Niche – What’s yours and how are you using it?

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

There is a saying that no two grains of sands are the same, and the same concept can be applied to people too. Although many people might have a great deal in common with one another, when you begin to take a closer look into who they are, you quickly will see how they are different from others. It is the differences which help to define who they are as a person, and if you had to articulate what their niche is. A niche is different from your value proposition, and should be easier for you to define. I’ll help you to think about this by providing a story about how this concept can work for you.

Yesterday I had a very fortunate opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for many years, and it was to go snorkeling in the Great Barrier reef off of Cairns, Australia. When I was researching which reef tours to go on, I thought the best way to narrow down my search would be to choose one based on a referral. Since I naturally enjoy asking questions, I started asking people I encountered if they had recently been on a reef tour, and whether they would recommend the one they went on. Most of the people I spoke to had gone out on the large 100 foot reef trips which take 100-300 people on them. In my mind this did not seem very appealing and was too commercial for my liking. Fortuneately the last person I asked the “reef question” to, had been on a reef tour the day before. When they started describing the experience they had and used the word “quirky” more than a few times, I thought this was definitely something I wanted to experience, and I did the next day.

The reef experience started out early in the morning by arriving at the dock and seeing what appeared to be an old fashioned sailing vessel. It looked nothing like any of the other reef tour boats which were mostly 50-100+ foot fast moving catamaran hull boats. The captain and crew were also not who you might point out from a group of people who you would think would be your typical crew mates, but they were beyond amazing at what they each did. Because it was a small crew, they each had special skills which were on full display during our experience with them (e.g., scuba instructors, two of them knew how to sail the boat, all of them knew how to manage the boat sails and rigging, each had an amazing personality and only two of them were from Australia – the captain grew up in Miami, one crew member was from France, one was from Tazmania and the other one was from all over, with the last place she lived being Fiji). Since the boat was around 55 feet in length, the amount of guests on board could not exceed 20 people, which was a perfect amount of crew to guest ratio.

When I asked Captain Doug what was to me a rhetorical question about what his niche was, his response was not what I expected. He said that in all the years he has been taking guests out on reef tours, only a few guests have ever taken photos of the large reef tour boats cruising by, while our sailing vessel was being continuoulsly having its photo taken. This is because our boat is the only fully functional and operating former pearl farming boat which is also well over 100 years old, and looks amazing due to the care taken of it. So, the answer Captain Doug gave me was that this is the only boat of its kind which takes people on reef tours and is what clearly defines it as its niche. Being the only Great Barrier Reef tour sailing vessel is also what offers them a competitive advantage when people are looking for a unique reef trip experience.

As I mentioned earlier, everyone and every company has a niche. Some are more obvious than others, and if you have not defined what your personal or company niche is, you can do so by answering and responding to these three inquires.

  1. Make a list of things you believe make you or your company unique, then narrow this list down to 2-3 items.
  2. Ask other people to describe what makes you different from others, either from a business or personal perspective. Extract the aspects of what they have conveyed to you which are repeated by others, and this will help you to establish defining your niche.
  3. Think about the work you are doing. Now think about how your skills or abilities are different from your colleagues, and why someone might ask you to help them with something versus asking someone else. Or, think about the type of work you are doing, and how you might approach getting the work done differently from others, and perhaps get better results than others.

Describing your niche does not have to be paragraphs long in length, but it should allow you to be in a defensible position so that others cannot readily claim your niche as theirs. There may be subtle differences of your niche from others, but one or two words can make a tremendous difference in helping you to define what your personal or your company niche is.

This blog is dedicated to Captain Dan and his crew of the #Falla in Cairns, Australia who is the perfect example of having defined his personal and business niche. fallareeftrips.com.au

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

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