During this Episode of the Custom Apparel Startups Podcast, we’ll explain what a niche market is, how to identify ones that might be right for your business AND what that niche might do for your pocketbook.
Once you’re done listening to this podcast and have identified the niche (s) you want to market to, drop us a line so we can review it with you! Send to [email protected].
Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, your best source for information, news, tips and tricks to get you off the ground running, and earn success with your custom apparel decorating business. So, get ready to soak up some knowledge!
Now, here are your hosts, Mark and Marc!
Mark S: Hey, everyone! Welcome to episode 59 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast. My name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And this is Marc Vila, from Colman and Company. Today, we’re here to talk about how to make more money in custom tees, and it’s really about choosing the right niche.
Mark S: Right, or choosing the right “niche,” depending on how bourgeoisie you want to be.
Marc V: Okay!
Mark S: Yeah. Don’t use the 80s words.
Marc V: Okay. I’m going to try to find some sort of “how to pronounce” YouTube video. I might do that while you’re talking, and I’m not paying attention.
Mark S: Please do! So, choosing the right niche is something that is really a big deal. By the way, I was going to say something about this being, the podcast is now 59 episodes old. But honestly, the podcast is forgetting things at this point, and we just moved on. Okay?
We want to talk about picking the right niche. We want to start, because niche is kind of a word that marketing people throw around all of the time. It’s not a word that people define very often. So, I’m going to let Marc Vila, who is a niche expert, kind of talk a little bit about what a niche market is, and then we’ll talk about why that’s going to be a big deal for your business.
Marc V: Oftentimes, when I want to find the definition of something, I do the simple thing, and I go to Google first. And I think it’s a good idea for you guys to do this, too. Just kind of search “what’s a niche market?” “What are niche markets?” Things like that.
The first thing that I searched earlier today; “a niche market is a subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features, and satisfying specific market needs, as well as a price range, production quality and demographic that it is intended to impact.”
That is a very technical term of what does that mean. So, a niche market is a specific group of customers you’re going to go after, to sell to.
Mark S: And if you’re already in business, you probably already have niche markets that you deal with, without kind of strategizing what you’re going after.
Marc V: Yeah. A lot of small business owners, especially in custom apparel, accidentally fall into some, just because you get one customer, and then you get three or five that are all in this same group. Maybe it’s fishermen. You started doing one fishing group. You started making all of their fishing shirts and caps and jackets, and different things like that. The next thing you know, you’re in with a local dock, and you’re making things for their store.
All of a sudden, you have this niche market, that you’re into kind of fishing/boating people custom apparel.
Mark S: Or maybe you got into the bling business because you already had your own kind of built-in personal niche that’s cheerleading or dance. Maybe you are a mom with two girls in middle school or high school, and they dance and they do cheer. And you got tired of spending $35 on your cheer mom shirt, and you decided you would make that yourself, and charge other people $35 for that shirt.
Marc V: Yeah. And niche marketing can be considered, like if you envision a pyramid that is upside down. The top part is really, really wide, and the bottom part is an infinitely small point. Okay?
So, your first niche market are probably things on Earth. It might be dogs or humans, or you might make bird apparel. I don’t know what you do.
Mark S: Don’t judge. We’re not here to judge!
Marc V: That’s like the biggest thing, is “I sell human shirts. I don’t do any animal stuff. I do human shirts.”
Mark S: And you are that person, and you’re stuck in that way, if one of us asks you “So, who do you want to sell your clothes to? Who do you want to sell your custom t-shirts to?” “Everybody! Humans! All humans will want to buy my product!”
Marc V: So then, you start to narrow these things down. And as you narrow them down, the number of people; so humans, eight billion. Actually, just humans in my county. Okay, two million. Well, I really want to focus on ladies apparel. One million.
Well now, actually, youth ladies is kind of a thing. I kind of want to focus on the parents who want to buy stuff for their teenagers. Okay, teenage apparel, but you want to focus on parents who have some money to spend on them. Alright, we’re breaking down a bit.
Mark S: I hope you guys are taking notes, but this is like the best lesson in narrowing stuff down, because that’s exactly what happens.
Marc V: Yeah. Then, you think about it that way. It doesn’t matter what we started with. Then, you say “Why was I thinking about women’s youth apparel, with parents who can afford to buy them really nice things? Why was I thinking about that?” So, it’s an exercise.
Because you want to, well, why were you even thinking that? What was the point? Just because you like the way that apparel looks? You like that fashion? Okay, that’s a good enough reason.
So, how are you going to sell to any of those people? Now, you start breaking it down to “Okay, well, I could do something with their interests. What if I did, like for high school kids, what if I was doing like custom band, custom cheerleading, custom for all girls-focused apparel, in girls’ cuts?”
Because what happens is, “I see an issue in my area. When I pick up my kid from school, I see all of the girls are wearing the squared box tees, like the guys are.”
Mark S: And basketball shorts.
Marc V: Yeah, and they’re tying them up on the bottom, or they’re cutting the sleeves off. Why? Because they don’t like that fit. It’s not fashionable for them. “What if I made fashionable apparel? What if the band girls had fashionable band gear?”
Now, you’ve just made a super ultra-niche right there. High school band girls who want fashionable apparel.
Mark S: That’s cool. I do want to talk about different ways to arrive at a good niche. Then, how to look at whether or not that is a good niche, based on if they have money to spend, if there’s a lot of interest in the area.
So, I just want to establish that we’ve figured out what a niche market is. A niche market is something less than the entire world. Right? It’s something that is interest or geographically based. It might be an activity. It could be an area. It could be a variety of things, as long as you are dealing with a smaller set of people.
Marc V: Yeah. It could be financially based, too. You could be “I just want to sell cheap t-shirts that are really cheap in my area, because everyone is expensive. My niche is going to be that.”
So, it could be the price point of your apparel. It could be the group of people that you’re working with. Or it could be some sort of combination of these things.
Mark S: So, that is finding your niche, based on what you want to do and what you want to sell. You’ve seen an issue with local girls’ apparel, and you want to fix that issue or provide a solution. Or you are already at a small unusual denomination at church, that is not a served marketplace. That’s part of your passion. So, that’s a niche market that you want to go after, because that’s built in.
You have found something that you’re interested in, and you are going to go after that. You’re going to make clothes for that.
The reason that you want to do that is because the smaller the niche market is, the more directed your efforts are, the more profitable that you can sell something.
Marc V: That leads right into, then, why do you want a niche?
Mark S: Why do you want a niche? Because Italian sportscars are fast! Is that what we’re talking about? Is that the niche?
Marc V: No, no. I thought it was an Indian diner.
Mark S: Okay, it could be a local Indian restaurant. I like that.
Marc V: [inaudible 09:17] Medium spicy.
Mark S: Too much! I’m going to use an example from our DTG veteran, Don Copeland. Okay? Don used to use this example in talking about direct-to-garment printed shirts. He’d say let’s say you’re going to print a shirt that says “Ford” on it. Right? Your audience then, your niche market is everyone that owns a Ford or has ever owned a Ford, or is interested in Ford.
You might be able to sell that for $10 or $12, because it’s generic. It’s everywhere.
Marc V: It’s just a Ford t-shirt.
Mark S: Now, let’s say that you made a shirt about Ford Mustangs. Okay, so now you’ve got a subset of Ford. It’s a niche market. There are a lot of Mustang owners. Okay? So, you might get $15, $17 per shirt that’s all about Mustangs.
Marc V: Yeah, but you can still get a Mustang shirt anywhere.
Mark S: That’s true. Now, what if you specialized in a time period? Like muscle car Mustangs of the late 60s? Okay, so now you’ve got a little bit higher value, because it’s a smaller niche market.
Now, what if you go to a car show, and you take a picture of that guy’s Mustang? He’s going to pay $30 or $40 for a shirt, with a picture of him and his car on it.
That’s kind of it. The pros and cons; as you find a market with fewer people to sell to, then the price that you can charge for serving that market goes up. So, it becomes more profitable.
That’s kind of why to have a niche market. It allows you to make more money on every shirt. It allows you to focus your time and creative effort, if you’re doing that. It also allows you to focus your marketing/advertising activities.
Marc V: The question that gets asked here is “Why do I get to charge more money for that? What makes it worth more money?”
It’s really because a lot less people are focusing. You’re creating – there’s supply and demand. When you take the time to focus on a very, very specific market in apparel, there are significantly – the smaller, the tighter that niche you get down to, the closer you get toward the bottom of that triangle, the less apparel companies are focusing on it.
And the less likely, or less easy – it’s either how hard it’s going to be for somebody to find that, or how many people are actually going to be advertising or selling to this community?
Mark S: Yeah. I mean, I can go to almost any Target in the country, and find a football t-shirt. I can go to a lot of stores, and find a local college football t-shirt. To get a football t-shirt for a local high school is a little bit harder. To get a local t-shirt, with a local high school and a kid’s name on it, is even harder.
So, like Marc said, the value goes up as kind of scarcity goes up.
Marc V: Yep, that’s the thing. With how many people at that car show, maybe there’s not necessarily t-shirt vendors there, per se. Maybe there is. I don’t know. But there’s a lot of people there, wearing Mustang t-shirts. Right? I mean, there’s a lot.
All of my best friends are all Mustang fanatics.
Mark S: See? And I just picked that one at random!
Marc V: They all are. I don’t own one, nor have I. I do love them, though, because I know so much about them. All of my best friends are into them. Two of them work at a Mustang parts place.
But talking about that, when you go to a car show, how many people are walking around with a t-shirt of their car on it? You know?
One of my friends, I took his car, and then I got it illustrated. So, he actually has a cartoon version.
Mark S: Nice! Of his car!
Marc V: Of his car, on a t-shirt! Nobody has that. Right? So, that is something where it’s like what if you have the talent and ability to do that, or you could figure out how to do that well?
“Check out these pictures. What I do is I take your car, get it cartoonized. We can put whatever we want on the hood.” This guy took a picture of his face, and put it on the hood. Nobody else is selling that. So, that’s why that shirt is $40. If you want it, it’s a $40 shirt. “That’s a lot!” “I know, but I’m the only one who does this, and it took me a lot of time to figure out how to do it.”
Mark S: “And I’m going to go make that myself.”
Marc V: Yeah. “I’m going to make it. It’s going to take a lot of time to do it, but it’s worth the money. And it’s cool, because you’re going to be the only guy here with that shirt on.”
Mark S: Now, you don’t have to address a niche down that small, but you guys get the idea. You’re looking for, if it’s in your personal life, you’re kind of looking for these built-in preferences or built-in interests that you might have. It could be geographic. It could be an activity that you follow.
Having said all of that, that does not mean that that niche that you love is going to be profitable. I want to talk about this from kind of like an online business perspective. And that is, if I’m going to sell online only, it’s going to be more of a challenge to find that one guy, that you want to put a picture of his Mustang on his shirt.
Because you don’t know that guy. You’re not going to that show. You’re not attending those events locally, to build a presence in that market, and be able to sell it.
So, you could go online and say, maybe you advertise “Hey, I’ll put your Mustang picture on a shirt for you,” and that’s one. That may not be the most profitable activity, at that point. Okay?
Another way that you could look at finding and addressing a niche, and figuring out whether or not it’s profitable, if you’re going online, is to just start with a general category. Let’s say that of all of the markets in the world; there are things like health care, there’s personal services, there’s automotive, there’s farming.
Marc V: There’s sports.
Mark S: There’s sports. There’s anything like that. Maybe health care is one of the markets you want to check out, but that’s not a small enough niche. Under health care, it may be that you want to narrow it down to nurses. Then, under nurses, maybe it’s just geriatric nurses or memory care nurses.
So, now the challenge is to figure out, how can I access that niche? Is it very active? Is it an easy group to get in touch with? How do I advertise to them?
The same thing if it’s, let’s say your niche is high school sports, but you really want to set yourself apart. So, maybe you’re not after the regular football. Maybe you’re after American high school sportsmen that play rugby or lacrosse, or volleyball, or girls softball, or something that’s not one of the typical markets that you think of, when you think of high school sports.
So, what do you do to find out whether or not that micro-niche market is a good one? What I do is I go on Facebook, and I look for groups that have to do with that niche market, and then see how active they are. If you’ve got a Facebook account and you go on Facebook right now, you can see, is there a group that deals with veterinary nurses? Is that a category that you can get to?
Are there high school lacrosse Facebook groups around the country, that have a huge number of members, that get a lot of posts? What other kind of social activities do you see out there in the marketplace, that makes you think that people are so enthusiastic about this niche, that they’re going to buy shirts?
Marc V: And really, that last sentence there is a bit of summing it up a bit. Is it going to be people who are going to spend money? And are they going to buy shirts? You have to consider all of these things.
Before, when Mark and I were kind of chatting about this, one thing that popped in my head was if you are really interested in yard sales and swap meets and flea markets, and things like that, and you actually are part of like a little Facebook group or community that are all people who go to these things, and share information about them. They’re not going to ever spend anything. They’re going to haggle over a nickel. Right?
If something costs ten cents on the table, they’re going to see if they can get it for a nickel. Are you going to actually be able to sell really profitable – are they going to buy a $30 t-shirt? No.
Mark S: Right. Probably not.
Marc V: Everything on their back, they got at a flea market, for a dollar. They’re deal-seekers. So, I probably would not want to attempt to sell any sort of extremely profitable high-end niche to those folks.
However, when you mentioned like the sports, or we talked about the Mustangs, or motorcycle enthusiasts or dog enthusiasts, all of these things, think about the cost of the hobby, and the income – the amount of money they’d be willing to spend on the hobby, the amount of income they have to make in general, to be able to afford to have that hobby.
All of these things together are going to help determine, “Am I going to be able to reach a group of people that will have the passion and the financial ability to buy garments from me?”
Mark S: Yeah. Let’s say you’re looking to sell shirts to ice hockey kids. Kids that play ice hockey, their parents spend a lot of money on equipment; skates and pads and training gear and sticks and medical bills.
Marc V: $500,000 a year or more, just on the stuff to replace, because they grew three inches over the past year. So probably, they’re real passionate about it. They’ve dedicated – it doesn’t mean that they’re rich. It doesn’t mean that everyone you’re going after is rich.
Mark S: They’ll break loose the money to do that.
Marc V: They will figure out in their budget, how to put something into this passion.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: And it could be true of so many niche markets. Who are going to be people that are going to say, if they’ve got an extra $50 this month to do something with, would they be willing to spend it on a couple of t-shirts, or a hat?
Mark S: So, it has to be an audience that – you have to find a niche that you don’t hate, that you won’t hate doing stuff on. But you’ve got to find one that’s full of people that can afford what you do. And you’ve got to find one that you can get to, that are easily identifiable.
If your niche is hackers, how are you going to find them? You know what I mean? They might have a lot of money. If your niche is secret agents, if your niche is people that hike mountains that are over 12,000 feet, where are you going to find these people, in order to get your stuff in front of them?
So, they have to have the money, and you have to be able to identify who they are and where they are.
Marc V: With that, we’re making a bunch of cases for what’s a niche, why it’s good to have one, and how to kind of start to get there. But there’s an inherent fear in getting into niche marketing, especially if you’re considering developing your whole business model around this.
I think that people can get afraid. “If I don’t help everybody, then I’m going to miss out on money.”
Mark S: Yeah. You’re talking about, like I’m in an area. Why wouldn’t I just say yes to any job that comes my way?
Marc V: Why would I limit myself, to make more money? Why would I limit myself? That doesn’t make sense. Why would I only want to sell women’s apparel? I’m losing half the market.
Mark S: The answer is in retail stores.
Marc V: There you go.
Mark S: Like White House Black Market. It’s in these stores that cater to customers that only – every Starbucks has found a niche market. Every McDonald’s has found a niche market. Every business that you deal with has found a niche market.
So, for you to find a niche market, if you just want to sell to everybody in your area, that is your niche market. Treat it like that. Treat it like a geographical market.
Marc V: A good thing to consider is going to the mall. If we break it down, if we think about it, you’ve got your large department stores. There’s only maybe like five. Right?
Mark S: And they’re closing.
Marc V: Yeah. And the whole mall isn’t large department stores. There is a niche for going to Macy’s or JC Penney or one of these places, where you can go and find everything. There is some of that.
However, there’s also a reason why there’s White House Black Market and Forever 21, and H&M and Gap, and Banana Republic, and all of these things. Banana Republic and Gap and Old Navy might all be in the same mall. They’re all the same company. They’re all the same organization, if you didn’t know that.
They’re owned by the same company. Employees that work for one get discounts at another store. They’re the same company. But they’ve got three different stores, because they’ve got three different niches.
A good exercise you could do when you’re developing this is to walk through the mall and say “Why would this store only sell women’s shoes? If they sold men’s shoes, wouldn’t they sell more?” But no. All of their marketing is for women’s shoes. They bring a lot of styles. Because they don’t have a men’s section, they can have twice as many styles of women’s shoes.
Maybe because they’re only buying certain name brands, because there’s name brands of shoes that they only make women’s shoes. Right? They’re designers, for example. Well, if they can buy twice as many, they can maybe get them cheaper.
So, there’s all these reasons why a store would choose. Because they know, as soon as somebody walks into that store, they’re responding to their marketing, to their window display, to their advertising, to their products.
Mark S: Plus it’s more efficient on a lot of levels, too. Let’s say that you are specializing in high school girls’ sports. Well, the blanks that you keep in stock and the samples that you develop, and the marketing that you create, is based around that target market.
So, you do things that will appeal to athletic young girls. You don’t have to do stuff that will appeal to 90-year-old men and two-year-olds.
Marc V: Yeah. We’re afraid, and anyone who ever does marketing or sales in general, starts to develop this. “If I cut off this product line -.” You don’t even necessarily have to tell your customers no, but you’re also -.
Mark S: You’re not looking for it.
Marc V: And we also talked about before, in some of our other podcasts, that if your website is surrounded around young women’s sports, if a business owner comes to your website, they’re not going to associate it. That’s part of the fear, as well.
“If a guy tells me he wants me to make plumbing shirts for his crew, and he goes to my just-for-girls sportwear website, or email [email protected], then is that guy going to really feel comfortable?
Mark S: I don’t know, and we’re not going to judge that guy, if he feels comfortable or not!
Marc V: No! Also, how did you run into him? Did you run into him at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting that you attended? You guys are friends, and you’re like “Yeah, I have a custom girls’, but I can help out your company.”
You’ve got to break away from that fear of that, because what you’ve got is opportunity to make more money.
Mark S: And I think that here’s another solution to that fear. Don’t become emotionally invested in a particular niche market. Look at it as a business decision, and don’t pick just one. You can narrow your niches down into just one, but let’s say that you have that built-in preference for fishing. Your family fishes, you’ve always fished, you know a lot about fishing. You know a lot of people that fish. You know how to reach that market.
Okay, so that might be your niche market. You’ve picked that one. Well, what’s on either side of that, that you can test, that might be better, or might have more potential, or might cover you if no one actually buys fishing shirts?
Marc V: Yeah. And it’s also related – you’re thinking about it for expansion, too. “Fishing is doing really well. I’m selling more and more of it. But canoeing and kayaking -.”
Mark S: They’re next door. They’re neighbors.
Marc V: They’re next door. Maybe that person that fishes also is really into doing it on a canoe, and going down trails and streams and stuff.
Mark S: Camping and hiking.
Marc V: So now, it’s like “I could do all outdoors stuff.” Slow down, though!
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: You’ll get there one day.
Mark S: Yeah. You can pick two or three of those niches, to develop some ideas toward. And you can test whether or not canoeing is better or fishing is better, or hiking is better, or if two are great and one is bad. If you always have more than one niche working, then you’re never going to spend that three months investing in a particular niche market that doesn’t work out.
Marc V: Yeah. You have a few different projects going on at once.
You had mentioned about samples and the blanks that you can keep, and your book of things that you like to carry and you like to sell. It’s important to consider that within your niches. Like “I want to focus on repair companies, any home repair companies. I want to go around and I’m going to just talk to anybody who does home repair. Here’s the blanks that I thought would be great, if their staff showed up wearing these blanks, if their office staff wore these blanks. These would be great.”
You can start building the blanks. Now, you take this block of blanks, and everything that goes along with this niche. “Here’s how I’m going to sell to them. Here’s how I’m going to talk to them. Here’s the price point I’m going to reach.”
Again, with that same concept, “Where can I lift this up and drop it right onto something else, and it fits?”
Mark S: Right. Maybe it’s really close to plumbers. Maybe it’s really close to – if you’re doing auto repair, maybe it’s really close to boat repair.
Marc V: It can also be different, but the product line that you’ve built can be close enough. “Maybe I can lift this, and I can also move it to,” an example we used in a previous podcast; insurance and mortgage salespeople. How is that related?
“Half of the stuff I picked was polo shirts and button-ups. That works for them. Maybe not these Dickie style button-ups. They’re probably not interested in that, but that’s not what I’m going to push to them. I’ve already selected a moisture wick polo, a cotton polo, a poly blend polo.”
Mark S: That’s another good approach.
Marc V: When you’re thinking of the related markets, you also should be thinking about the products that you’ve created and become an expert on. Who else can you sell those specific to? You’ve got the youth sports apparel, kind of girls’ things happening. “Where else can I push that to? I can probably push that into fitness,” which is different than sports.
“I can maybe get into gyms or maybe even yoga studios. Okay, now I’m starting to think of some other niche areas that my apparel is related to.”
Mark S: If this is starting to seem like a lot to do; a lot of planning and a lot of strategy and a lot of thinking, before you make your first shirt or do your design, good! Because that’s what we’re trying to get you to do.
Because picking a niche market can be the key to making big money, or it can be the key to going out of business, if you pick one and go after it, and don’t have any other options.
Marc V: Yeah. That’s kind of the fear thing that you get into. But it’s part of the risk and the reward. Oftentimes, we talk to folks who say that they can’t make enough money in their market. “My market is saturated. There’s too many t-shirt shops,” or whatever it might be.
That’s true of any business, anywhere. Mechanics, all of that stuff. No matter what you’re in, there’s always going to be a small percentage of people who feel like the market is saturated. “There’s no money to be made in this. Why did I bother to buy all of this mechanic stuff?”
Mark S: And they’ll post that on the Facebook group!
Marc V: Yeah. But it’s true of everything. It’s not just t-shirts. It’s literally everything from restaurants to smoothie shops to vape stores. It doesn’t matter. The difference is, when you look at the really successful ones over time, for the most part, it’s because they focus in on a little niche group of people.
That’s something to think about. It’s part of the risk. But that’s why Mark said you avert that risk a little bit, by thinking of a few, and going for it.
But if you’re too afraid to try it at all, then you’re also avoiding a risk that’s going to help you make more money. If all you’re trying to do is compete against other t-shirt shops that are screen printers and all of these other things, and you’re just trying to compete against them, all you’re going to run into is a person who calls all three, finds the best price, who can deliver it the fastest, and whatever reason they choose. Then, they’re going to sell it.
You’re constantly going to be racing to the bottom, and you’re not going to make the money that you want to make, unless you’re setting up your business to do that.
Somebody listening to this, and some of our customers, are these generalists. They do everything, and they sell things at a very low margin. But they’re doing thousands and thousands and thousands of garments a month, and they own nine different machines.
They are a generalist. They’re Macy’s. They can afford to sell a polo for $9.99. [inaudible 33:57] I’m referring to Macy’s. I don’t know how much they will sell local. At Macy’s, you can go and you can get a $10 polo. However, if you go to a niche market store in the mall, like the Eddie Bauer store or a Nike store, you’re not going to find a $9 polo there. There’s your difference right there.
If you’re going to compete with generalists and you’re not a generalist, it’s not going to work well for you.
Mark S: I like all of that. The purpose of this podcast today was to get you guys thinking about how to make more money, about choosing a niche market, or two or three, and about what focusing on something like that can potentially do for your business.
What we’d like is – an exercise for you to do is write down any niche markets that you’re in, and then maybe find the niche markets that are to the right and to the left.
Marc V: And really, if you have one big customer or a handful of small customers that do something very specific, then there’s one. You’re already in a niche market. You might not do any marketing or focus or anything on it yet.
What if you took those customers and you developed a little mini-catalog of products that you consistently sell to them, and then you tried to find other people like them? That’s kind of the concept of it.
Another part of the exercise is to practice that triangle. You can draw that. On the top, you can put humans.
Mark S: If you’d like, or dogs.
Marc V: Or dogs. I mean, it’s a little bit of a joke.
Mark S: Don’t put cats, though. Don’t put cats.
Marc V: Cats do not like apparel. If you want to, though, make it fun. Make it real big, and start with humans, start with the United States. Sometimes, just doing little silly things like that can make a task that seems daunting, a little lighthearted.
Anyway, you want to build yourself a triangle. Then, you’re going to say “I’m going to be local, only.” Okay. Is it going to be your city or your county? Is it not going to be local? Is it going to be online? Is there a specific search engine? Is it going to be through people on Instagram or people on Facebook? Where? What’s the location?
Then, start thinking “How can I categorize people, to push some out of the ones I want to make my marketing and sales [inaudible 36:27]?”
Mark S: What are their interests? What are their demographics? What is their geography?
Marc V: It can be anything. You don’t have to be concerned about choosing a demographic or an interest or a sex or anything like that, about it being – if you say “My market is Hispanic females,” there’s nothing wrong with saying like “I just want to make stuff for Latinos. I have a bunch of great ideas. I know a bunch of them. I am one.” All of these things. I don’t mean me, literally.
Mark S: We talk about judging all of the time.
Marc V: Yeah. Go for that, then! If you say “I just want to go with Jewish men,” it doesn’t mean that you dislike anybody else or you have to be fearful about advertising it or feel bad about it.”
Mark S: Yeah. You don’t have to feel bad about it.
Marc V: Just say no. “I know about the culture. I know a bunch of things. I have an expertise.”
Mark S: You have an expertise. And maybe you even want to find niches inside those niches, to narrow it down.
Marc V: Exactly.
Mark S: Maybe you do stuff for quinces. Or maybe you only do something for Hasidic Jews. Or maybe there’s something else.
All of these examples that we have are all customers we have or had or will have. One of the first embroidery machines that I actually sold, that you mentioned it, was a Jewish guy from New York. He specifically was doing embroidery just for traditional Hasidic Jew type of things. That’s what was his niche, and it was a big passion of his. He loved it.
Right? The thing we discussed here, he was kind of in the group already. He knew that they were passionate about – the problem was that they were buying garments and apparel and things from other companies and places online, and so many of the men that he was dealing with, they were disappointed with the quality.
They said “I would pay $50, if it looked good. I called the company, and I said ‘Do you have anything nicer?’ And they said no. ‘This is the only shirt we offer.’” So, he came in and he said “I’m going to make really good stuff.”
So, yeah. Find your niche. Think about what it is. Start with an exercise. Draw a triangle. Try to narrow it down, and narrow it down to the point where you say “Okay, that’s too narrow,” and then go up one tier.
Mark S: Yeah. Guys named Ted.
Marc V: Way too narrow.
Mark S: Way too narrow.
Marc V: Go up a tier, go up a tier, and try to find a balance, to say “Okay, here’s something where there’s enough people that I can think of,” specific apparel or marketing or whatever, and then go for it.
Then, find the neighbors next door, as you mentioned earlier.
Mark S: I love that. Okay, so I think we’ve given you enough to think about and chew on and go over. What I’d love is to hear from you guys on the niches that you pick, because we’re still suspicious that – all evidence points to that none of you actually do any of the things that we suggest!
So, I’d like a little proof. If you have found a niche, then send us an email. Post it on the Facebook group. Or heck, send me an email; [email protected] Go ahead and send it to me, and Marc and I will actually talk about the niche a little bit. Maybe we’ll think of some suggestions on ways that you might go after it. Okay?
Marc V: Yeah. You should actually do this. You’re a business owner. You make your own decisions, and you’ve made a lot of probably great decisions. Maybe one of them is not really trying to develop this type of a niche marketing strategy.
But I would challenge you to try something different, if you haven’t before. Just say “Okay, I’m going to invest a bit of time, a little bit of marketing material, a bit of my sales calls,” however you do it. And see if when you attempt this marketing approach, if it doesn’t turn out to increase your sales or your average sale.
Mark S: Or your profits.
Marc V: Or your profits. And if it does, then you’ve found something!
Mark S: Then, we’re a win! Alright, guys. Thanks very much for your time today, listening to episode 59 of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast!
Marc V: Wow! I can’t wait for the 60 jokes.
Mark S: We’re retiring at 65.
Marc V: Don’t you dare say that! This is 2017. We can keep going!
Mark S: Until 73. Alright, guys. Thanks very much for your attention. This has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And Marc Vila, from Colman and Company.
Mark S: You guys have a good business!