Monday, February 01, 2010

Enterprise Nation - Extend your products, not your niche

Emma Jones from Enterprise Nation believes in starting a business and then finding and focusing on your niche (something which we know all about here at Shedworking). But what happens when you feel the niche audience you’ve chosen could be restricting in view of its size? In this week's column she argues it's then time to expand your product range, as opposed to extending your niche.
Niche is good
When planning and starting a business, try to focus on a niche audience. Doing so will reduce your marketing costs and deepen your knowledge of customers’ desires. Take the example of a cupcake maker. Rather than starting a business to provide all forms of cupcakes to everyone across the UK, how about:
- Providing cupcakes to customers only in your local area
- Specialising in wedding cupcakes
- Becoming an expert in making only red cupcakes

With a clear idea of your customer profile, you will know where to find business and how best to promote your products/service. As you become more involved in the market you’ll gain a solid understanding of market needs which comes in handy when it’s time to innovate and expand the range.

Back to the example of our cupcake maker who, let’s say, chose the option of specialising in wedding cupcakes. This business owner now wants to increase turnover and is wondering how to go about it. The options are to start producing cupcakes for other occasions to or go deeper with existing customers and expand what’s on offer. I’d recommend the latter approach. This wedding focused cake baker could increase revenue in a number of ways:

New products
Produce a ‘make your own cupcake’ kit and market this as an activity for hen nights!
Offer cooking courses to brides who want to re-live the special day in culinary style. Produce a line in Anniversary cupcakes so the couple can mark the occasion with your products every year thereafter.

Partner with others who service the same customer base and agree referral deals or affiliate arrangements. Weddings also need photographers, caterers, magicians, entertainment etc

Become an expert
Become the nation’s leading expert on wedding cupcakes by writing a book, starting a blog or self-publishing a magazine. Being an expert generates revenue, adds credibility and attracts new customers.

This approach of expanding what’s on offer to existing customers will increase customer loyalty and you can have fun coming up with new ideas for products and services. Stick with your niche – it will serve you well!

Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.


  1. I suppose one funadmental to this approach is that you understand what your niche actually is. It's quite possible if you've started a small business out of a hobby that you've not actively planned to have a niche market.

    You need to ensure that you focus on your target market just as much as your regular customers. If you rely too much on a small set of customers then this makes you vulnerable to one of them pulling out.

  2. One last thought, for people with internet businesses the costs and markets are different. You can make a good return from looking after the "long tail" i.e. it might be better to have 1 million customers who spend £1 each than to have one customer who spends £1M.