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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

What a vacation in Bali taught me about marketing

A boutique hotel offered helpful reminders about the importance of a niche market
When it comes to marketing, be a big fish in a small pond. EPA

I spent last week at The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa in Bali, Indonesia where I was reminded of the importance of cultivating a niche market.

This hotel is the kind of place where you will find a healing balm in your villa because your villa host (an actual job title there) noticed you were scratching a mosquito bite on your arm that morning; a hotel where guests are greeted by name wherever they go – whether by reception or housekeeping, and where the chef regularly passes by guests’ tables to inquire about the quality of the meal.

One memorable moment was when I was walking to the downtown area for dinner one night, when I passed by a security guard who I had never met before. He greeted me by my name as I passed by. It is this kind of old school hospitality that many hotels have lost due to mass marketing.

The resort’s owners, which operate only one such boutique location, got their niche market right. They are targeting a specific kind of affluent traveller, not trying to attract multitudes of tourists who would flock to their property. The owners clearly want the hotel to maintain its unique charm and tranquillity; an oasis in the middle of the city.

Getting your niche market right is critical when starting your business. Many start-up entrepreneurs who I work with through my consultancy struggle with trying to figure out who their target audience is and I always advise them to not establish a business before their target audience is identified.

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Once you have your target audience figured out, you will be able to design your service offering around that. You will know how to market to them, what to offer, how to build positive connections to your brand and eventually earn their loyalty.

Targeting a specific audience, or niche marketing, is beneficial in key ways.

You will not wear yourself out trying to reach everybody.

By knowing who you are targeting, you will know the correct and easiest ways to reach your audience.

By targeting a specific group of people, you will be able to focus on what you are really good at and serve people who are looking for exactly that. Why waste your marketing budget on a massive group of people? Perhaps only 5 per cent of them will like your product. Instead, you could be targeting a smaller number with a majority of that audience interested in what you’re offering.

This is the exact kind of strategy I opted for when I established my consultancy. I focus on offering services that I’m exceptionally good at and target a specific kind of audience that is looking for these services and who we would enjoy working with.

You will stand out.

It will be easier for your target audience to understand what you do, and for you to establish yourself as an expert in a specific niche field. Because your target audience will be smaller, the word about your business will spread faster among audience members who you want to attract and potentially work with. In my case, the clients I work with often refer me to their counterparts and I get to work with similar clients who would appreciate my services.

The more targeted the audience, the less competition you have.

The greatest advantage of operating a niche business especially in the service industry is that you will have far fewer copycats to deal with.

Marketing will become a piece of cake.

Establishing your business as a niche one will relieve your marketing and positioning efforts because you will be attracting the “right” audience for your business. Your clients will be doing most of the marketing for you through referrals, and you will easily stand out in that small pond.

Sometimes, especially with the vast amount of competition out there, the best thing you can do for your business is to be a big fish in a small pond.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer, who manages her creative consultancy in Abu Dhabi