Anne Holland

SherpaBlog: Nano-Niche Marketing: How to Beat the Recession (And Your Competition) More Easily

October 6th, 2008

No matter how difficult marketing is in your industry right now, folks in real estate probably have it harder. So, I figured: Why not research what’s working in real estate and see if we can apply it elsewhere?

Turns out the secret weapon is what I call “nano-niche” marketing.

Here’s a real-life example from Taos, New Mexico, where competition in the real estate market is cutthroat. Roughly 250 agents sell the same types of properties to the same types of customers. However, John Kejr of Dreamcatcher Real Estate has a growing business with an almost unassailable competitive advantage. In fact, his business is so strong, he’s taken it national. He’s partnering with realtors in several other states.

How? Nano-niche marketing.

Over the past three years, as the real estate business has been tanking, John’s built a blog with an enviable SERP, an opt-in email list of would-be customers, and a growing number of sales by specializing in just one particular type of architecture known as Earthships. He fell into it. Other realtors weren’t sure how to market a particular Earthship in Taos. John thought he’d take a shot with one, and then the business grew from there.

The key to this story is NOT that everyone should go out and market Earthships. I’ve met other realtors who’ve tried this tactic successfully with other nano-niches. There’s a guy who runs a tour bus for house hunters seeking mid-century modern foreclosures. There’s a woman who represents only those homes that were made in the 1960s by a particular architect with a cult following. Both have extensive email lists of would-be customers from around the world, and both are successful even in a very down economy.

How can you do nano-marketing if your brand is designed to be sold to a wide audience? It’s more work for the marketing team but often far less investment in media buys. So, you may spend a bit more on salary, but a lot less on ads. That’s because you’re relying on content, blogs, search optimization, and reaching out to extremely small (but ripe for the plucking) lists and media outlets.

Divide your marketplace into nano-niches. Only do two or three to start as a test. (I wouldn’t test just one because it might be the fluke niche that isn’t worth the work. You need to try several to discover what makes a winning niche. Then apply that lesson to additional niche launches.) Start a blog and/or a microsite for each. Make sure it’s SEO-ed like crazy by using keywords in the URL, title, headlines, image tags, etc. Add content interesting enough to be worthy of links, and then go out and solicit them. Plus, be sure to have an email opt-in, an RSS feed, and even a free downloadable PDF on the topic with a lead-gen form in front of it.

And then work that niche. Get to know that audience. Serve them religiously and relentlessly. Never send the broad marketing message. Dedicate your marketing to the nano. And the nano will blossom.

Have you tested a nano campaign for your brand? Let us know by posting a comment below. Thanks!

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