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Business Operations

Reach out to your niche market

October 11, 2010
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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to notice two businesses that made exemplary strides towards conquering their niche market. I thought I would share their stories to demonstrate how easy and important it is to reach out and connect with your target demographic.

First, you should know the city where I live (Watertown, NY) is located near a large military base. With over 20,000 military and civilian employees, Fort Drum is by far the largest employer in Northern NY. In 2007, its payroll exceeded $950,000,000 in total — so you can imagine how local businesses are eager to reach out to the troops living just around the corner.

Supporting the military is not a novel concept, nor is offering a discount on services or goods in order to earn their business. Drive around Watertown, a city of about 27,000, and you’re bound to notice the abundance of flags and “We support our troops” stickers as well as the oh-so-common “10% off with Military ID” signs.

But one business’s promotion stood out from the rest. A local auto accessory business is offering to store a deployed soldier’s vehicle for free — so long as the soldier purchases a minimum amount of services and vehicle accessories. The ad points out the car will be ready when the soldier returns — all shined up and ready to go.

This, my friends, is a perfect example of identifying your target customer and also a specific need your business can fulfill. Knowing the soldier faces significant fees to store his vehicle, and knowing they have a large garage, this auto accessory shop has found a way to attract business beyond the typical 10 percent discount. How many soldiers do you think suddenly wanted a new spoiler and some window tinting before they took off for Iraq?

Andrew Ryder, co-owner of a few Shur-Kleen carwashes in Washington State, has found a similar way to capitalize on his location in Fort Lewis, WA. Through a contact he has at an on-base vehicle storage location, he places a coupon for a free carwash on the windshield of cars stored there. When the soldier returns from deployment, their first visit is often to Ryder’s carwash.

My second experience with excellent marketing happened at my gym in the area where they display flyers and brochures for local businesses. Most of these brochures are for spas and tanning salons, but this week there were two new flyers that caught my eye. Next to the aerobics schedule were menu cards from two local Italian restaurants that are owned by the same family.

“Try our new heart-healthy menu,” it said. The flyer listed some delicious-sounding dishes that were low in calories and fat. A starburst at the top of the menu said the restaurant gave a 10 percent discount to customers who showed their gym membership card.

So, the gym and the restaurant owners have found a mutual customer: The healthy consumer. The spas and tanning salons have also identified a mutual customer: The woman (or man) that wants to look and feel good.

You know who else wants to look and feel good? Carwash customers. I’m hoping that when I go to the gym next week (after first stopping at my favorite Italian restaurant) there’s a new flyer next to the aerobics schedule — this time, a carwash special. After months on an all-salt diet, its time my car got healthy, too!

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