Do you think that you have to be incredibly special, or at least different to stand out in a crowded market?
Yet, at least at the starting point, it’s the mundane that gets the attention. If anything, being unique or different seems to be backfire. How do you use the power of mundanity to break into a market and then how do you sustain that momentum?
Is the market saturated?
The answer lies in a bit in cookbooks.
If you go to the book store today (or to Amazon), you'll notice there are new cookbooks. Go back in a month, and you find a new set. No matter which year or which month you pick in the last twenty years, you'll find the books have changed. And if you were to extrapolate twenty years into the future, once again the market will continue to have new cookbooks.
Which makes no sense at all because we know almost any recipe we want is already online.
If you want to make a butter chicken, there are probably 5,000 videos on it. Prefer something vegetarian instead? There are likely to be at least 5,000 videos on butter dal (better known as dal makhani). And next month there will be more videos on the same topic, but also more viewers. And in the book store, more books.
If you're scratching your head at this point, it's because you know that this scenario is true.
Why, then, does such a market continue to exist? It does, because of a factor of “like”. People look for people they like. When I first started watching YouTube videos on Indian cooking, I watched a chef called Vah Chef.
Since then, I've moved on to another channel, then another and yet another. My taste for the video and the presentation itself keeps changing, and over time, I find I like one more than the other.
Which is why a market will never get saturated
People should stick with one person, but they never do. No one says “you cheated on your favourite channel or cookbook author”. And you know this to be true because if you're into marketing, you already have many books.
You have authors who you liked, who you currently like and those you will like in the future. Some may continue to be favourites, and some will lose their favourite status over time. Nonetheless, the idea that the market is saturated is just a feeling.
If you go back to the time when your grandma was your age, there were already enough books on cooking, on philosophy, on politics—and every possible topic you could think of. All of those printing presses should have come to a halt. Twenty years ago, we already millions of websites.
But here's the good news. Even in the world of websites, we have over 1.5 billion sites on the world wide web today. Of these, less than 200 million are active.
There are many reasons why those websites are not active, but at least a few million of them would have thought: Ah, the Internet is saturated, and stopped. And the Internet or offline products and services are nowhere near saturation level.
The reason: our tastes keep changing. Even the same recipe, when explained by another person, is liked differently.
P.S. This is also the reason why we at Psychotactics continue to exist and thrive. We're not going down some fancy path. Look at what we sell. An Article Writing Course, a sales page course, a book called The Brain Audit, which is about conversion.
Do these products exist already? Yes, they do. And a year—or a month from now—another hundred or thousand more of these products will exist. Which is to say that the market isn't saturated after all. The question is slightly different.
And the problem isn't: should I give up because the market is saturated? But instead: how do I enter a saturated market with what seems to be an everyday product, and still stand out?
What's the key to getting started?
There are three distinct routes you can take.
1- You can take on an extremely staid topic
2- You can be extremely different—and go into sub-topics
3- You can keep on top of the trends
1- Taking on an extremely staid topic
Unmesh Dinda runs a company called PixImperfect.
Well, strictly speaking, it didn't start as a company. Instead, it's more prominent on YouTube as a channel. What's interesting about this channel is the mundanity of the topic. Unmesh covers Photoshop. Yes, the very same program that has spawned hundreds of thousands of books and tens of millions of videos.
Why step into such a crowded market, we might ask ourselves?
The precise answer is that a crowded market is a more precise predictor of getting noticed. Which at first, sounds very odd, doesn't it? Shouldn't you be more niche, instead? Yes, you can and should be more selective about the topics you choose, but at the very top level, you should be in a market that's extremely mundane.
No matter where you look, you'll find this factor of mundanity to be true
The topics that sell very well are not very unusual at all. As we already found out, topics such as cooking, health, gardening, article writing, copywriting seem to border on “boring” but they're precisely what most of your clients are already looking for.
Which is to say that if you're off trying to break into a digital program market, Photoshop is a better predictor of success than some new-fangled program that few people have heard of.
We keep trying to find something “different” because we believe that the market is saturated, when in fact it's always growing. And in a growing market, you have more buyers or the same buyers trying out different wares until they find something they like.
Unmesh and his staid Photoshop topic has now spawned well over 1.5 million viewers
And he's hardly the exception. On YouTube alone, there are photographers, foodies and health videos—to name a few, that have tens of thousands, if not millions of viewers. This sort of weird behaviour (weird to us, that is) plays out all over the Internet. Whether it's text, video or audio, the mundane seems to do remarkably well (given some conditions, which we will cover shortly).
However, the first part of this article is easily the easiest of all. Be mundane. Take on the staid topic.
2- How to be different
Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism?
These are the questions that host Steven Dubner asked on an episode of Freakonomics. If you were to ask the average person on the street such a question, you'd get a wild opinionated answer.
Even in the higher levels of politics and the military, you'd end up dealing with a fair amount of guesswork. Yet, the guest on that show wasn't dealing with ideas. Instead, he was dealing with hard data.
Here's what he said:
After 9/11, I compiled the first complete database of all suicide attacks around the world. At that time, it showed that half of the suicide attacks were not driven by Islamic fundamentalism.
Many were done by purely secular groups such as the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, which is a Hindu group, not even an Islamic group; a Marxist group, an anti-religious group.
What I found was that 95 per cent of suicide attacks around the world since the early 1980s, was in response to a military intervention, often an army, being sent on the territory that terrorists prize.
What got your interest as you read those words?
Me too. The fact that data could predict suicide attacks and why they were instigated in the first place—that got my attention also. And while we mortals can't do much about decisions that are made at political levels, it's the details that get our attention.
The reason why it gets our attention is not that it's pure information, but instead makes a promise of a result. It informs us that at least in the matter of suicide attacks, we could do things differently.
Which is something that Unmesh Dinda does with Photoshop as well
His top-level is the seemingly mundane topic of Photoshop. If you ever opened a Photoshop Bible or went through a manual, what you tend to get is a tour of the Photoshop mansion.
You get to see all the tools, what they do, and how they interact with each other. What Unmesh (and others like him) do exceedingly well, is get to a lower, sub-topic level. A level that's designed solely to give you a precise result.
Even if you look at a few videos, you start to realise that all of them have a clear endpoint.
It's not like the manual where you learn about the program itself. Instead, it takes a diversion into giving you a result. You can learn how to use hidden, lighting features, or asset generators. Feel like fixing messy hair, or creating an action comic look? Those are among the various how-to videos that are featured on the site and enable you to get a result.
If you're into teaching yoga, what would this mean for you?
It means that you don't get the client through the yoga class. There are ten million people who are already in that mean category. Instead, you have specific classes or even specific moves that help the clients achieve a specific result.
One of the earliest proponents of yoga, Shri BKS Iyengar used his book to point out how to reduce indigestion, or how to get rid of back pain—all of them are results.
To get the attention of your client, you're going to have to stop thinking of Photoshop
Instead, you are going to leap into the world of sub-topics because it's precisely in that world that the client can do something with your information. If I, as a client can take messy hair and fix it in Photoshop, now I'm going to pay closer attention to you.
This article itself is stepping you through the stages of a how-to, with specific results, but every single one of our products is designed to do the same. If you look at the Secret Life of testimonials, for instance, you end up with 1000 word testimonials.
If you look at Chaos Planning, you realise that you can plan every day, while making chaos your friend. Every course, every sub-section of the courses, they're all designed to get specific and pre-determined results.
Those details are what many of us miss out because we're much too focused on information
What you need to do, right now, is write down what you're going to cover. Make a list of things. For instance, if I were doing a webinar series on “how to improve your storytelling”, I'd make a list of everything that I wanted to cover. A simple, scribbly list on a sheet of paper will do just fine for me.
Next, I'd try to determine what result I'm getting for the client.
If I can't get a result, the topic may be too big. For instance, the “storytelling” bit is interesting but much too broad. If it were broken up, you'd be likely to see something like this:
- how to write the first line
- how to pace the story
- how to keep it short
- how to reconnect to the rest of the article
- how to trigger off the original story
That's just a rough list but isn't it how-to based?
Your result may be largely conceptual, almost impossible to measure, and still have a result. Take, for instance, the headline course that we've just finished. In Week 8, the clients have to get to our blog and rewrite my headlines. That's quite the task for many of them because they realise that I'm the teacher and they've got to improve my headlines.
Yet, by the end of the week, all the clients are quite adept at writing better, or even different headlines. What's the result? It's about confidence. The clients were already good at writing headlines by Week 7, but the goal in Week 8 isn't to just write but to know they've mastered the art of writing headlines. Your result doesn't always need to have a measurable result, but a result is needed for sure.
Make that list.
Write the results next to it.
Then let's go to the third part of this trip on getting started. We took on a remarkably staid topic. We looked at how sub-topics make us stand out because sub-topics are result-based by nature. But there's a third way to get attention, and it's called “riding the trend”.
3- You can keep on top of the trends
It's exactly as it sounds.
If Photoshop releases a new version, you cover the heck out of it.
If Google ads break half the Internet, you dig into it in great detail.
If there's a different way to get braces on kids, that's interesting to a lot of dental practitioners and parents too.
A trend alone can set in motion a bunch of products or services, articles, videos—or whatever method you're using to get to your audience. And trends ride the wave for an incredibly long time because people get to the new trend in phases. The earlier you are, the better for you.
But you don't even have to ride the trend if you don't want to do so
At Psychotactics, we've not only avoided trends completely, but we've stuck our heads in the mud time and time again. We ignored the emergence of blogs, of YouTube, of Google ads and possibly any trend, which eventually became that norm. Even with such a weird attitude, you can still get going and keep going if you pay attention to the top two, namely:
1- Get a mundane topic.
2- Becoming different by providing precise results with sub-topics.
The trends? They're just the icing on the cake. 🙂