Laina Stebbins

Niche is nice

The Inc. article “How To Define Your Target Market” placed a strong emphasis on carving out your own corner of the market, which is more important than ever when up against larger companies which may already have a hold on broader portions of that audience.

I find it fascinating that in order to be more successful and efficient as a small startup, the key is not to attempt to reach as large of an audience as possible (as logical as the instinct to do so might be) – the key is, in fact, to do the opposite of this and identify the narrowest part of your target market. By understanding who your business resonates the most with, you can save precious dollars and time while getting the most returns on your investments, so to speak.

Truly, a well-defined niche market is a useful solution to marketing woes; but first, you must do the research. From what we’ve seen so far, I think this part is true for any media innovation/startup. Without thorough research to determine who your customer base is, who your competitors are, and a litany of other important factors that will have an effect on your business’ success, you will likely find yourself stuck spending too much time and money marketing to the wrong audience (not the “wrong” audience – just not an audience that is dialed in or receptive enough) and not spending enough marketing to the right one. In this way, conducting in-depth research and analysis on all these factors can allow a startup to move forward effectively.

The Tow-Knight article about launching a media site was rather dry, but extremely useful nonetheless. The part about defining your “ideal user” was interesting to me, and certainly something that stuck in my head.

As I was reading the article, I had the media site I work for (The Tab) in the back of my mind. I kept thinking about whether the three founders (who were students at Cambridge University at the time) had taken all of these considerations into mind when they launched The Tab at their school in 2009. I certainly think so, because as I went through the article, the answers to the questions each section brought about were clear in my head.

I think this can also be attributed to the fact that the founders were within their target market/niche market themselves; they were college kids who saw the need for a publication that: a.) was hyper-specific to their university, b.) wrote about what students on campus were talking about and/or would be actually be interested in, c.) was written by regular students at their university, and d.) combined bold, funny or tabloid-like stories with more serious, hard-hitting journalism that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

As the podcast above demonstrates, the founders of The Tab wanted to create a unique student news publication that couldn’t be found anywhere else. Based on my knowledge of The Tab and how it has grown over the years, I would say that the founders – including Jack Rivlin – did their research. (Either that, or they just got really lucky.)

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