Last week a picture of a fountain centerpiece called “Colonel Crackers” from the opening of a world entrepreneurial crowd-funding festival in Jacksonville, Florida called One Spark made me think of one of the biggest marketing mistakes I see.
The centerpiece, a giant, over-sized replica of a Goldfish Cracker swimming in a fountain inspires the question…
Which is better?
To be a big fish in a little pond or little fish in a big pond?
It’s an age-old question, yet many businesses get it wrong. And because of this, they constantly struggle to establish authority in their marketplace. They get left behind and never become important or stand out in their consumer’s mind. Instead, they remain just another choice among many.
To examine this question further, let’s take a look at One Spark.
Described as a modern day world’s fair, One Spark gave 610 entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their ideas to over 250,000 people.
During the five day festival, they got to show people what they were about and why people should be interested in their business ideas. Participants (called “creators”) competed for a share of a crowd fund, the winners determined by the attendees who voted for their favorite entrepreneurial ideas. The event also gave entrepreneurs the chance to meet capital investors.
One Spark reduced the size of the pond for entrepreneurs, giving them the opportunity to be a “big fish” and put their ideas in front of a relatively small pond of consumers who were already interested in hearing about new ideas.
However, the businesses that were the most successful at capturing votes at One Spark narrowed this pond down even further. For example, the owners of WaZINIT, an app that allows you to quickly scan products and compare ingredients against any of those that you are trying to avoid, focused on talking to people who had food allergies or who were on a strict diet.
You see, often I see people defining their market in too broad and too big of terms. At One Spark, the entrepreneurs who went after the entire 250,000 ended up among the bottom vote-getters.
Of course, we’ve talked in great length how that can impact your marketing. You want a market small enough that the resources you can commit to will give you a big impact.
But, making yourself a big fish in a small pond can have an impact beyond your marketing.
As displayed by One Spark, being the big fish can give you clout and status. In this case, the winners, the ones who did this the best, got in the spotlight on stage. They received extra media coverage. And because they are the biggest fish of the One Spark “pond” –based on peer voting, their status rose. People that were at One Spark know these are the businesses to check out. And people who see the media about the winners will also know they are businesses worth checking out.
In your own business, you can make yourself the big fish in the small pond in several ways.
1) Differentiate. You have to stand out from the crowd. Our 2014 Marketer of the Year, Titanium Member Shawn Buck, narrowed the focus of his marketing business to doing only customized, done-for-you newsletters for businesses. By specializing his company The Newsletter Pro is THE authority on customized, done-for0-you newsletter. Essentially he made himself a big fish so much so that in less than 2 years his company went from being him and his wife working with a few small businesses, to having over 30 employees and mailing hundreds of thousands of newsletter each month!
2) Make your market smaller. You have to find ways to make your pond smaller. (Tweet this!) One way to do this is to establish your business or move your business to a secondary town rather than a major city. For example, a chiropractor in Loganville, Georgia with a population of approximately 10,000 people will find it much easier and less expensive to build clout and authority than a chiropractor in Atlanta, Georgia with a population of 443,775.
3) “Extreme Niching.” Another way to make your pond smaller is to narrow your niche. For instance, Albany Saab Shop specializes in repairs and sales of used Saab (a brand no longer making new cars.) Their “extreme niching” has not just made them the go-to place for much of the east coast Saab owners but as Saab dealerships are no longer in existence, they recently had to post on their website that there were certain days they could no longer accept new clients because they are too busy.
Or take GKIC Diamond Member Dr. Donna Galante who specializes in creating amazing smiles using Invisalign™. Instead of being a general orthodontist and “doing everything” she chose a specific niche and become so successful that she now has created an info-marketing business that teaches others in her profession how to grow their practice.
Being a big fish in a small pond costs less in marketing and can even have lower taxes, insurance etc. if in a secondary town. Plus, when you make yourself a big fish, you have more authority and your importance in your community is greater.
Have you made yourself into a big fish or made your pond smaller? What were your results? Share your story in the comments.
P.S.– Get “The 10 Rules to Transforming Your Small Business into an Infinitely More Powerful Direct Response Marketing Business” for FREE. Click here to claim your customer-getting, sales-boosting tactics.