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Niche, Niche, Niche

I’ve been struggling lately in developing the next product offering from Call True.  I know, I know, you say why not focus on what you have now?  I can’t.  I’m not happy with it, and I absolutely need a new product with a more defined purpose.  I know that we will probably redefine our niche a 100 times over the next few years, but our current strategy of just going after anyone with a website doesn’t feel productive.  How can we possibly build a comprehensive product for everyone? My good friend and business partner yesterday told me “we do have a niche, we’re going to become the 1 provider of click to call in the world.”  Sounds good right?  I don’t think so, let’s do a scenario to clarify:

Let’s say you want to create some jeans that will work for everyone.  So you create a pair  of elastic waistband jeans that fits everyone in the country (from little kids to Big, Big guys).  Sure your market potential is enormous, but the reality is you’re not going to really appeal to anyone.  For the little guys those jeans will be huge, awkward and uncomfortable.  They will only buy those jeans if your price is low enough.  For the big guys they’re really going to have to stretch those jeans out to fit right, which will make them tight, awkward, and uncomfortable.  They also will only buy if the price is low enough.  But you say the big and tall guys are paying $100 for a pair of jeans, why wouldn’t they pay $75 for ours?  Well the $100 jeans is the #1 pair for the big and tall market, and as a defined expert in that space they can command a better price.  It doesn’t matter if mine are cheaper, they aren’t built exclusively for big and tall.

In the world of Internet commerce building a niche is even more important in determining success.  Look at google, yes they are huge but they are still very much a niche play.  Their goal simply is to develop and maintain the best search engine in the world.  Everything else they do is a direct result of their claim, and delivery of the best search results on the Internet. 
My favorite example of defining a niche is one I heard in a recent episode of the fantastic podcast, Venture Voice (it’s nothing but weekly 30 minute interviews with entrepreneurs) with the founder of Fog Creek Software.  Fog Creek was started by a former Microsoft employee, his blog, and when he first started the company he set out to be a software consulting company.  His goal was to advise companies on software issues, and build customized software for companies.  The problem is there are tons of companies out there doing that, including one called IBM.  Joel’s company had a few clients, made a little bit of money but never really got anywhere.  Until they really get hit hard by the dotcom bust, and were forced to fire all their employees after losing all their clients.  He went back to the drawing board, and focused on building good software.  He realized that as a programmer he really had difficulty sniffing out the bugs within his code.  So he built a little program to do just that.  And as the consulting jobs starting coming back in again, he sort of put the debugging program he had written up for sale for others to enjoy.  And the orders started coming in, slowly but surely.  He was shocked.  He thought to himself, “can there be enough programmers in the world to make this worthwhile?”  Ultimately he chose to drop everything, and become the number 1 provider of debugging software in the world.  Sure there are a lot of ocmpanies with debugging software (microsoft included), but joel’s is the most popular.  He is after all the only company that really focuses on debugging software all year long, thus he has a better product he can charge more for, and he has incredible customer loyalty.  Did it work?  On the morning of that podcast he had sold nearly $10,000 worth of software already!  He readily admits, if he hadn’t found his niche he’d be nowhere. 

Niche first, expand later.  Conquering your industry is a step by step process.  Do one thing, really, really, really well now.  You’ll be rewarded.  For me becoming the “number 1 provider of click to call solutions” starts with one niche, in one industry, with a set customer in mind. 

I think I’ve found our niche.  I’ll keep you posted.

Intention Update:
intention for $1 million dollars this year: current income since intention – $5,800
intention for mom’s good health: she’s up walking, cooking etc so there is a definite improvement
intention for call true to reach $5 million in 12 months: we’re finding our niche and making connections in that niche as well as connecting with potential programmers.

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