The Sports Bra

Have you heard about The Sports Bra?

No, not that.

I’m talking about the bar in Portland Oregon of the same name that is, “100% dedicated to women’s sports.”

All the games on the TVs, all the memorabilia, even The Sports Bra’s tagline (which I admit I wish I had thought of first) – “We Support Women” – is entirely focused on women’s sports.

They don’t even have a men’s room in the place. (I may have made that part up.)

It’s a terrific example of the power of a niche business, with lessons that apply to us as professional service providers…

Yes, the name and tagline are clever. But it’s not simply that.

There is an actual, real life, on the ground difference between this bar and all the others out there, sports-related or not. It’s a discernable distinction that would exist even if it were simply called The Women’s Sports Bar.

Compare that to an ad I heard this very morning from Verizon in which they claim, “Our bars are better than their bars.” The bars they are referring to here are the bars on your cell phone.

Really? Does anyone listening even begin to believe this is true?

It’s just a bunch of fluffy spin that nobody takes seriously, assuming they even notice. It’s not reality-based, it’s just marketing blah blah.

Likewise, many small professional service firms and independents assume that by coming up with an unusual job title, company name, or clever tagline to describe their work, they are somehow separating themselves from the pack.

It doesn’t hurt (says the guy who calls himself “Chief Penguin”), but you can’t describe your way out of sameness. If you could, my bio would describe me as “Nobel-prize-worthy and heart-stoppingly handsome.”

Instead, The Sports Bra has come up with a concept that is factually different. What’s factually different about you or the work you do?

(Hint: If your answer is anything in the neighborhood of, “We offer customized solutions and provide outstanding service to our clients,” you have just earned yourself a seat in the back of the class.)

“A bar dedicated to women’s sports.” Whether you are interested or not in what it has to offer, you immediately understand what it is.

As important, a month from now, when a friend laments the lack of such a place, you’ll remember and say, “You know what, I heard about a bar that…”

Being different doesn’t count if I don’t understand, let alone remember, that difference. So when you describe your niche, you want to use simple, everyday words.

Not fancy, or impressive, or even necessarily a complete and total picture of what you do. Simple.

For example, instead of telling people that you, “Facilitate multigenerational commercial continuity through bespoke legacy transmutation stratagems,” you are probably better off to just say that you, “Help family businesses transition to the next generation.”

You’ll have time to impress people when the sales conversation begins. But you’ll never have that conversation if nobody understands or talks about you and what you do.

It’s not a bar with “a lot of women’s sports,” or “45% more women’s sports than other bars,” or “women’s sports every Tuesday night.”

There’s no hedging – it’s all women’s sports, all the time. Period. That’s where the word of mouth traction comes from.

If, on the other hand, you insist on being a little of this and a little of that, you just fall back in with the crowded “sports bar” field. The next thing you know you’re competing on the size of your hamburgers and whether there’s free parking nearby.

Especially if you are just starting out as a professional, the narrower you can be – all the way down to “I do this one thing and nothing else” – the easier it is to gain a foothold and grow your business.

Is it scary to commit to a niche? A little bit. But if you want to be known for something, you need to have a something.

I love a good niche. It’s the best marketing tool there is – way more powerful than how capable, smart, or experienced you are.

Not to say those things aren’t important; it’s just that I can’t easily (if at all) evaluate those.

But a bar that shows only women’s sports? That I understand and am sure to remember.

Extra Credit:

Summarize today’s newsletter in exactly 11 words.
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16 thoughts on “The Sports Bra

  1. Michael Katz Post author

    I always say my readers are smarter than most (and better looking) and you prove it again and again. Thanks everyone!


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