An interesting piece over in The Telegraph recently interviewed three small business owners who have been targeting extremely niche markets.
Doing so can be good. In this day and age, with social media at our fingertips and online shopping the norm for many, identifying and holding the attention of a niche market is possible.
The idea of joining a club is also replicable.
On the downside, you’re competing with so many other pulls on people’s attention your offering has to be neat and clear – with the benefit to ‘joining’ hopefully irresistible.
And, after all, by its very nature, only a limited number of potential customers will be remotely interested at all.
In The Telegraph three entrepreneurs compare experiences.
The first, Sallee Poinsette-Nash, started online magazine Tall Guides, and Facebook group #TeamTall. Her idea, says the piece, was ‘to unite and celebrate taller women’.
How to reach them?
‘We ran social media campaigns to find them’, says Sallee Poinsette-Nash, ‘and saw tall people tagging their tall friends and word spreading, which started out community’s growth.’
But you have to offer something people will value – she’s clear.
‘People only join a community if they feel that they will get something out of it,’ she told The Telegraph, ‘so delivering value must be your number one objective, otherwise they just won’t stay with you. You have to understand why and how they engage.’
And her formula seems to have worked, by this account.
‘Her success to date’, says the paper, ‘has proved that targeting a niche can generate both income and optimism among minority sectors’.
However, throw in an adverse image and the challenge may be even greater. That’s according to the next entrepreneur interviewed.
Richard Turnbull is Founder and Chief Executive of Utmost Me, selling nootropics supplements.
‘Nootropics – better known as “smart drugs” – are designed to improve brain health and cognitive function, particularly increased focus, memory and creativity’, explains The Telegraph, going on to say they’re big in the States but not yet so here.
‘We are also in the ‘super niche’ of natural nootropics, meaning that we only use natural ingredients’, the paper quotes Richard Turnbull.
‘Add to that the negative connotations of drugs and you’re looking at a hard product to sell, even if there’s niche demand’, says the piece.
He describes the challenges of getting traction.
‘We had to go out and educate people’, he says.
‘Eventually, this education stage helped us secure funding’.
The initial advertising stage was difficult though. They tried various digital platforms with varying response. ‘We were losing money with our advertising at the beginning,’ he says. ‘But we then found that we were getting a high re-order rate among those we had reached via Facebook.’
‘This gave the company the model that it needed to scale the business up to the next level’, says the piece. Richard Turnbull does offer one word of caution:
‘Don’t try to create something for which no one is looking’.
The third and final case study in the piece is Markus Stripf, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Spoon Guru.
This offers a ‘barcode-scanning app, which caters for those with specific dietary needs’. You scan in barcodes as you shop, and get a quick answer to what’s safe for you to eat.
‘The app has an inbuilt ingredient database and search engine,’ says The Telegraph, ‘both developed by qualified health professionals’.
They ‘use targeted digital marketing channels to engage people,’ says Markus Stripf. ‘We produce content for our blog and syndicate it across social channels, where it finds its intended audience. We also share updates in newsletters and on our website, and talk to users directly via the app itself.’
It has not found it too hard so far, which the piece puts down to ‘the lack of competition, and society-wide interest in wellbeing’.
‘Spoon Guru secured seed funding with relative ease,’ it says.
‘The biggest challenge so far’, it quotes Markus Stripf, ‘has been finding a solution to the crux of the problem: incomplete, unreliable and inaccurate product and recipe data. Now that we’ve overcome this, our service will be more attractive to more people’, he’s confident.
So what are the take-home lessons from these three accounts?
• A niche market can be a good one for a small business enterprise
• Perhaps avoid too niche though…
• And get your offering just right – or you’ll lose people