Going niche

No product could serve everyone (well except water and electricity). Minimum viable audience (MVA) is the way of survival. It’s about time for hospitality companies to adopt a laser-cut niche product (and marketing) strategy.

American Express GBT (Global Business Travel) is a good example. They are a credit card company focusing solely on businesses. They just launched a service called “Rest Assured Solution”. It’s an online travel booking platform for business travellers. Their research shows that some of business travellers make bookings outside the company’s policy because they can find cheaper rates out there. As a result, GBT incorporates this rate guarantee feature in this service.

Who are your minimum viable audience?

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*Credit: I took the minimum viable audience from Seth Godin – my (book) marketing mentor.

Your product is not for everyone

Do you believe in the above statement – your product is not for everyone? If you do, how do you market your product? If you are using one of the mass marketing tactics, you are trying to sell the product to everyone. It would be quite expensive, wouldn’t it?

The competition out there is super fierce. Every industry is super crowded. The easiest marketing tactic for us all is to compete on price. Discounts are everywhere. I remember that I was excited to see a 70% OFF campaign 10 years ago. Now, it’s pretty normal to see something like half price or 70% OFF. It’s not normal anymore.

How to compete then. Enter a concept introduced by Seth Godin – “the Minimum Viable Audience”. Your product is not for everyone. You are not selling a universal remote control. You are solving a specific problem for a specific group of customers. You just need to ensure that 1) that group is big enough to sustain your business, and 2) you are clear on the uniqueness of your product on how it could change your customer’s life.

The good news is all customers want the same things. They want one of these – they want to become healthier, happier, wealthier, less stressed, and to increase their social status. Being remarkable in delivering something that achieves one or more of the above outcomes, you will be very successful.

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Create your ecosystem

Why do we have to care about Facebook, Online Travel Agents (OTAs e.g. Expedia), or deal websites so much? We have to use them to promote our products. I paid a lot of money to use their services. And, the answer is they have audience.

Their business model is that they attract people to come their way with free services. They hook those customers in using subscriptions. They entertain their audience with content and shopping-centre-liked service (OTAs). We pay them to reach their audience. Why don’t we create our own audience then?

Start small. You can create an ‘ecosystem’ or a ‘community’ using either the subscription model or creating a Facebook group. Then, you need to think about how to entertain them. Once you have your own audience, you can expect better conversion rates. This is because they are your audience. They know you. They read your content.

It’s a long term investment. And, you should start now. Start small.

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Building a brand with no budget

I work in marketing but I don’t have a branding budget. We have been talking about the importance of building a brand every year but nothing solid happens. In fairness, building a brand is difficult, time-consuming, and could be very expensive. It’s a long term investment that you may not see favorable results, in a short term, or at all. I gave up about fighting for branding a few years ago.

However, I have connected a few issues we are experiencing this year with the lack of brand awareness. So, I cannot give up if I want the company to be successful. I highlighted 2 points to the company about the important of having (at minimum) a positive brand awareness. Firstly, a clear and publicly known, positive brand positioning would justify a premium price. And, secondly, it would help increase our conversion rates.

The bigger question is – how can we do the brand work if we don’t have a dedicated budget? My answer is in Seth Godin’s Minimum Viable Audience (MVA) concept. It’s not possible to build a brand for the universe (the whole country or region). It would be super expensive and would take about 200 years. But, creating an ecosystem with the right groups of customers in there, it may be possible. At the end of the day, no product could server everyone. It’s a formula for being an average. And, that is what I am doing. I am pushing for an ecosystem and only invite the customers who we think we could offer them a holiday solution.

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Don’t be everything to everyone

The one principle in marketing that I learn in my career is that we cannot be everything to everyone. It’s a formula for mediocrity which will turn you to complacency. It is not possible that you could have a product or a marketing campaign that work or suit everyone. It’s like you try to cook a Thai dish for all nationalities. The result? A mediocre Thai dish that is not tasty or spicy enough for Thais, that is not a true traditional dish for Westerners.

What you need to think about is what type audience who would benefit from your offer, solution or product. You then design a product to suit them. It will increase your focus, maximise your marketing spend, and have a message that is relevant to that particular group.

Seth Godin call this concept Minimum Viable Audience – the audience that is big enough for you to be profitable. Find them, create an ecosystem for them, and nurture them with valuable content and solution.

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