Regardless of a company’s service or product, each company has to strive for excellence. The unfortunate reality, however, is that very few companies will actually reach the ambitious goals of being the best in category.
But, don’t give up. The key to success is finding a niche audience and marketing to them in a way that makes your business stand out from the masses of competitors. Find an appropriately sized target audience for your business, and market to them. Try to avoid spreading yourself too thin, which has the unintended effect of decreasing your products’ and services’ appeal.
Still not convinced? Studiocult.co has succeeded at applying these marketing strategies. An accessories and housewares brand that celebrates digital culture and the creatives who shape the world as we know it, Studiocult founder Yuliya Veligurskaya drew upon her childhood experiences with digital design. Her love for 2-D digital art, and the culture surrounding it, led her to her niche market: Enamel pin art aimed at a young, digital, and creative audience. The combination of digital nostalgia and digital design inside jokes draws customers in – but the paradox between Veligurskaya’s stunning attention to detail and the simpler digital images her works evoke turns an audience into customers.
Even in the crowded marketplace of gift items, nostalgia-driven goods, and goods aimed at Millennials, Studiocult stands out. It marks people as being part of a niche or “in-crowd,” and particularly, one that has many in-jokes, references, and specific terms. Veligurskaya defined this specific market. Studiocult – a portmanteau of “studio culture” – took off. In only 8 months, Studiocult became a beloved brand for creatives around the world – and it’s not done yet, with new launches happening frequently and some exciting new products in the pipeline.
How did Veligurskaya do this? Her top three tips for defining a winning niche are below:
Identify Your Niche
The first step in niche marketing is simply finding your niche. You need to have a concrete idea of who would benefit most from your product or service, and consequently, who would buy it. Your niche market is also dependent on geographic location, price points, and the specific characteristics of your product. Is the market saturated in your location? If so, you can stand out by further narrowing down your audience, whether that means selling only to customers in a smaller location or customers who have a specific purpose in buying your product.
Veligurskaya was able to find a niche: After she stumbled upon a closely-knit group of enamel pin enthusiasts who connected on Instagram, and who happily reposted vintage, global, and other enamel pin exemplars, the idea took hold: Why not make enamel pins appealing to a specific group of creatives? Now, she creates miniature pieces of art in the form of enamel pins and soon, housewares. Her ability to find this niche was due to her years of experience using MS Paint, and when she figured out a way to create a real-life MS Paint window in the form of a wearable product, Studiocult was born. Studiocult honors those who use technology to create beautiful things by evoking their own creative and technological pasts. Entering this market was a no-brainer for her since her background meant she already knew her audience. Veligurskaya was personally invested in this concept and drew upon her memories and experiences to develop new products. No one else was selling exactly what Studiocult offered, so the products were able to take on their distinct personalities by connecting directly to this niche’s interests. Ultimately, this led to the company’s success. Inventory quickly sold out, and many people turned their attention to Studiocult, praising it for its thick growth. Originally a darling of the enamel pin community, Studiocult experienced dramatic growth after some viral images circulated, and became more mainstream after some influencers began sporting the pins on social media.
Reevaluate Your Niche
So you’ve identified your niche and finished high-fiving everyone in the room. That’s great, but that was only the first step. Time to get cracking. Does your niche fit with your interests, or does it just find a niche and a way to sell something? Be honest with yourself: If you are not excited about sloth-themed staplers, or mouse pads with the Constitution on them, or an app designed to teach people Klingon, then you are going to burn out. If you tell your friends about your niche and product and they say, “That’s so you!” then you should proceed! However, be careful not to create too narrow of a niche. A niche is really just a market segment, meaning a group of people with some characteristics in common. A niche of 27-year-old white guys named Gary who are college-educated squash enthusiasts making $50,000 a year and driving green Subarus is a niche, but how many products can you realistically sell? Instead of looking for demographics, try looking at disparities. Which demographics are not being served, and what are their needs? Balancing demographics with disparities positioned Studiocult for success: Creatives lacked a line of ready-made products that reflected and acknowledged their subculture.
If you’re stuck, ask yourself these questions again: Who are your closest competitors, and why are they your competitors? Is there any way you can work together with them for mutual benefits? Where is your niche market most active? What sort of platform would best connect you to them?
Too many businesses set overly ambitious goals, which leads to a cycle of failure: Setting goals and niches that are too large and too broad. Compared to close competitors, who may have more specific goals, this will put a company at a distinct disadvantage. Trying to please everyone with a broad goal will only frustrate everyone. It’s better to just focus on doing a really, really great job of pleasing your niche.
Once you have identified your niche market, spend some time thinking about who they are and what they need. Veligurskaya saw herself as a proxy for the niche market: Young creative professionals with modest salaries. The product and price point grew from there.
Identifying a niche market allows you to set realistic short-term and long-term goals. Because Studiocult has a specific and narrow focus, it is able to work on its short-term goal of collaborating with retail shops, museums, and galleries who are passionate about this particular niche in art and design. The company’s long-term goal is to expand its success with pins to home décor, gifts, jewelry, accessories, and clothing lines.
Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or the founder of your startup, it is beneficial to narrow your focus to concentrate on what matters most and what/who will help your business most. If you have done your calculations diligently, then you will have fewer qualms as you enter the market. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.