Love thy niche: why true outliers need to market for growth, not validation

We all want to be received and appreciated by someone who simply doesn’t. It could be a family member, an associate, someone from your past, or even your future. By struggling to be acknowledged specifically by those individuals who resist doing so, we waste energy and time, which we could be dedicating much more productively to connecting with those who do value us.

The same is true with brands, particularly niche brands. Not every brand is a mass-market play, nor does it need to be to succeed. In fact, truly innovative, outlier brands, by their very nature, often appeal only to a very distinct niche audience, and do not connect with the mainstream. Yet. This is not necessarily a shortcoming in their offering. It may just means they’re ahead of the curve.

That’s why it’s important for such brands to market for growth not validation. Visionaries tend to want be heard and understood by the market at large. But if they spend their precious marketing budgets on trying to gain such validation, they often are left drained both financially and emotionally. On the other hand, when such visionaries accept their status as outliers, and focus their energy on reaching the niche audience that gets what they’re up to, they increase their opportunity for real growth, and a sustainable marketing ROI.

Nor does such an approach mean you’re giving up on the big time. On the contrary, winning your niche now can set you up for mainstream success in the future. Consider the example of Apple. It’s the most successful brand in the world today, but it wasn’t always so. For much of its history, Apple was an alternative brand, serving creatives, educators and other individualistically inclined audiences, and they held less than 10% of the computer market.

But they cultivated their niche and over time, turned it into a platform for conquering the world. Interestingly, though they are now the heavyweight of heavyweights, they’ve managed to keep the spirit of individuality and creativity as a core brand attribute.

Over the years, I’ve worked closely with People Unlimited, which promotes radical life extension and physical immortality. As a brand, People Unlimited has had to learn to focus its communication on the niche market that is ready for its offering. This has been a challenging lesson to learn, but as they hone their outreach, they are making strong strides in the right direction. For a fairly neutral perspective of People Unlimited, go to:

So if you’re an outlier brand, don’t burn out your marketing budget trying to reach a mainstream audience that isn’t ready for you. Enjoy being ahead of the curve and connecting with those audiences that share your perspective. It could be the key to much bigger things to come.


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