Chris Anderson certainly seems to have hit on a winner as he writes his blogging diary on the way to the book. Everyone’s talking about the Long Tail. You know you’ve arrived when you see comments about Google’s Long Tail.
My mantra has always been ‘Focus, focus, focus’. Find your niche then pour all your energy and passion in being the best supplier to that niche. I still think it’s a good core to any business. However this Long Tail idea would seem to point you in a different direction.
A niche is a local peak on the bell curve of individuals or companies. It’s a clump of individuals with similar characteristics and interests. So by thinking of a typical persona, as the Usability experts suggest, you can try to produce the very best product/service package to meet the needs of this typical prospect.
The Long Tail suggests quite a different thought process. The attempts to provide a bumper-sticker definition of the term have not been very successful. Some people have suggested its a huge multiplicity of niches or mini-niches. I think it’s the very reverse of a niche, so I’m coining the term ‘anti-niche’ for it. In other words there’s no simple defining description for all these individuals. They’re all different. However there are so many of them that, if you do something that attracts the attention of even an infinitesimal fraction of them, the multiplication of a very small fraction by a very large number gives you a very sizeable final number.
So practically what should you do. I know how to ‘Focus on my Niche’. How can I ‘Defocus on my Anti-niche’? I think the answer is to start by making sure that a Niche does exist for what you’re putting together and that you can handle it well. However as things roll forward, you’ll possibly find you get more prospects from your ‘Anti-niche’ than from your Niche. Do not panic. This is good news. Luckily Internet Marketing provides incredibly good data on everything that is happening as prospects find you and then convert to purchasers. So go with the flow. Learn from what is happening and improve your ‘defocusing’ process so that you pick up or harvest even more of your Anti-niche. … or should that be your Long Tail.