Cocker Spaniels and the Long Tail

I was in the supermarket the other day having been sent there for sushi by my six-year old when, not for the first time, I was amazed by the sheer variety of magazines on display. One that jumped out at me was Total Carp – that’s not a misspelling; it’s apparently “The UK’s Biggest Selling Carp Magazine”. It looked familiar. I am sure Total Carp has been around since I first realised I had no interest in carp. My children use the phrase euphemistically i.e. “that’s total carp” to mean something else of course, and to annoy their Mother.

There are people who only fish for carp. No other fish. They do not want a broad-based fishing magazine. They want one on carp.

This is a dream for marketers. Because the greater precision with which you can define your target market, the more precisely you can meet their needs. And you know what they say – “the easiest way to get rich is to find out what people want, and give it to them.”

People have always had niche interests. But the ability to identify these niches and fulfil their immediate needs and wants, and ones they never knew they had, drives demand. It creates demand.

The critical tool for a lot of this niche identification and exploitation (that’s not a bad word…people are not forced to buy Total Carp) is the internet. On the internet, people tell you what they need. They put it into Google. And Yahoo and Bing.

What this means is you can access the long tail – the part of the curve that represents wants and needs that relatively few people have. The key word is relatively. I’ll take as my market 0.01% of the English speaking world any day.

These niches, or non-mass market, were too difficult to get to with any scale in the old days when marketing was expensive – adverts, direct mail etc, etc. Now that marketing is cheap, you can measure your return-on-investment quickly and accurately. Once you identify a niche, you have a real opportunity.

You don’t have to go head-to-head with International Megacorp in the mass market – you can get to the places that International Megacorp cannot get to, because they need markets of a minimum sizes to justify their expensive entry strategies.

You can avoid the mass markets. In fact, you should avoid the mass markets.

Type Google keywords tool into Google, click on the top link, and have a play. If your passion is cocker spaniel grooming you can see how many people are searching for this (today, the stats are 1,000 per month in the UK and 6,600 per month globally). Now I dare say no one is going to travel much more than 20 miles to get their cocker spaniel groomed at your fancy salon. So, for those that are further away, maybe you can offer something of value. A guide; a book; a video; a newsletter. Whatever cocker spaniel owners want – if this is your thing you probably know. Or you could do some market research. Reach out to them. Give them some real value, for free. Start a relationship. There’s 80,000 of them declaring their interest per year. And that’s just for cocker spaniel grooming. Never mind training, breeding, showing, food supplements….

Maybe in time you will have the biggest cocker spaniel-related mail order business on earth. Why not? Someone has to do it. 80,000 people are looking for you to make the move. And then there’s borzoi, afghan, pug…

You can find out what these people want and you can give it to them and they will make you rich. They say money isn’t everything, but as Sophie Tucker said “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better.” If you don’t like the word rich, try replacing it with free to do as I choose with my time. How does that sound?


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2 Responses to Cocker Spaniels and the Long Tail

  1. Schnurloses Telefon August 21, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    the precious information you provided do help our team’s research for my group, thanks.

  2. Email Form August 24, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    hey man I like it. I’m ready to write more articles and put your ideas to the test. After all, we always have something new to learn and being humble, I came here to learn. Bookmarked.

    – John

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