Niche marketing vs. box store approach

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Freelance copywriters should be concerned about the economics of niche marketing vs. the box store approach.

Most freelancers are small, independent businesses who service other independent businesses.  When I say ‘independent’ i’m referring to the typical small business model: an owner operated or small private company.  Over the past few decades, we’ve seen the rise of larger chain stores and multi-national conglomerates who have quickly put many of the smaller concerns out of business.

It’s been of concern for many years that the independents are disappearing.  They simply cannot compete with volume discounts possible for larger organizations who source, or manufacture product off-shore in bulk at extremely low cost.  This has been happening in every sector from agriculture to manufacturing, right down to local clothing stores and restaurants.  Independent businesses that are successful are often bought out by larger concerns, while those that are marginal, i.e. simply a self-employed ‘job’ for the owner find competing with better funded, more visible organizations impossible in the long term.

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for marketing savvy, survival oriented copywriters. Although the ‘giants’ in any industry have deeper pockets and greater staying power potential, the ‘Davids’ still have a few choice stones at their disposal. While the giants may be able to offer customers discount pricing, independents can offer better service, education and advice, as well as niche products that aren’t yet available from large competitors.

Until the global economy began to rock, there was a slow, but steady move by the more affluent and discerning baby boomer generation to vendors who were prepared to cater to them as individuals and as ‘real’ people.  Now that everyone is watching their pennies, this trend could slow as consumers opt for lower prices, however, this should not last for the long term.  Eventually the tide will turn.

Especially if independent businesses promote the fact that of every dollar spent:

  • in a Big Box retailer only 6 cents stays in that community. (Source: Rocky Mountain Institute)
  • in a chain store  only 20 cents stays in that community. (Source: Small Business Administration)

Whereas, a full 60 cents of every dollar spent at a sole proprietorship stays in that community. (Source: Small Business Administration)

Businesses that use the correct psychology and finely tuned marketing strategies can still prosper during this time and be well positioned for significant growth once economic recovery begins.

Copywriters should be examining these opportunities and offering their target markets the benefit of their services in these areas.  After all, statistics show that the small business sector is the fastest growing sector in industry today.

Check out some of these small business statistics from

Small Business Impact on the Economy

The estimated 27.2 million small businesses in the United States:

  • Employ about half of the country’s private sector workforce
  • Hire 40 percent of high tech workers, such as scientists, engineers and computer workers
  • Include 52 percent home-based businesses and two percent franchises
  • Represent 97.3 percent of all the exporters of goods
  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms
  • Generate a majority of the innovations that come from United States companies

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, September 2008

In addition, since 2002, the growth of women, minority, veteran and senior owned small businesses has grown significantly. And, of special interest to copywriters, according to an American Express survey, 52% of small businesses seek assistance from individual mentors, 36% from business advisers and 31% from the internet.

Marketing savvy copywriters have a huge opportuntity to tap into this market by finding ways to help entrepreneurs succeed.  By providing measurable assistance to grow sales and profits for small business entreprenuers, copywriters themselves will benefit considerably, raising themselves from the position of  a ‘discretionary’ service to a ‘must have’ investment.

Most businesses today, large and small are actively seeking ways to invest their dollars and time more profitably.  Those who can clearly demonstrate an ability to help them do so are assured of a loyal and growing client base.

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