I was thinking the other day about how my tastes, preferences, and attitudes have changed over the years since I was first married and had four little ones running under foot.
All my children have now reached adulthood, have families of their own, and I’m called “grandpa.”
(By the way, for any of you staring a similar transition in the face – it’s a wonderful thing! It beats the alternative, doesn’t it?)
I don’t read the same things that used to interest me.
I don’t watch the same TV I did back then (mostly “kiddie TV” to keep the wee ones happy).
The Internet was not around yet.
Come to think of it, my tastes for Internet fare have changed as well.
Early on I used to spend my time surfing from portal to portal.
I jumped from site to site amazed with all the color, sounds, and new places I was discovering.
I was like a kid on Christmas morning bouncing from package to package seeing what cool things had arrived.
Now I’m much more liable to hit a few “deep” sites, vertical surfing you might say, looking for information in very specialized niches and subjects.
Which brings me to the point of this musing . . . companies no longer use the Internet for marketing their products only.
There was a time when that was about all the net seemed to be good for.
You pasted your catalog online, marketed with avalanches of emails, banners, pop-ups, and other “interruption” techniques, and offered a transaction medium to complete the sale.
It was pretty simple really.
I was reading Darwin magazine awhile back and noticed an interesting article titled “Numbers.”
The author mentioned that the main reason today’s companies go online is not necessarily for promoting products as it used to be.
The Yankee Group (Boston) surveyed 600 mid- to large businesses and found what I thought was a very important trend (at least among larger firms):
“43 percent of them said information (non-marketing content) was the primary driver for the existence of their websites. Just 17 percent of respondents listed marketing as a top priority, and only 10 percent of respondents said driving revenues was the main driver.”
How does that trend affect small operators like the typical solo Internet business?
I might be totally out in left field in my opinion, but I believe that trend is very good for you and your small business, if . . . you don’t try to compete with the big boys.
You see, big business is becoming increasingly responsive to the information needs of customers.
They use the Internet less and less for selling and more and more for things like customer service, communications, and support of customer’s requests.
But big business has a voracious appetite. It must appeal to the masses and find large numbers of prospects in competitive niches.
You, on the other hand, can thrive on a few hundred to a few thousand passionate followers.
Here’s a very important secret: You can dominate a niche that is way too small for big business to be concerned about if you position your business to take advantage of this fact.
I believe there will always be a place for the little guy business on the Internet.
Some of us would prefer to seek out deep niches, specialty products, and deal with quirky, personable, opinionated humans than the vanilla-flavored Goliaths of the world!
I would rather find a secluded little out-of-the-way restaurant that serves unique dinners you won’t find elsewhere . . . over dining at the large and predictable restaurant chain that you’ll find in every big city in the land – all with the same menu.
Maybe that’s just me . . .
But I’ll tell you this – there are small-time operators working part time from home pulling in six figure annual incomes by catering specifically to the wants of 1,000 or fewer passionate customers.
Don’t you just love the Internet? I do!
To your online business success,