Last week we looked at why niches are important and how you can use our three factors to evaluate your own niche (or lack of it), and any potential niches that you are thinking of moving into, in strategic terms.
This week, I’m here with a Marvellous Marketing Spotter’s Guide that will bring last week’s ‘theory’ to life and give you a ‘real’ version of how niching can give your business a massive advantage.
The business in question is called Stan’s Bike Shack, and, when I say shack, it really is a shack, or, a big shed, down a quiet country lane in West Sussex.
The reason I love this business (apart from the great coffee) is the choice of niche and the way that this is driving the strategic choices made by the business owner.
So, what is it? Well, Stan’s Shack is a coffee shop, with great coffee. But, more than that, it’s strategically situated alongside The Downs Link, which for those of you who don’t know, is the disused railway line that runs from Guildford to Shoreham. The railway was dismantled in the sixties and is now a 37-mile track that takes you through some stunning countryside, well away from the roads. The track is well-used by runners, walkers, horse riders and, critically, lots and lots of cyclists.
I’m not sure whether Stan is a cycling enthusiast and that’s why he’s developed the shack as a cyclist’s second home, or he wanted to have a café, and it has evolved over time because of the clientele. But, the shack is a perfect example of niching because everything about it is set up to service a particular audience. And, boy, do they flock there!
Outside the café are rows and rows of bike racks, a tap for refilling water bottles, and free-to-borrow bike locks, so that customers can be sure that their thousand-pound baby isn’t going to go missing while they order a macchiato.
Inside the café there is bike memorabilia and posters all over the walls. Plus a whole host of replacement parts and clothing, local maps and energy bars to buy, tyre pumps to borrow, and lots of cyclists.
The menu has been carefully planned to include light and quick to eat food, fresh fruit such as bananas, excellent coffee and glorious cakes (the main reason we keep going back!).
All of these factors mean that this is a great pit-stop for cyclists. I expect that they even plan their route around visiting the shack and tell their friends about it. It’s always busy and buzzing.
Not only is all this very well thought out, but the marketing is excellent – to be honest, I’m sure that word of mouth is doing the job for Stan, but also, check out the ‘explainer video’ on the home page of the website, it couldn’t be clearer!
What is wonderful about this business, is that not only is it popular within its niche, but it clearly demonstrates that you CAN focus on your niche, without alienating other customers. My family visits on foot, almost every weekend, as do lots of people from the local community, and we aren’t cyclists – the cycling theme doesn’t put us off! This is a blueprint for finding a niche, committing to it, and not being too worried about alienating other customers in the process.
Give it some thought, and let us hear your niche ideas! Comment below to let us know who you are serving, get specific and we’ll let you know what we think!