The Art of Business: The Small Market

Mike Grill // October 17, 2017

There are a few things more frustrating than realizing that you will always be behind someone else or some other company. Luckily you need not remain that way. If you are currently stuck looking up at other companies making more money than you or better positioned in a market than your company, you can change! You can find a small market within your own city sometimes; sometimes you have to move markets, but either way, you can change your focus.

 

The Small Market

Walmart might be the most famous example of this kind of market exposure. The story goes kind of like this: Sam Walton’s wife didn’t want to live in the city anymore, so they moved to the best quail hunting in the US in Bentonville, Arkansas – his wife’s family also lived there. It was here, in a town of around 10,000 that Walton opened the first Walmart. Instead of competing with the likes of Sears, Macy’s, or Montgomery Ward, or even the mid size markets that were dominated by regional stores, Walton staked his claim in the smallest viable markets.

 

Certainly, he could have staked a claim and fought tooth and nail to crawl up to compete in a big market with the big market chain that was nationally recognized in order to scrape by. Instead he planted his flag in the small market, offered small towns cheap goods that local retailers couldn’t compete with and quickly became one of the richest men in the world.

 

Specializing and Focusing

Certainly, you don’t have to move to a small town to exploit a small market, get filthy rich, and cause a whole ton of controversy. There are plenty of ways to fill gaps or cater to an un-catered-to section of your own market. Are you a web developer that specializes in eCommerce platforms? Maybe there is a platform that is not being shopped around your market yet and you can corner that market. Are you a painter who does it all in a very competitive market? Maybe specializing in office painting, or stucco, or Tudor houses will remove a lot of that competition. Maybe focusing on a small market is the way to go. 

 

Refocusing your business, or pivoting, takes a bit of foresight and a bit of bravery, but moving from 3rd or 4th or 5th in a market to 1st in a different market can lead to a massive windfall. Take the house painter for example. In a large market where there might be a lot of really good house painters, this guy can’t seem to break into the top 1 or 2 in his market. And that is fine for a while, but losing all of those customers to more recognized names isn’t what he is in this business for. So instead of spending lots of money on marketing and advertising, he changes his focus. Turns out, in this example, there is a small market waiting for him. There are a lot of Tudor houses that need new paint, and the owners of these houses don’t trust a general house painter to real with all of the trim work, the stucco painting, and the brick: they want a specialist. Could be that our house painter doesn’t necessarily specialize in Tudor houses, but he has enough experience to say that he does, he and his crews can say they specialize in Tudor houses in order to corner this section of the small market. Suddenly, our house painter is trying to claw after 1st or 2nd position in a broad market, he is #1 in a smaller market without necessarily changing a thing besides some wording on his website or informational brochures.

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