Niche is pronounced “neesh,” by the way, and not ‘nitch’, which sounds like something unwanted that you have dug out of yourself. As in, “I came back from the jungle with a nitch, and you don’t want to know where I found it.”
Why should you worry more about being a niche than being a hit?
Because you can produce anything for next to nothing, showcase (not market, not sell but showcase) it to the world via the Internet for next to nothing, and have it delivered overnight to almost anywhere in the world for next to nothing.
Big hits are generic, whereas niche favorites thrill a very specific, passionate and vocal market.
The world has become, from my perspective anyway, amazing. Before the world got wired, only big popular things made any money. Big brands dominated, and small or lesser-known brands lived and usually died off in the fringe. Sometimes, something fringe would take off, like Grey Poupon mustard, and a sure sign that you had made it was when a giant conglomerate like KRAFT bought your little fringe mustard company.
In the old world, nobody wanted to stay small. They wanted to get big and get bought. When the retail space is defined by actual stores and shelves stocked with merchandise, then understandably the stores only want to stock popular stuff that is going to sell, like denim and NIKE and Campbell’s soup and TIDE detergent and Top 40 music and living room furniture with built-in cup holders.
Which items sell the most aren’t always what we all like. More often, those items that the most people want refers to what we will all accept.
Now manufacturers don’t have to make something that everyone is going to want so that the people who control the shelves will choose to put their stuff on the shelves.
Now we can make very specific things for very specific audiences and bring them to market easily. I was recently in Banff, Alberta skiing with my best friend who moved out there. We were talking about exactly this, and I asked him if he had ever heard of Kickstarter. Not only had he heard of Kickstarter, he had invested in a company. The company that he invested $139.00 CDN in makes a small device that looks like a hockey puck. The hockey puck sticks to the top of your ski, has a GPS unit in it and at the end of the day you can download all the information that it gathers all day long, so that if you are a true ski bum, you can know how many vertical feet you skied, how much distance you covered, and what your top speed is.
The vast majority of skiers couldn’t care less about this information, nor would they want to own this device. I, on the other hand, will have one by next season. A must-have, in fact.
The problem that a lot of creators have – maybe even you – is that even though they are excited about this shift, they cannot allow themselves to take the next step, which is to accept that if everything is different, then everything is different.
Everything, including how we think about creating stuff and bringing it to an audience. Nobody wants to be bothered, and nobody will allow you to market to them. They will come and find you when they need you, and they will only come and find you if you are worth finding.
Let me be really clear. Nobody will come to your seminar or care about your ad or watch your commercial or read your blog or buy your long-distance service or your hotel room or reserve a seat in your restaurant, even if you beg them to.
They won’t because they don’t care.
They won’t care until they do care, and they know that when they care, you will be there or someone else will be there. That’s just the way it is. Fight this truth at your peril.
Now we care about how authentic and real what you do is. We care that we can trust you. We look for you when we want to look for you and because of the Internet, you are really easy to find. It’s really easy to learn whatever we need to learn to decide if we want to buy what you are offering.
Now you can fill a need and appeal to a very specific niche, and all the people who have that problem or need that widget or like that music will find out, get excited about it and tell other people who are not only excited about it, but care to be excited about it.
The great thing about catering to a niche is that the people in that niche are passionate about it. Bring them what they want. They will remain loyal, and loyal happy fans bring more fans to the show.