your toes when questions arise in the future. Maybe you rehearse a sales call in your mind before dialing. You visualize telling a joke and everyone laughing hysterically when you reach the punchline.

2. Avoid the Features.

Yes, everyone likes getting a good product for a bargain price. They want to satisfy every item on their checklist. But what are you compared to your competition then? Rattling off the features doesn’t make the longest lasting, most fulfilling customers. It’s not even that fulfilling to the buyer at that point. People want to live their dream or know they are taking steps to achieve them.

3. Appeal to Emotions.

Sell with emotion. For marketing, paint the picture of perfect that your customer is so longing to hear. I was recently talking to a friend who was looking for signups to a web development clinic they are hosting. They liked mentioning the things they were going to talk about like software architectures and processes. But I asked how is that going to get someone to act, especially if they don’t know what any of that stuff is? Instead, I said, appeal to their emotions by saying: “Are you sick of the 9 to 5, punching the clock for 10 bucks an hour? Start living the good life of being the programmer and make 60-80k a year!” This could include imagery of people riding boats, at the beach, driving sports cars, etc.

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Believe it or not, people want to make decisions emotionally. It’s more fun for everyone. Which takes me to my third point…

4. Get to Know Your Audience’s Dreams.

Like I said earlier, everyone has a slightly different dream. If you can find out what that is, selling to the emotions becomes natural. Ask pointed questions to find out your customers dreams so you can have a custom tailored pitch sure to resonate with them.

5. Pre-plan Your Desired Action.

What is it that you are looking for? What is your dream? When you define it specifically, you can start making a plan to figure out the steps to get there. This is your dream plan. When you have it created you pretty much have a road map to achieving what it is that you’re after. You can also do this in your sales and marketing. Plan the course your customer will take when navigating through your website, and also through the questions they may have when discussing your product or service.

Appealing to emotions have big payoffs. Start by hitting up these 5 steps and maybe too, you’ll be living your dream sooner than you thought.