Recently Seth Godin wrote this:
“There’s a huge difference between ‘no one’ and ‘almost no one’.
Almost no one is going to hire you.
Almost no one is going to become a true fan.
Almost no one is going to tell someone else about your work.
Almost no one is going to push you to make your work better.
If only 1% of the US population steps up, that’s 3 million people in the category of ‘almost no one’.
If only one in ten thousand internet users engage with you, that’s still hundreds of thousands of people.
The chance that everyone is going to applaud you (never mind even become aware that you exist) is virtually nil.
Most brands and organisations and individuals that fail fall into the chasm of trying to be all things in order to please everyone, and end up reaching no one.
That’s the wrong thing to focus on.
Better to focus on and delight almost no one.”
What I love about that is the way it repositions the argument for identifying and owning a niche.
Everyone is petrified of becoming a niche brand.
They think settling for a small segment of the market means they will lose the huge segment of the market they could have had.
And so they lose both.
Because of the illusion that they could have had the whole thing.
But they believe they can.
And so, in going for the illusion, they sacrifice the opportunity.
Bill Bernbach said:
“If you stand for something you will find some people for you and some people against you.
If you stand for nothing you will find nobody for you and nobody against you.”
In other words, by trying not to have anyone dislike you, you become bland.
Then you lose the people who would have liked you.
And the people you didn’t want to offend, they won’t even notice you.
When Saatchi & Saatchi was the biggest agency in the UK they were very controversial.
They had 4% of the market.
That means they didn’t have 96%.
Should Saatchi & Saatchi have watered down their approach to try to appeal to the other 96%?
They would never have got it, and they would have lost what they did have.
That’s what I love about what Seth Godin wrote.
Real power comes from standing out, creating controversy.
Controversy means you’ll get talked about.
And that polarises people.
By turning off the majority you can turn on the minority.
Which will give you a very sizeable niche.
And 4% of something is better than 100% of nothing.