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Why Niching Down is So Very Important: Example Sport Clips

Choosing your Target Customer

I've been noticing some extremely clever businesses lately and I decided to spotlight them, on occasion, and try to pick apart what is making them successful while others close up shop in their first year of business.

The example today is Sport Clips.

The hair franchise “Sport Clips” opened here in Pensacola recently. They only take male customers. You might think “Well, then they're cutting out 50% of their possible clientele. True. But, they have targeted their store to appeal towards men (specifically men who like sports), so, rather than trying to “kind of” get it right with 100% of people, they're knocking it out of the park (pun intended) for male sports fans.

Check this out – their mission:

At Sport Clips, It's Good to Be a Guy

At Sport Clips, we've created the perfect place for a guy to get great service and a great haircut. Our mission is to create a championship haircut experience for men and boys in an exciting sports themed environment. Stop in today for the ultimate just-for-guys haircut experience!

The Atmosphere.

They have a big screen TV in the waiting room – tuned to ESPN. The store is set up like a locker room. It's clean and masculine. No flowers or fluff, anywhere.

The service.

Their service menu is tailored to guys.

My 13 year old son got the MVP treatment and loved it. He said it was the best hair cut he ever had – and I don't know if he even looked in the mirror.  He just enjoyed being a “guy” and getting the hot towel treatment and the scalp and shoulder massages.

Their Products.

Their Product Menu is …All for guys, too. It makes it much easier to decide WHAT to offer when you know WHO your target customer is, right?

Product Line Up

Sport Clips is proud to offer the finest products in men’s grooming. We’ve partnered with Paul Mitchell, American Crew, and Nioxin to provide men with a wide range of quality solutions for their unique lifestyle needs.

Efficiency in Hiring.

Another huge benefit is in hiring and training. It's much easier to train stylists on ONE type of client than to try to please everyone who walks in.

Marketing Clarity.

It's more efficient. Your marketing  message is loud and clear. People know what to expect when they walk in the door. It's brilliant.

Let's apply this to your online business.

Have you really (*really*) figured out who your target customer is yet? It may change over the years. Mine has. But, it's essential that you know who you're talking to.

  • If you're a VA (Virtual Assistant) or Ghostwriter – who is your ideal client? Authors, Speakers, Chiropractors, SEO Experts…
  • If you've created a book or ebook – is it “Cooking for Everyone” or “Gluten Free Cooking for Moms That Even Your Kids Will Love”?
  • If you've started a coaching business – is your program “Lose Weight in 30 Days” or “Pregnant Moms – Lose Weight 30 Days Postpartum”?
  • If you started a PLR site – is it “all things plr” or are you specializing to one type of person?
  • If you put together an ecourse – is it “the one secret everyone needs to know about marriage” or “the one thing Christian women need to know about marriage”?

Some questions to ask.

  • Who is the person?
  • How old is he/she?
  • What does he/she value most?
  • What are their problems, concerns — what keeps them up at night?

These are all things to consider when creating products, services, putting together a coaching program, starting a podcast or blog, or writing a book.

Who is your best customer? And, how can you BEST help that person to succeed with whatever it is you specialize in?

That, my friends, is what I want you to think of today.

Questions, comments, observations? Please share.

Nicole “Still Taking Benadryl so Please Forgive Me if I have Typos” Dean

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Susanne Myers

    You my friend are brilliant. Love the post and the examples… my little head is already spinning with ideas on how I can apply this to my business 🙂

    BTW – can’t believe you can function, let along write such an awesome post on Benadryl. That stuff just knocks me out and makes me sleep 20 hours a day (I swear that’s how it works. You won’t notice your allergic reaction while you’re deep asleep).

    One thing that helps me and I think you’ve mentioned this before is to think of a particular person you have in mind. Really flesh out that character. Who is she, what’s her name, what does she do for work, for fun? Create a full-fledged character that’s your ideal client and then market to “her”.

  • Vida Evelyn

    Perfect timing, Nicole.

    I just closed down a site that I couldn’t define well. Now I’m researching a similar (but more refined) concept & fantasizing about my customers. Just need to zone in on their key characteristics.

    Vida Evelyn

  • James Kasel Jenkins

    Thanks for the blog Nikki D! I believe you should search every option before you bail out of that crashing jet. However, don’t be afraid to pull the eject cord before you hit the water. Goose needn’t die in vain!! Usually, our first instincts are pretty accurate. The problem with hitting the wall is people have to realize the wall ends some where and that is where the new path begins. Get yo ass out of the box peeps!! Have fun and say please and thank you!!!

    Jim E J

  • Christina Lemmey

    This makes complete and total sense but as a VA I find that it’s so hard to define my market and it’s something I really struggle with. My clients are all in different fields but they really understand about having an online presence, so do I just lump them all into the “internet marketing” category? Doesn’t seem tight enough.

  • Allegra Sinclair

    This is awesome and so timely! I have been working on ‘real’ business planning for 2011 and beyond and quickly realized I had so many disparate sites trying to talk to EVERYbody that I wasn’t doing a great job of connecting with anyone. Great news! Now I’m backing up to answer these questions which I should have done before.
    Thanks for your continued leadership.
    Have a powerful day! Allegra

  • Calvin Critique

    A couple of things.

    Sport Clips hasn’t been doing such a great job of marketing in that you say they “opened here in Pensecola recently.”

    A salon did open recently, but they’ve had two other stores in that area for years.

    As for “knocking it out of the park” more Sport Clips have closed in the state of Florida in the past couple of years than have opened. Ask the owners how much they’ve lost in this business.

    Also ask the owners about “efficiency in hiring.” The flip side of your efficiency argument is trying to find stylists who only wnat to do men.

    • The Mom

      One of the most successful hair places in my little hometown is run by one woman who is a barber. She cuts men’s and women’s hair but doesn’t do any perms or colors – just wash, cut, style, done. Men and women both like it A LOT – no yackin’, no fumes, and no shuffling clients between other clients. Basically you’re in and out in 10 to 20 minutes depending on your hair. And she’s what you’d call a ‘precision barber.’ So, quality and no frills; she has cornered a market by knowing what the area wanted.

      As far as finding stylists who only want to do men’s hair, I know several stylists personally who would appreciate doing ONLY hair cuts on men. The turn over is fast, the tipping is fast, the return is fast. Anyway, that’s what they tell me. Starting any business requires finding people who want to work your way – that’s a priceless commodity to have in any business.

      Now, in Pensacola it’s all about location. To most people who live here, if there’s a Sports Cuts in west P’cola and you don’t live there, it might as well be in Mobile. I know what Nicole means; Sports Cuts just opened here if it just opened HERE – near us. Sports Cuts was smart to build a location over here as they just opened themselves up to a previously untapped clientele. Even the best business ideas won’t go very far if you can’t miss clients because of limitations like location/hours/products/service, etc. etc.

      So, I see the beauty in Sports Cuts opening another location to gain more exposure and clients, niching down their focus, and offering not only clients but employees a fresh new approach to hair cuts and business. This is niching down that works.! Thanks Nicole!

  • Steve


    Your blog post was very informative. It made me realize that I need to focus more on a smaller niche and target them more specifically. Thanks for making me think a little bit more out of the box.
    I’ll be seeing you occasionally and in the meantime have a great and successful 2011!


  • Kent F

    Great stuff Nicole. I think of this every time I see a Sports Clips commercial. IMO there are some flaws in the business model, but not the marketing model! Another great one – and the two kind of go together – is Buffalo Wild Wings. I keep hearing that “Wing Stop wings are better” – but the sales are dwarfed by BWW. We all know why.

  • Ech0 Advertising

    The issue of specialisation is a thorny one. The natural instinct as a small business is to throw yourself open to as many potential customers as possible, what I can say from experience is that its often better to find one thing (at least initially) that you can hang your hat on.

    Once you’ve established as an agency that its easy to to get people to talk to you about say SEO – then you’ve got a focus, and things will get easier from there in terms of defining your customers and how to communicate with them.

  • Jill

    This is such a great example for targeting in on your ideal audience. I did all my research and decided on my target audience (women, 30-45, wanna be entrepreneurs who need marketing and help with zoning in on their passion and skills). I was so proud of all the work I did! Of course, last night at my husbands birthday party I met three men in that same needs as my ideal female market…
    Now I’m thinking of going to take male and female clients. These guys were so excited and I got all of their contact information because they were interested in working with me. What’s a gal to do?? 🙂

  • Peggy Baron

    Gosh, I can’t believe you can operate with Benadryl in your system! I took one last night before bed and when the phone rang at midnight I couldn’t figure out what that sound was. lol.

    Anyway thanks for the marketing lesson, Nicole. I’m a pleaser and like to have something for everyone, but I had learned to narrow it down somewhat.

    I know you need to know who your customers are, but I’ve always wondered exactly how you go about finding out that information with an online business. How do I know how old they are and who they are when you don’t have real face to face contact? Sometimes you can’t even tell if they’re male or female if trying to go by their email addies. Obviously asking them on a survey is one way, but how else can you do it?


  • The Happypreneur

    I love this Nicole! I have never heard of Sports Clips, but then I wouldn’t because I live in the sticks where men get their hair cut at the kitchen table, with their huntin’ dawgs at their feet. OK, not all the men, just some of them.

    Anyway, I thought this was a great example of niche marketing and knowing your target market.


    • The Mom

      You crack me up! I’ve got a mental picture going… 🙂

      Hey, wait a minute…

      Man ‘n Beast Barber Shop

      The shop is set up exactly like a kitchen; you even stand at the kitchen sink to get your hair washed. Then you sit at the kitchen table (on one of those kiddie stools), get a towel draped over your shoulders and out come the clippers and scissors. Of course, dogs are welcome to stay at your feet and when the cut is done, if Ol’ Yeller is a good boy, he gets a nice big knuckle bone right out of the refrigerator. Cool?

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