There’s a great quote from a mediocre movie (Man of Steel, 2013). In the movie, a young Clark Kent has a bit of a freakout about his power. His mom, Martha Kent, comes to help get him out of the janitor’s closet where he’s locked himself in.
“The world’s too big, Mom.”
“Then make it smaller.”
For the last five years, when people have told me to “niche down” my business and get really really specific about what I do or who I serve, I’ve thought to myself, “Bad advice. I don’t want to niche myself into a corner.”
I wanted to reach the maximum audience. To be seen by millions, to maximize my return on investment, to have a huge impact.
And so I worked hard to average it out, to be a generalist, to please everyone and anyone.
You can see the problem.
By seeking to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone. And if you’re not the irreplaceable, essential, one-of-a-kind solution, you never get a chance to truly impact your market.
The solution is simple but counterintuitive: Niche even smaller.
Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This likely goes against everything your brain wants to believe about making yourself available to the masses and “fitting in.” But in fact, it’s the easiest way to make a difference.
“Fitting in” is out.
When you have your eyes firmly focused on becoming the most relevant option to a highly specific audience, you will exponentially increase your chances at having the impact you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your results will all get better.
And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.
It’s easy to talk about in theory, but difficult to put into practice. Just about every business or brand you care about, just about every organization that matters to you – this is how they got there.
2019: New Advice. Niche even smaller.
The bottom line, people are tired of fitting in. They want to go where they belong.
Aim at the specific people you want to reach and serve. Build your customer acquisition and retention strategies around ensuring that specific people know that you understand them.
You serve more than one crowd. No doubt about it. And getting someone to pay attention to even one message is a challenge, I know. But this must become your work if you want to move beyond survival.
As you draft your plans for reaching people to talk about your awesome product or service, and you answer the question, “Who is this for, anyway?” Whenever the answer comes back as “everyone,” start over. You’re wrong. Even if your product/service can be used by everyone, go back to the drawing board and make sure it resonates with the people you most want to serve.
What It All Means to You
The temptation might be to just wiggle your eyebrows and say, “Oh, well that’s an interesting article Michael sent me” and then just go about your day. I get it. You might not see the immediate connection between what I’ve shared and what YOU need to do in your business. I’ll help:
- Are you being too vague and not specific enough in who you serve?
- Are you clear and specific about the ONE audience you love helping?
- Can you easily state the ONE promise you can happily deliver on?
- How’s your conviction about the ONE result you get for your clients?
- Does HOW you sell what you sell need to change?
- Does WHERE you sell what you sell have to change?
- Do you need to pick a few very specific communities and signal them?
- Where are you reaching out to try and earn people’s attention?
The information I’m sharing here, while novel, all points to changes in the marketplace in 2019. It might merit some thinking, some planning, and some action.