A story ran recently in Bluegrass Today that began, “Are you a bluegrass banjo fan who also traps small game?” It immediately made me feel like I hadn’t really given niche marketing the attention it deserves. Okay, I haven’t given it any attention, whether it deserves it or not, and yet here I sit, drinking the latest Dr. Pepper spinoff flavor, that appears to have Wonder Woman on the can, while eating coffee flavored almonds, and I realize that I’m already a consumer of overspecialized stuff.
It’s difficult, because as bluegrass artists, or people who sell other products to bluegrass fans, we’re always looking for ways to expand our audience while holding on to our base. It’s the very same thing politicians do, but we spend way less money on polling and suits, and I’d like to think we lie less often. This usually requires being less specific, not more. The last thing we want to do is shrink our bluegrass audience by catering strictly to people who like our music but who also collect vintage Chinese checkers boards. And when it comes to marketing new products, I don’t even sell T-shirts because I don’t want to lug around all those different sizes.
However, what you get by catering to a very narrow combination of interests is passionate commitment, and people who are passionate about what you do will do things to help your career. At the very least they’ll give you a nice Chinese checkers board from 1962.
If you’re like me, and this way of thinking about marketing is new to you, here are some untapped niche groups that are currently being underserved. I’ll leave it to you to come up with the appropriate product to fulfill these people’s needs and desires (or possibly just whims, but that’ll work, too).
- Stanley Brothers fans who do sock photography
- Fans of old-time fiddle who do pork sculpture
- Don Stover fans who also love Abba
- Abba fans who know all the words to Footprints in the Snow (let your concept album imagination run wild with this one)
- Seldom Scene fans who have a melon allergy
- Sarah Jarosz fans who are followers of Lyndon LaRouche (google it)
- Fans of the Johnson Mountain Boys (Richard Underwood period) who have a crush on Faye Dunaway (Little Big Man period)
- Pacifists who love murder ballads
- Fans of Jimmy Martin who practice “Ki-Pone-Wa,” an obscure form of martial arts that involves using kiwi fruit as a deadly weapon
- Balsam Range fans who hoard travel mugs
- Fans of Laurie Lewis who eat a great deal of fried chicken
I think I’m too lazy to actually come up with products for these people (though I’d love to be the producer of the Abba/Don Stover concept album), however I’m not too lazy to take up some of these hobbies. At a later date.