You may have heard the term before: “Nichefication.”
In his talk “On the Future of TV: Niche is the New Mass” sponsored by FORA.tv partner The Paley Center for Media, Evan Shapiro, President of Participant Television (a division of Participant Media) explains that for producers of video content, “Nichefication” means “the ability to cater content to the audiences you want to reach and being able to build a rich business model around it.” Former Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson set the argument for niche-marketing abuzz with what he termed famously in 2004 as “The Long Tail” – a business strategy located in “the difference between broadcast and personalized taste,” where consumers are treated as individuals and offered “mass customization as an alternative to mass-market fare.” Nichefication and its strategy of attention, focus, and tailoring to the interests and desires of specific audiences continues to offer a commercially viable and sustainable business model. Media scholars and industry professionals alike emphasize that it’s not a passing trend; Nichefication is a media movement. As with any massive shift in consumer practices, the nature of the industry must respond in turn.
In today’s growing event and conference arena, producing a web-based mediated extension of your content - be it through the facilitation of live streaming or of offering premium or free-access content to internet viewers- is both an expectation and necessity. Posting video content online amplifies the “eventfulness” of your conference or event with an additional aire of credibility and perceived value and import aligned with your brand and message. At its most practical level, it expands your audience base (and potential delegates and sponsors) beyond the limits of time and geography.
Many conference and event organizers upload their content to YouTube to get the job done, motivated by the popular, low-cost online video platform’s fame as, in its own words, a “distribution platform” that “allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos.” Because bigger is always better right?
What experts tell us about the trend movement toward nichefication tells us: Not quite. While it might seem like the obvious move to cast your net into the biggest ocean- the fact of the matter is our ocean is littered with all kinds of content, frequented by billions of people with distinct messages and motivations, floundering and thrashing about in the lure of its sundry and schizophrenic offerings:
So what is the preferable alternative?
In their oracular article “Six Strategies for Successful Niche Marketing: How to win big by thinking small”- Wall Street Journal Business contributors Eric Clemons, Paul Nunes and Matt Reilly explain that “simply avoiding the clutter of mass markets isn't enough.” If you’re going to go niche with your content and message, it involves more than simply opting out of the YouTube trash island. You need strategy. Pulling from the minds of today’s top media and marketing experts (in supplement of our own wealth of experience working strategically with our partners to successfully produce and distribute quality and professional video content from some of the best event and conferences in the world), we offer the following basic tips to event and conference organizers looking to leverage nichefication with their online video content:
1. Re-evaluate your metrics for success
A successful niche approach to conference and event video production and distribution involves looking beyond the numbers game. While one of the basic motivations animating conference and event planning is to “grow your audience,” experts suggest that for all media-content producers- conference and event planners included- learning to shift with the nichefication-tides means shifting from a quantitative to a qualitative assessment of value- away from a factory-farm mass crop mentality to local organic farmsteading. Quality attention breeds quality produce. You can taste the difference in the crop, with the additional assurance that your strategic attention also contributes to the generative potential of your land-plot (your brand/message/mission) by creating sustainable nutrient-rich soil ripe and ready for your next move- whether that’s a new partnership or next year’s annual summit. Focusing your energy on niche markets means investing in your resources (rather than exhausting them) to create the most value and ensure the highest return (engagement, traction, profit, influence).
Shapiro’s vision of nichefication for producers of video content as “the ability to cater content to the audiences you want to reach and being able to build a rich business model around it” foregrounds the agency that comes with “picking a type of content and focusing on that as long as you know there is an audience for it.”
“Niche-ing down” is a strategy of focus and carving out a clear channel for that focus. It’s about finding and carving out large pieces of small pies. Its fitting then when Clemens, Nunes and Reilly advise that companies and organizations stake out what they call “unique market sweet spots”- “those areas that resonate so strongly with target consumers that they are willing to pay a premium price, which offsets the higher production and distribution costs associated with niche offerings,” (an approach they term “resonance marketing.”)
3. It takes a village
One of the simplest strategies for finding those “sweet” areas of resonance is developed through the point of access you create with your audience. Q: Where do your viewers access your content? A: Through the video platform you have chosen to host your content. By making your event or conference video accessible through a digital platform like FORA.tv- a niche platform expertly optimized for watching conference and events- the platform itself becomes a sweet point of access that frames your content within a larger community of highly reputable and game-changing businesses and organizations in a way that hails your ideal viewers- smart, engaged audiences.
What strategies for leveraging media-market nichefication with online video content will you try when planning your next event or conference?