Serving Niche Markets: Pros and Cons

Three years ago I decided to completely change my career.  I resigned from my marketing agency of 14 years to start a tech company. I didn’t know how to build a website and someone could’ve told me UI and UX were names of music bands and I would’ve believed them. But I took the plunge anyway.

I built, ShaadiShop, a lead-gen marketplace for wedding venues interested in South Asian (aka Indian) weddings. And everyday is an exciting roller coaster of wins, challenges, learning and trying new things.

The South Asian wedding market in the USA, is a $5B industry and growing. The average South Asian wedding budget is $100,000…but it’s a small market. Undoubtedly there are pros and cons to working in small, niche markets:

Pro: Hard to Replace 
Niche-focused companies satisfy very specific needs that, often no one else can. They also benefit from institutional knowledge that is so targeted and deep that they’re hard to replace.

Pro: Love, Not Just Like
At Y Combinator they have a saying, “it’s better to build something that a small number of users love than a large number of users like.” Good niche products are loved, which means as long as there’s a market, there will be demand.

Pro: Long Tail Keyword Content Marketing
Anyone who’s tried to get ranked on Google, knows it’s pretty difficult.  Small, niche-focused startups are better off taking advantage of long tail keywords and industry jargon in their content marketing, using words that aren’t, likely showing up anywhere else.

Con: One-Time Customers
This is true for my product. Being in the wedding space we tend to have few repeat customers. So we’re constantly working to over-fill our sales pipeline.

Con: Outside Funding Dreams
Investors usually seek out companies with big markets. Niche markets, especially ones as small as US South Asian weddings, aren’t big enough to be attractive to outside investors. I knew that going in and rather than view that as a disadvantage, we get creative everyday and I enjoy total autonomy of my business.

Con: Marketplace Attention
As a marketplace, our customers are two-fold: venues + consumers. While consumers love our product, sometimes getting attention from venues is hard because South Asian weddings represent a small portion of their overall revenue. So how do you get attention?

1. Follow-Through. Sales can be a grind, but I can’t tell you how many deals I have eventually closed, simply because I didn’t give up.

2. Show, Don’t Tell. We create detailed profiles for venues on our website. So, for some prospects we build the profile and send it with a “claim your profile” type note.  Undoubtedly this is an investment of time; but we tried it and found it worthwhile.

3. Enticing/Interesting Email Subject Lines. This is a whole topic in itself, but it’s a good use of time to read a few articles about this, as it can make all the difference between your email getting opened vs. deleted/ignored.

4. Get Creative. We got these life sized cardboard cutouts made, took fun/funny photos of them at various venues and sent them to prospective clients.  This tactic definitely garnered attention and we had a ton of fun putting it together.

ShaadiShop mascot, Kuljit, helping out at the construction site of a new resort; #ConstructionKuljit.
I love this venue, don’t you?
Kiran, ready to give her speech at the Wyndham hotel.

Samta Varia is the Founder & CEO of ShaadiShop,  lead-gen marketplace for venues interested in South Asian weddings.