Want a bigger customer base? Think small, says this chief executive

Many small businesses dream of a world where the entire population is desperate to use their product—but one tech entrepreneur says businesses should go small when chasing customers.

Writing in AlleyWatch, Ty Morse, chief executive of US SMS communications company Songwhale, explains that honing in on niche groups has been a key part of the growth of his business, which turns 10 this year.

“Most people want to be catered to. They want companies to understand their needs and create products that respond to those needs—niche marketing can do just that,” Morse says. Songwhale’s approach has been to target select industries and types of users that might benefit from the company’s SMS services, creating specific marketing materials and products for those groups.

For other businesses, Morse recommends three key approaches to getting small groups with particular needs respond to your product.

1. Consider the lives of your current users

The best way to think about niche marketing is to think about the kinds of customers that regularly interact with your product—taking notice of their lifestyles and concerns might throw up new areas or demographics that your company could serve.

“At Songwhale, we were working with a local restaurant owner on developing text messages for ordering and promotions. After customising the platform to work for this restauranteur, we realised other restaurant owners would probably be interested in a similar setup,” Morse says.

“The effort we put into one client’s platform could be easily mapped onto a custom platform for all restauranteurs to use”.

2. Think beyond your current customers 

When developing a product or service for one type of customer, Morse recommends using that work as a form of market research into what other customers in the same segment will find most valuable.

“When you start working to design a product for a specific customer type, you can repurpose that work as a model for the demographic,” Morse says.

“For example, we developed a text-in showings and tours system for a realtor, so we added that option to our Cheapest Texting for Real Estate platform.”

The same process could also be used for different market segments. What one group of customers find valuable about a product may well translate to a completely different sector of clients if you think ahead to communicate that.

3. Create separate marketing channels 

Clients want to keep coming back when they feel your business understands their specific needs—so once you’ve identified any potential niches, create the right channels to connect with each group, says Morse.

This could even extend to individual website landing pages—Songwhale has a separate “Cheapest Texting” website just for churches, for example—as well as making sure your business pops up when particular clients are searching for the types of services you provide.

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