“If you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone!”
If you want to dominate a niche, you first have to know what your niche is. Do you know that when you try to be “everything” to everyone, you won’t be “anything” to anyone? You want to be a BIG FISH in a small pond, rather
than a minnow in a huge ocean. So, who is your perfect target niche client? My good friend and business consultant Ellen Rohr explains a simple way to find out. Think about your very best customers. You know them— they never complain about price, they always pay on time, and they are a pleasure to work with. That picture describes your target niche market. Of course in your phenomenal marketing plan, you will determine the demographics (age, gender, income, etc.) and psychographics (purchasing habits, etc.) of your perfect target market.
Domination is a result of positioning.
In the classic marketing book Positioning by Jack Trout and Al Ries, they describe positioning as a slot in your target market’s mind much like a file in a file cabinet. To illustrate this, let me ask you a couple of questions: When I say laundry detergent, what brand first comes to mind? For most it’s Tide. When I say soft drink, what brand comes to mind first? Most would say Coke. Regardless of what brand comes to your mind, the one that did is the one that occupies that slot—the file in the file cabinet of your mind. So your job as a phenomenal marketer is to have a system for positioning yourself at the highest place in the mind of your perfect target market.
Positioning and domination is a result of being UNIQUE.
Let’s look at three companies that have done this well:
1. Whole Foods—they recognized the growing trend of natural food enthusiasts (target market) and decided to take up a position in that space.
2. Starbucks—They created a unique experience around coffee—a commodity that has been around for thousands of years.
3. Harley-Davidson—Whether you’re a biker or not, you must agree that there’s a unique experience around owning and riding a hog!
That could be good or bad depending on your view! LOL!
Being unique means you can charge more.
Why do you need to charge more? Because working 24/7 just to barely scrape by is not a phenomenal life. Remember, the only reason your business exists is to help you achieve your life goals. Why doesn’t the average person shop at Whole Foods? Because of “cost.” I personally love to shop at Whole Foods when I am home because they offer the natural foods that I want. I pay more, but I get what I want all at the same place. My wife points out that I could get certain items cheaper at other places, but I’m not interested in going to three different stores to get what I need, and none of the other stores have the natural food selection that I want.
How much can you spend on a cup of coffee at Starbucks?
I decided to find out, so I conducted an informal marketing survey. As I traveled around the country, I would go into Starbucks, walk up to the counter and say, “I want to buy your most expensive cup of coffee.” Almost always without hesitation (but with a curious look on their faces), they would typically offer a Venti Salted Mocha Frappuccino or something like that.
“How much is that?” I asked. “$6.25,” they responded.
Then I say, “Can you make it more expensive?”
“What do you mean?” they ask.
“I want to buy the most expensive coffee I can,” I insist. “For example,
could you add some shots?”
“How many can you add?”
“As many as you want.”
“Yeah, but the Venti cup only holds a certain amount, right?”
So, they figure that up. Then almost without fail, another employee comes along and says “You could add some flavors.” They are quick to remind me that I won’t be able to drink it and I assure them that’s okay because I don’t
want to drink it, I just want to get the most expensive cup of coffee I can find.
The highest price I have been able to find so far is $43.27!
Don’t worry, I didn’t pay that. In fact each episode ends the same way, “Never mind, I’ll just have a tall cappuccino.” They didn’t laugh either. But I do always gave them a big tip for playing along, and they liked that. I recently came across a video of a guy who did the same experiment with Starbucks. He created a great video of the interaction and the actual sales receipt!
Harley-Davidson isn’t concerned about being the cheapest bike around, right? They have created such an experience around their brand that people are willing to pay a high price to own one. Recently we held a leadership retreat in Colorado Springs, and a couple who are in our coaching program rode their Harley all the way from Florida. They built a 17-day vacation around the event. I went outside to see their bike, and the husband was beaming as he showed it off. It had a nice trailer, and he explained how it was top-of-the-line and how it had all the bells and whistles.
“How much you got in this bike?” I asked. “Sixty-five grand,” he responded. He explained that the trailer had to custom painted to match the bike and so on.
The Experience Economy
To demonstrate how this works, let me share a concept from a phenomenal book called The Experience Economy by Joe Pine and James Gilmore. What I learned from that book is when coffee first hits the market as a commodity, it costs about $1 a pound. Not much differentiation at this point other than the type of bean. Once it is packaged and appears on the shelf at the grocery store, it becomes a good.
How much does a pound of coffee cost at the grocery store? Having presented this message thousands of times, I have found that very few people know how much they pay for a cup of coffee! We just enter the store like zombies and grab our brand. LOL!
Coffee in the grocery store can range from $2.99 per pound (it’s actually 12 ounces of coffee and 4 ounces of air—kind of like potato chips these days!), on up to more than ten bucks a pound. Now, we have gone from one dollar a pound to three to ten times the price! For what? Packaging. The brand. How is your packaging? How is your brand? Most small business owners are at the forefront of their businesses. Did you know that the way you dress, the way you carry yourself and the way you communicate assigns a value to you and your business? The next level is the service level. If you go to Denny’s and buy a cup of coffee, what are you really paying for? You’re not really paying for coffee right? You are paying for the service of someone to brew that coffee and make it available to you. How much does a cup of coffee cost at Denny’s? About $1 per cup. How much of that weak coffee can you make from a pound of coffee? About 60 cups! So the price per pound goes up to about $60 a pound at Denny’s. When you think about your marketing message, are you talking enough about your unique service? When you sell the benefits of a unique service rather than just the work you do or the product features, you begin to set yourself apart and can therefore charge more than the commodity price.
How to get people to stand in line and pay you the highest prices for your product or service.
Finally, the next level is the experience. This would be having a cappuccino in Italy outside one of the historical landmarks. When we were there eight years ago, it was about $8 a cup. Another example of the experience level would be Starbucks. People stand in line to pay the highest prices for a cup of coffee—a commodity that has been around for thousands of years.
I have a picture I took in the Baltimore airport. There were 63 people standing in line at Starbucks. And that was just in a few minutes time. There were hundreds of people that stood in that line. Now here’s a little disclaimer: the other two coffee places in that area were closed. But that’s a message by itself. Why were they closed? I can only assume that management felt there weren’t enough flights going out at that time to justify running the lights, and I can just hear them say that their employees don’t like coming in that early anyway! But Starbucks understands something the other coffee places don’t. They understand that those 63 people are going to walk onto an airplane with hundreds of other people on it with something very important in their hands—not just a cup of coffee, but the logo on the cup. The brand. As each person sitting on that airplane sees that logo, it makes them wish they stood in line for it. They might be thinking, I’m going to attack that man and take that cup of coffee!
Now the question becomes “Can you do this in your small business?” And the answer is yes you can.