Home > Business and Strategy, Marketing > Here’s how to niche

Here’s how to niche

Many business owners are reluctant to select a niche to focus on, fearing that it will reduce their potential client base, and result in less sales.  Last week, while on holiday, I witnessed first-hand a company using a very specific niche to their advantage, and really making it work.  So how did they do it?

We decided to take the children to Auckland for a night to use a credit that was about to expire on our travel club membership.  We were looking for a good deal for a family and the best one we could find was at Jet Park Airport Hotel in Mangere.  The main reason we chose it was that it offered free parking, which made it more cost-effective for us than some others, plus we could get a free shuttle to and from the airport – a novelty for the children.

Jet Park Hotel have chosen the domestic air traveler as their niche market.  Everything in the hotel and their packages is set up for this.  Everyone staying there is entitled to a shuttle both to and from the airport and if you stay one night or more, you can park on their property for up to 14 days!  The hotel is not situated as close to the airport as many others, but is in a mixed area of industrial and residential properties.  It is not a particularly salubrious area, but Jet Park have developed a competitive advantage that allows their strategy to work – they have used the lower cost of land at their location to allow the free parking benefit for all their customers.  The hotel is set back off the road down a long driveway, and alongside it runs empty fields they have turned into carparking.

Given the cost of parking your vehicle anywhere else close to the airport, the free parking is a massive advantage to domestic travelers with vehicles and also for those attending conferences and training in the rooms they have available for businesses.  Niching in this way allows the hotel to target everything they do.  They market directly to national air travelers.  The reception staff clarify at check-in when you need a wake-up call for your flight, and when you need to book the shuttle.  There’s some other nice touches too, like a small indoor and outdoor play area for younger children, a pool to cool off in over summer, a small library if you want to borrow a book, and complimentary fruit and mints throughout the hotel.

The interesting thing is that we chose the hotel even though we were not air travelers.  The free parking made it a good deal for us, and we used the shuttle as a bonus activity with our children.  We went to the airport viewing lounge and watched some international flights arrive and depart, and had a snack at the food halls.  I’m sure we are not the only ones outside their targeted niche that choose that hotel because the benefits are valued by others, as well as the niche.

Of course the Jet Park won’t suit everyone.  Some travelers will prefer to be on the airport campus, and others will prefer to stay in the central city or other parts of the city.  But no hotel will suit everyone.  By selecting a niche and serving that niche very well, the Jet Park Hotel has made its marketing activities easier to select and target, as well as how it trains its staff, sets up the hotel, manages add-ons etc.  While we were there the hotel appeared to be very busy, and the award-winning restaurant seemed well patronized.  The shuttle was non-stop collecting and dropping passengers to and from the airport.

So how can you apply this idea of serving a niche to your own business?  Can you break down your customers or target market and serve one or two niches really well?  Do you do that already?  Are you ‘dominating’ that niche? How does this streamline your business activities like marketing, customer service, product and service development and staff training?  How do the services and add-ons you offer for your niche benefit others and grow your business?

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