For a little bit of background, I like to go surfing and so I visit Wales as much as possible. During this trip, my family and I stayed in Llandudno for the first time, to visit ‘Surf Snowdonia’, a man-made inland surfing lake. Llandudno is a very beautiful seaside town and as I write this piece it is very much an up-and-coming town. Here are our observations as tourists here and how this trip inspired this post about why you should niche your business…
Initial Impressions: the same but different?
The seafront promenade is around a mile long, packed with beautiful, multi-storey Victorian buildings, most of which have been converted into hotels. Each of them boasts a restaurant and bar out the front, hoping to bring in punters that aren’t staying there. However, if we look at this street from a marketing point of view, how do these hotel/restaurants stand out from the crowd?
Each hotel is the same location and looks very similar, the architecture is consistent up and down the promenade. Pricing was different however, some were really cheap, as little as £35 per night (which is unbelievable really) and others were offering a more premium stay with a more premium price tag. Essentially, however, they were all offering customers the same thing.
Which restaurant should we choose?
Rather than eat at our hotel each night, we were keen to find alternatives. Trip Advisor wasn’t that helpful so we headed out onto the promenade to see what all the other hotel restaurants were offering.
Whilst browsing our options it was really hard to choose, none of them stood out. Even though the hotels were really nice, the restaurants were not doing anything different to their neighbours; they served the same type of thing; seafood, steak, club sandwiches.
Standing out from the crowd
We found one place that had taken an old hotel and turned it into a restaurant, going to town on making it really different. It had really niched down and was all about the seafood. This restaurant had made itself special and different to what the rest of the market was doing. It had a fancy bar to start the night, a stunning main restaurant, a smaller private room for big parties to hire, and a second, more relaxed bar tool. Although this place in any other town would be the norm, no one else in the area had done this. All of them had a standard hotel and a restaurant, so this felt different.
On our first night, we tried to get a table, but given how great it looked we weren’t surprised to find it was fully booked. It was a relatively new opening at the time and there weren’t enough reviews on Trip Advisor for it to appear in our search so we had really stumbled upon something special. It was unique and niche and so we booked for the following night.
During our evening there, the owner said that since they’ve been open they’re fully booked 99% of the time. They always leave a couple of seats for people like us who just turn up, but they were already pretty booked up until the following month.
Now whilst I can’t say for certain, I’m pretty sure most of the other hotels didn’t have bookings like that, many had ‘open’ and ‘available’ signs. It’s surprising that in a saturated market like that, this venue was offering the same services but had made themselves appear special and niche, which is what makes a huge difference.
I think all of us can learn from this. As businesses, we’re all in heavily saturated markets. However by doing something slightly different, even if it’s just the way we position ourselves, we can make a huge difference to our success.
A different scenario, a different business niche
This leads me to a slightly different example. Here at Strafe, we have a client who provides a cold calling service, essentially phoning someone who you don’t know to try to sell something to them. If we’re honest, most of us don’t really like those types of people, they’re quite pushy and you just want to get them off the phone.
Interestingly, however, what our client did was to establish a niche and only work with marketing firms or marketing departments. The goal was to integrate their service into a step-by-step process, leading to a long-term goal. They would cold-call people to book an appointment, push people onto a website to sign up for a webinar, or to be part of their direct mailing list.
Another key part of their service that really makes a difference is that it is based on a cost per lead. Instead of being paid for a certain number of days work, they’re being paid on their skill level – “For every person that becomes a qualified lead, you will pay X amount of money to us.”
All of a sudden, they’ve removed any of the pain points that their client may have had, many potential clients of theirs did not want to sign up and pay without guaranteed leads.
If you look at their competitors’ websites, they’re all pushing cold calling. They focus on the number of calls they can make in a day, how efficient they can be with what they’re doing today, and making sure that people get their maximum number of people called. It’s all about the telephone and pushing people.
In contrast, our client has made the service all about results. They’ve focused their message on how they link in with current marketing campaigns. They’re essentially providing the exact same product, but they’re advertising their services in a different way and since doing so, their sales have gone through the roof.
What is your business niche?
I think this is what’s going to become really important. You don’t need to pick a small niche for your business. Just coming across in a slightly different way to the rest of your market is hugely beneficial. If you’re in Llandudno, check out the promenade and look at the fact that every single place is just a hotel. I bet there are lots of other cities that have the same problem too!
We are all in saturated markets that are selling the same thing, and that’s why picking a niche for your business is so important. The worry will always be ‘apples and apples’; the client has nothing to compare to that makes us any different. So, how do you guys become the ‘orange’ in the market?
In summary: niche your business
Just to finish off, my one last note is that I always point out to clients that ‘customer service’ is not a niche. The argument of ‘we provide a better customer service’ isn’t a niche because nobody goes into business to provide bad customer service. Therefore, when you say that ‘we’re different because we really care’ or ‘we’re different because we’re providing better customer service than the rest’, whilst that may be true, it’s not enough for your client.
We all need to come up with something that’s tangibly different. If customer service is your current niche, I would say that your marketing isn’t strong enough and that you need to think about how to position yourself. So good luck and head to Llandudno!
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