by Tony Vidler
The concept of niche marketing causes a lot of confusion, so I thought I’d add to the confusion by adding in “nest marketing” at the same time as challenging the view that professionals should find “A” niche.
The easiest way for me to explain the difference between niche marketing and nest marketing is this way:
A niche market would be (for example) “people who work as extra’s in the movies”.
A marketing nest would be (for example) “everyone who works for the same movie production company”
A niche is a target market of potential clients who have a lot of commonality. Similar circumstances, issues, needs, income and career situations….and as such when you understand quite a few of them there is a very good chance that you understand pretty much all of them. If you can deliver superb service or product that matches the niche’s needs, then then there is a very good chance of you dominating that niche because of both your suitability and your perpetual presence. Word of mouth in the niche becomes your greatest marketing tool, because fundamentally they have common needs which you have been proven to be able to solve.
A “nest” on the other hand is as the name suggests: a place where there is a lot of folk who spend a lot of time hanging out together. It is a community, as opposed to a demographic. The common bond is often the same employer, or work premises. Perhaps a community group or sports club. There is a common bond, but the individuals who share this bond are many and varied in their personal situations and needs, and typically the bond is not shared demographics.
The two concepts are not mutually exclusive of course: you can do both. But which is better when it comes down to applying your limited time and marketing resources?
The “nest” is best. If you can open up the opportunity that is.
The nest is best in the short term, and that is a hands down winner in my experience. BUT…the niche marketing pays off better over the long term. So we are actually talking about a short term and a long term game plan here, so why not have both?
Niche marketing presents a great opportunity to leverage knowledge and expertise and build a strong reputation for being the “go to” person for particular problems, situations or types of clients. If done well there is plenty of scope to have multiple niches too of course, but one does have to be careful with positioning when considering the overall brand marketing and online presence. The smart play in niche marketing is to have a number of niches where there is a bit of overlap. Why bet everything on just one sector? If your niche for example was self-employed engineering consultants living in your region and the region next door, there is a very good chance that self-employed architects have similar issues and needs, and while separate enough to be a distinctly different audience, they are near enough in attributes and professional circles of influence that by serving both niches you are able to use both niches as potential means of establishing a further presence in the other. They are complementary, and working one can help with working the other.
Nest marketing is a fabulous opportunity to acquire clients in some sort of volume, and reasonably quickly. Working all of the opportunities presented via a strong introduction or relationship should be a focus for any professional given the chance to do so. However, this is an opportunity which is frequently overlooked in my experience.
Having established a strong relationship and presence with a company or community it seems that often the professional deals with the obvious opportunities, but then doesn’t look to uncover all of the other potential prospects within the same group. At the very least when given the chance to position as THE professional one should be ensuring that you capture every single possible prospect from within that nest and ensuring that they are brought into your ongoing engagement marketing strategy. This should be a minimum objective, as even if a number of prospects turn out not to be genuine prospects for your services they are in fact all part of the community where you want to be known as THE professional. In other words, every single member of that community or company is to a degree an “influencer”. Every single one of them has an ability to influence the perceptions of others within that community or company, and every single one of them has an ability to be a referrer of other (and perhaps more ideal) prospects.
There is no doubt that niche marketing done well helps to establish reputation and positioning for any professional, and it should be part of the marketing strategy. It helps ensure long term success. Nest marketing typically presents more short term opportunities, which can help accelerate both the growth of the practice and the reputation and influence of the professional.
Strategically, niche marketing pays off. But tactically, nest is best.