I am in the process of crafting a niche.
At first, crafting a niche was somewhat challenging. I’ve since been able to wrap my ahead around it.
The clearest articulation I could find during my research was the following quote about finding a niche, or, as Lynda elegantly states, crafting a niche.
“Many people talk about ‘finding’ a niche as if it were something under a rock or at the end of the rainbow, ready-made. That’s nonsense. Good niches don’t just fall into your lap; they must be carefully crafted. Smaller is bigger in business, and smaller is not all over the map; it’s highly focused.”
-Lynda Falkenstein, author of Nichecraft: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market and Make Customers Seek You Out.
I will build on the definition of crafting a niche as outlined in Lynda’s quote.
Crafting a niche is a complex process
Even with Lynda’s profound wisdom to reframe the process of finding a niche to be known as crafting a niche, it’s still difficult to understand
Fortunately, after a few days of research, I came up with a nifty comparison and story to help wrap my head around how I might start crafting a niche. Perhaps more importantly, I am able to use this analogy with my customers.
Crafting a niche is easily confused with targeting a demographic
There is an important distinction between targeting a demographic compared to crafting a niche market. If I were to target a demographic, I would say that my “niche” is something like:
While the above list contains specific segments of my larger audience, the items are not considered “niche” material. An attempt to target one of the segments listed above would be similar to an attempt at going after every possible customer in the world. The four items in the list are not specific enough. They also don’t necessarily focus on a problem – the list is more focused on demographic segmentation than it is on discovering the problem my customers are having difficulty solving.
Profitable niche markets focus on solving an unsolved problem
Another point to be made about the list above is that the items don’t focus on solving any specific problem. In fact, we don’t even know if those smaller populations even have a problem. There is a major difference between discovering a problem compared to grouping prospects into segments based on their demographic information.
The complex process of crafting a niche is easily illustrated by the story of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.
Facebook is an example of crafting a niche.
Facebook is all about crafting a niche
Facebook initially launched as a platform exclusive to Harvard students. It wasn’t long before Facebook scaled its model to other universities.
- Target market: college students
- Niche market: college students at Harvard University
A few years later, the world uses Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg went after the smaller niche market (Harvard students) within his larger market (all college students).
Mark had an empathetic understanding of what it’s like to be a Harvard Student. He was already known by his peers. His personal brand had been established.
Mark observed and analyzed the existing ecosystem.
Then, he noticed a gap. Something was missing.
Mark had a vision.
Facebook was born.
Let’s say Mark launched Facebook at a different college, instead of Harvard. Let’s say it was Rutgers. Mark has no connections, partners, or peers at Rutgers.
In this scenario, would Facebook have evolved into what it is today?
My contention is that Facebook continues to grow because Mark targeted the smallest audience that would lead to the greatest success with the least amount of effort: the like-minded individuals within his personal network.
Mark launched the project to serve the students in his college. This smaller group, the niche market, is comprised of passionate individuals with immense Harvard pride. Mark used this to his advantage.
The first version of Facebook only allowed new registrations from email addresses ending in harvard.edu. Mark presented his fellow Harvard students with an opportunity to join an exclusive “community”.
Mark did not launch the project assuming it would become a global company. He did not take a break from writing code to sit back in his computer chair to ponder about which college he should bring Facebook to first. He served the niche market in which he was a member.
Crafting a niche
Are you in the process of crafting a niche?
Reach out if you’d like to chat about crafting a niche, finding a niche, and anything in between.
Read more from this series: “Who is my customer?”