Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What is an "Anti-Niche" Website?

That's what I'm hear to answer for you today. Not only what it is, but why and how this happens. I found a blogpost Eric Thiegs wrote that led me to the deliberately non-niched website (that's Eric enjoying his daughter in the picture). He gave me a gracious, generous interview...check out how two guys instinctively responded to the changes in the market reflecting the problems with Niche Marketing.

Sometimes need, fortune, and brilliance converge

That’s exactly what happened for Eric and Joe, the founders of stageoflife.com. I had the opportunity to interview Eric after reading a blog post he wrote about being an Anti-Niche website. As my experience, research, and intuition all point at the ongoing need to discover marketing success beyond niche marketing in the New Economy, I was excited to speak to Eric by phone.

The site, StageOfLife.com, came into being based on the experience of Eric’s wife trying to conduct and create her own meta-searches. This was shortly followed by Eric hearing how other companies wanted meta-lists of potential costumers—and were willing to pay handsomely for them but they didn’t exist at this point—along with the decision to not make their brain-child website small, “niched” silos. Instead, the founders have them open to curiosity and potential investigation for individuals in specific stages of life with the ability to look at other transitions "sub-sites".

The website and their approach is impressive; I was surprised how long I spent simply visiting different channels. I went way over my “budgeted” time to check out the site before our call. Eric recognized a couple of important factors; this realization is one many Start-Ups and service-oriented businesses can use.

“I told Joe we’re going to spend all of this time to the niche, but we find out that college [age group] is just crazy and we should’ve put our resources in a different category. We’re going to be fighting for market share, it makes sense to do only one site.” Their decision to not chose a single age-group or life transition has created interesting affects. “It’s hard to [write] SEO this broad” Eric revealed honestly.

In the same vein, the visual identity of the site was a challenge. Finding images that would communicate across ages and stages without being inaccessible for any given age group was a hurdle. They tapped into custom artwork that reflects another change in taste that’s also at the beginning stages of becoming a wave: custom artwork rather than custom photographs.

The website reflects the newest, quietest trends in marketing. Best of all, this reflection is created for the best reasons: the need of the product, market and vision for the website. It’s not an artificial decision created to establish a niche or carve out one more sliver of marketing communication in a saturated arena. The art, the cross-transition design and meta-information approach create an amazing opportunity for website guests because they are a perfect match for the objective.

The real message of not immediately picking a niche market is to be true to your mission, your objective, and your reason for being in business. As a new business, choosing a niche too soon may very well be a waste of time and money.

Many new businesses discover they have a website, graphics and printed materials that end up not being a match for the actual market. Many business coaches will tell you that you have to create these things to succeed. I’m here to tell you that times have changed: niche marketing it not the foundational truth it used to be. Niche Marketing is part of the landscape, not the map. StageOfLife.com demonstrates this change beautifully.

And others, like Eric and Joe, have noticed that being too specific too soon is not always a recipe for success. Stay tuned! More interviews highlighting success apart from the message of Niche Marketing are headed your way.

Wishing you Success & Heart,

Heidi Sue Roth

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