The Long & Winding Road: Niche work if you can get it…

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The world, it is ‘ashrinking’! Look at any graphic depicting the use of on-line services or social media or general Internet traffic and you cannot be anything other than staggered at the ubiquitous nature of the digital world. There is a problem however, a problem which is understandable and illustrative at the same time. By now we are all fed up to the back teeth of animated power-point presentations telling us that ‘if Facebook were a country…yada yada yayda’ you know the rest. There tends to be a rather myopic slant on Internet traffic statistics and that is that they tend to be focused around the USA and Europe. While I accept that we are bound to look at where we already are, we must also recognise that there is a big world out there and for too many of us we are ignoring it…not by accident but by choice. 

There are companies who actively seek new markets in places where they are not comfortable because they understand that if we can connect people technologically in the blink of an eye we also need to have something worth connecting to. 

Have a look at this clip from a BBC interview with a Japanese company trying to break into the EU and then global marketplace, pay particular attention to the way they have structured their approach on older thinking that will serve their high speed technological approach well once it is in place. If you are wondering what that might be , it is the attention to training staff over a long period of time,in order to allow them to hit the ground running when they deploy in the EU. As they say ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance’ 

BBC News – Japanese on-line retailer Rakuten to compete globally 

Several months ago in this blog , I spoke of the immense social media scene in China and the huge numbers of people in Facebook-like and Twitter-like communities. As the year has gone on we are starting to hear names like Renren (Facebook) and Sina Weibo (Twitter) rolling off the tongues of those in the ‘know’. 

Next stop , India! 

The point here is that there are enormous markets emerging as we speak and it is folly to think that one geographical area is enough. In the world we operate, it is business suicide to focus too heavily on one demographic, even if there is plenty of low hanging fruit. As people become more comfortable and adept at using the technology they will expand their mental horizons along with their physical horizons. 

The problem we face is knowing what is best to do….. should you go global or not? Well , I think there is a halfway house which might just work for many aspiring entrepreneurs and companies who are unable to mix it with the big boys. 

Niche markets are where the success might be waiting for you, in the old days a niche market was very limited in size and therefore was typically at the high end of retail. Today a niche market might be 30 million people in China who particularly like all things Californian or perhaps 25 million people in India who want to experience the British culture as they were taught about in the days of the British Empire. Now tell me you are not interested in having 1 million paying customers let alone 30 million! 

As our ability to communicate has grown so we must shrink our field of work if not our field of vision. There is a subtle difference between the two. Yes , we must always be up to date with trends and events around the globe but we must also be happy to serve a small slice of humanity ridiculously well. In doing that we will enjoy success. Here is a simple home shot webcast type video dealing with just this topic…..( thankfully the kitchen was tidy!)

Be sure to realise that focusing on a niche market today is not settling for less but in fact signalling your intent to be exceptional…. I invite you to try! 

see you on the long and winding road……… Patrick

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