Niche Marketing Strategy from Antiques Roadshow

harrison campaign buttons

Photo thanks to:  Cornell University

A friend has a large collection of campaign buttons, dating back to William Henry Harrison (US president for only 31 days in 1841).

When Antiques Roadshow came to town, she eagerly brought some of her collection in for appraisal, hoping to be told her treasured buttons were worth lots of money.

It turns out that they weren’t.

Why didn’t this work?

Because collectors want something very particular.  Not all campaign buttons, but campaign buttons for Republicans from Pennsylvania.  Or, buttons from Barack Obama’s campaign for president.

If you’re an Obama guy, Clinton buttons won’t do.  Certainly not George W. Bush buttons.

Her selection was too broad to interest avid collectors who want one thing and one thing only, and will buy anything and everything that fits that particular niche.

How does this apply to marketing?

Be specific

Try aiming your marketing and your services toward  your own niche collectors: the people who want exactly what you do (accountants who need web sites, dry cleaners who want flyers designed, or musicians who want web videos).

Build anticipation

People are drawn to Antiques Roadshow by the possibility of finding great riches from something they bought at a yard sale for $5.  Give out little snippets about what you’re up to.  Make people curious.

Demonstrate success

Show other people succeeding after following your advice or  using your services.  Include testimonials and case studies.  Make a video or two showing happy clients.

Fill a void

I came across someone who collects old Burry’s cookie boxes (a company that went out of business years ago).  To a cookie box collector, the price doesn’t matter.  What does matter is filling any possible hole in his collection, or finding something extraordinarily rare that other collectors can’t get. That’s not just the joy of acquisition, it’s the joy of exclusivity.

Give people something they can’t get elsewhere; such as a project progress dashboard, or blog posts from videos.

What do you think?   Is there something you’re doing that nobody else does?  What is it?  Share your story.

Why Do You Really Need a Target Audience?


Why do marketers always ask if you have a target audience? Why not just tell the client what to do? You know, a step-by-step tutorial. Isn’t marketing just marketing? Why does it matter?

It may seem odd, but there is method to this madness.

Target More, Spend Less

The reason we ask is because we’re trying to find out how to help you and what to recommend. It matters because what’s appropriate for a business trying to reach Fortune 500 companies is not suitable for a business who wants to sell  hangers to local dry cleaners.

Choose the Right Message

If you were going to do a logo for a toy store, you’d choose different fonts, colors, and design elements than you would if you were creating a logo for a funeral home. The first should be lively and happy and bright. The second should be somber and reassuring.

Spending a lot of time creating a cheery logo for the funeral home would be a mistake. The client would be unhappy and you’d probably have to redo it (costing you time and money). If you spend a lot of time and money trying to reach “everybody,” you’ll end up with fewer clients (not more). Market to fewer people, and you’ll earn more.

Get More Money

You need a target audience so you know where to focus. Picture a real archery target. There’s a big red circle in the middle, and rings around it. Hitting the circle gets you 10 points. Hitting one of the rings gets you fewer points. The further the ring is from the center, the fewer points you get. If you miss the target entirely, you get nothing.

Marketing works the same way.  If you hit the center of the target (your ideal customer) and you make money. Hit something close, you make some money, but not as much. Miss the target entirely, you get nothing.

Let’s say you’re selling  car insurance for commercial fleets.  Your ideal customer might be moving companies. A close second could be florists or contractors.  They all have several vehicles, which get a lot of use, and have to be insured.  On the other hand, copywriters and designers likely only need a single car, for their own use.  Marketing to them (and I have personally received offers for this) is a complete miss.  That sort of marketing is completely broken (and unfortunately, too common).  It costs lots of money, but earns very little.

On the other hand, once you have a real ideal customer profile, you can then narrow down where you look for prospects, what to offer them. and how you reach them. Think like a fisherman. Go where the fish are.

Photo: Sachin Ghodke