Niching Down Into A Better Market

Today is the end of Day Four of the most epic house move ever (at least that’s what it feels like for me).  We started the efforts on Friday and now we’re at the close of play on Monday evening (it’s 10:30pm as I write this) and I stopped working about an hour ago.

Without going into all the gory details, here are some high-level things:

– We’ve taken over one metric tonne of garbage to the dump.  For those of you in the US, that’s 2200lbs of garbage.  That’s not including the garbage guy we had come by to take a three seater sofa, a coffee table and 15 additional bags of household garbage;

– Since Friday, we’ve put in about 50 hours of work packing, moving, unpacking, etc.  During this time we ferried over 100 boxes of stuff, six dining chairs, clothes for three people, a dog cage and a variety of other things;

– Our new place is about 500m (~500 yards) from our previous place and by our count, I made the trip 30 times over the past four days.  I burned 15L (about 5 gallons) of fuel just making that tiny trip back and forth;

– Despite moving so much ourselves, we still had removalists come through today for five hours.  That set us back about $650 and they only really took the big stuff.  We probably could have gotten away with four hours but our new place has some access “challenges” with tight walkways and a weird internal staircase;

– The weirdest thing happened today, our metal bed frame wouldn’t fit up the staircase.  This was 1pm and we were looking at having to buy a whole new bed.  Instead, I went on Airtasker, advertised for a handyman to come and cut it in half.  Within an hour a local handyman replied, took the job and turned up.  He discovered why I’m an unhandy man because my idea of cutting the metal frame would have meant the bed collapsing in the middle.  He managed to cut the frame and do some serious reinforcements saying that I could now easily jump on the bed without breaking it.  The internet and services like Airtasker are so awesome – cost me $75;

– The handyman also took out a kitchen cabinet that was too low and preventing me from putting my fridge in the right spot – he charged me an extra $25.  Have I said how great Airtasker is?  He also did it in a non-destructive and fully labelled way so we can put it back when we leave; and,

– The downside, I still have no internet.  Our Telco can’t seem to make the service work because they are muppets.  I really have no more to say about that.

I was hoping to get back to normalcy tomorrow, but I think I have one more half day of this insanity.  The cleaners are going through the previous house and finally on Thursday I hand it back and we dig ourselves out of a mountain of boxes.  Ideally, we’ll have an internet connection by then, but I’m not holding my breath.

Now, enough about me… On with the show.

In amongst the madness of moving today, I spoke to a coaching client of mine who has built a great little business for herself over the past two years.  When I first started working with her, she was a stay at home mum with pre-schoolers who was considering going back to work to help make ends meet.  She had an idea and it was a good one, but I told her flatly that she had no idea how much work was in front of her.

But she committed to the work and every spare second where she wasn’t serving as mother and wife went into her business.  She’s an execution machine with an unbelievable engine – she just puts the effort in non-stop.

What I also liked about her was that she wasn’t tainted by all of the garbage marketing gurus out there and the nonsense they espouse.  We knew each other through mutual friends, we met for coffee occasionally and when she became a coaching client, the one rule her husband made for her was that we had to do it in person on a weekend so she could have a break from the kids and use her brain.

The interesting work we did together was in getting her to target the right market.  Her product started life as an info product, but it was obvious that it could branch out into a series of physical products and a great continuity program.  She kind of knew this but didn’t really understand “how” or to be honest, that it’s as easy to do as it actually is.

None of that concerned me, my problem was always that she just didn’t seem to think about who her best audience was.  She went very broad and the logic being that the product was well suited to both men and women.  And truthfully, in its initial incarnation it was, but it was too generic, it didn’t resonate with anyone.

I kept insisting that she target women more and focus on delivering the product to that audience.  She was sceptical because, in her niche, women make up a tiny percent of the potential market – probably less than 10% of the buyers are women.

Then she had a breakthrough.  That small group of women were not only underserved, the products themselves didn’t really speak to them.  The info products in that space were generic tripe and the associated physical products were very masculine in nature.  Women were able to buy average info products and were really locked out of the physical product side of the market.

She completely reworked her info product to be totally focused on women.  Even more interestingly, she segmented her system into three age categories: 18-30, 30-45 and 45 and onwards.  She tweaked the info products to suit those age groups and their unique lifestyle situations.

Did I mention she did this in two weeks?

I was stunned.  She completely reworked her product and had it ready to go in less than two weeks – she said she just had the inspiration so she worked harder.  Like I said, her work ethic is world class.

Within a few weeks, it was obvious that she’d cracked it.  Her business doubled in size in six weeks and it doubled again in four weeks.  From the moment she’d made that change to when she was making five figures per month took eight weeks.

You could use the cliche of saying that she just “niched down” but that would be missing the point entirely.  She found the wealthiest subsegment of an entire market that had been entirely underserviced.  She went down into a better market.  From what we know about the market she operates in, her competitors make a fraction of what she does servicing the male contingent which makes up about 90% of the total market.  Men seemingly won’t pay for this information, but women love it tailored for them.

About six months ago, she made a small foray into creating physical products for her audience after she’d bedded in her info product side.  The thing with the physical products is that it will increase her customer lifetime value exponentially – it has a very, very high continuity take-up rate.

In our last coaching session (before this horrific move started) she told me she wanted to break the rules again.  She was looking at expanding her business to cater for men more specifically.  It’s very early days, but she wants to take her strategy that she used to breakthrough with women and apply that same concept targeting men.

Again, oddly, that’s the biggest portion of her potential audience, but it would appear that despite plenty of people selling to that market, nobody is really serving them.  She’s going to niche down into yet another potentially bigger and better market.

What she’s done with niching down is to move away from what the marketing circus clowns teach.  They tell you that you can’t be a “dog trainer” that you need to niche down and become a trainer for cocker spaniels.  In fact, that may be too generic, you need to niche down more into three-legged cocker spaniels named Rusty and become the best at serving those people.

That’s just silly advice and it floats around like turds in the bowl all the time.

When you niche down, you want to go into a better market, not just one with weaker competition (or none at all).  You want to be able to target a segment of the market that wants what you offer and for whom you can deliver a better result or product.

The mistake that people make is they either get too granular or they run away from competition.  With what my coaching student has done, she’s approached her potential audience with something better at a crowd more willing to spend.

I’m not going to take much credit for this one, she’s a great coaching client and truthfully the perfect “Casual Marketer”.  She’s got a young family, she has a stellar idea, she’s more than willing to put in the hard work and when she’s given advice she executes on it every single time even when she doesn’t understand it or thinks it’s wrong.  It’s been an honour and a pleasure to watch someone take an idea and turn it into what will be this year a seven-figure business.

You can do it too, you just need to focus and you have to find your better audience!

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