The first part of this series described the three steps in the process of marketing uniqueness: understanding, promoting, and developing key unique attributes of your business. Part 1 demonstrated the first step, understanding, through the example of a company called “Nest” who has created a unique $250 thermostat that learns your schedule, programs itself, and can be controlled from your phone. It pays for itself by lowering heating and cooling bills up to 20%. Nest is a company that understands and markets its uniqueness.
Part 2 demonstrated the second step, promoting, through the examples of Amazon.com and the niche technology company, Keith Yates Design Group. Since customers’ expectations are being set by their experiences with companies like Amazon, it pays to take a look at how they promote their unique attributes. Keith Yates was an example that showed how a unique personality and reputation can be leveraged directly to create a successful niche business.
In creating part 3, it was difficult to get enough history on niche businesses to demonstrate the third step, developing key unique attributes. For example, while Keith Yates is extremely unique, innovative, and successful, his website has not changed in over 10 years! In that time, he has hosted a major event each year demonstrating new high end audio and video technology developments, completed many “home theaters” costing well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and consistently updated the services he provides. He relies on a more traditional form of social media called word-of-mouth to market his constantly developing uniqueness.
One ultimate example of a company that is constantly developing their uniqueness is Apple. Obviously, they are not a niche technology company, but their homepage is a masterpiece of minimalism and gives an idea of the theoretical ideal.
You can see immediately that Apple has developed the idea of the iPad into a theme “two sizes do all.” The iPad was unique before, but that uniqueness developed and still stayed simple. While competitors have a wide variety of sizes, types, operating systems, Apple has two sizes, big and small, to do everything, period. The same minimalist idea applies to Google’s homepage, but for very different reasons.
Google tends to be more of an engineering driven company so their minimalism is more utilitarian. If you use Google’s services, Google assumes you know what you want to do, no explanation more than a single word is needed. They are developing their uniqueness “behind the scenes” for a more tech savvy audience. Yahoo, by comparison, throws the world at you right away, literally.
Wow, are you dizzy yet? I took this homepage screenshot after I closed the huge Netflix ad that had probably 15 movie titles on it. Marissa Mayer, the CEO, has her work cut out for her. This is what many niche technology websites look like, even the ones I said were good examples of webstores (see the post on May 20th). If a little information is good, more is better. In many companies, this philosophy extends to developing uniqueness since engineers get so excited about their developments, they have to tell the entire world (and often do).
In developing your key unique attributes, try to find a middle path. Apple and Google can be minimalists because they have the attention of their markets. Niche technology companies are the opposite. You might be struggling to get any attention from your customers. One technique is to use simple social media tools to make your customers aware of developments in your niche market, then link these developments to your unique attributes. You can also focus on major technology trends on your website, providing webinars delivered by your experts. If you do this, make sure you record the webinars so they can be viewed later and become part of a knowledge base. You can even require registration for these downloads. Customers do not like providing personal information, but for media like webinars, datasheets, white papers, etc., it is not unreasonable to ask for a minimum of information so your sales team can follow-up later. This also helps you expand your marketing reach for future activities. There are many other ways unique attributes can be developed, so this is just a starting point. In a future post, the idea of “simple social media tools” for niche technology companies will be explored.