Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Going Pro: Case studies in Super Niche

For many, the idea of “Super niching” feels like a pair of handcuffs.  Like you will be limiting potential clients.  If you want to build a company quickly, the natural instinct is to cast a wide net.  The benefits of targeting your audience, however, is central to every book on marketing you’ll ever read (and I recommend you read a couple if you’re just starting out).  Seeing it work in action is impressive, and far more convincing than anything you’ll read in a book, though. 

Hurricane Images Inc - Illy Coffee barista
Illy Cafe Shoot - Illy is a super niche within the coffee world

Case study, Shmuley Hoffman 

Shmuley Hoffman at Hoffman Productions is an excellent example of “super niching.” In fact, that’s who I borrowed the term from.  His company’s primary focus is not simply promotional videos for summer camps, he’s honed it to Jewish summer camps.  As of this publication, he keeps a wonderful-if-brief blog with great business tips for starting out.  In his videoblog interview with Thomas Roberts he doubles down on the super niche idea.  Thomas took his non-video career in medical instruments and turned his contacts into lucrative video clients. It’s a great example of using your existing relationships to identify your niche, and he gives a first-hand account of his experience here:  I always look forward to Hoffman’s amusing and helpful posts.  And Shmuley’s video production is first rate—worthy of study.

Spark Shop Creatives (  is another company that started as a super niche.  I worked on a project with them a few years back and got to share more than a few Indian beers with Chuck Fryberger and his team.  His company grew out of a love for rock climbing.  Chuck started by filming their climbs.  Their self-produced videos attracted the interest of companies like Cliff Bar and climbing equipment companies.  It expanded to Red Bull and detoured into other areas.  But they’ve kept their identity around climbing, sports, and the outdoors.  When you think about it, that’s a huge market.

It’s worthwhile to note that “super niching” (and yes, I’ll stop using that word soon), also positions you as an expert in creating videos for that audience… even if your skill level isn’t above average in general.  If you “specialize” in creating videos for non-profits, you present yourself as an expert in the field just by not catering to everyone.

So how do you pick your niche?  There’s no science to this process, but here’s a tool that might help:
1.       Divide a sheet of paper into three columns
2.       In the first column, make a list of the types of businesses you already interact with professionally; include personal relationships with business owners.
3.       In the second column, list the areas in which you’d say your knowledge borders on expert or near expert; include hobbies.
4.       In the third column, make a list of the clients you’d like to work with.  This might include businesses from your first column, but also dream clients.

Now look for common elements across these three columns. Any item that appears in two or more columns is a potential niche.  Give the first column preferential treatment, because these are potential clients you already know.  Circle the businesses, knowledge areas, and clients that overlap in some way.

Now comes the time for a heart check.  Make another list of the kind of video you’d like to create.  This list can be genre’s (testimonials, documentaries, short film), and also how they will be experienced (uplifting, grand in scope, gritty).  Do the descriptions from the heart check list fit with the clients?  Where’s the most overlap?

Just joining us?  You can read about the beginning of the Going Pro series here.

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