The riches are in the niches.

Because if you try to please everybody, you'll excite nobody.

I swear to god I never planned for this to be a metal blog, but it continues offering me insight.

Over the weekend I attended Knotfest (and two sideshows, which for a 39 year old Dad is LOT, my body is ruined), a large outdoor metal festival. Not a ‘music festival’ covering broad strokes of genres and radio playlists, metal only. And not just a metal festival, Slipknot’s metal festival. This is a festival that centres around one band. One band made up of nearly 50 year old dudes in jumpsuits and masks setting things on fire. And the crowd was full of 15 and 50 year olds alike.

Here’s a great aerial clip.

This is not the headline act. It’s not even dark yet. This is Parkway Drive, a legendary band from Byron Bay you might never have heard of. Look at the crowd. I have no idea the total audience, but it was fucking huge.

This is what most would consider a ‘niche’ genre with a ‘niche’ audience.

In 2015, Spotify conducted one of the largest studies on music fanbases, and found metal to have the most loyal and passionate following of any style of music on the planet. They emotionally (and financially) invest more into their ‘niche’ than anyone else. There’s a lot to learn from this.

The people you find within ‘niches’ are highly engaged. They’re incredibly devoted. Their identity resides within it. (I saw a guy with a Slipknot logo tattooed on his goddamn head). And, for the most part, they are criminally ignored by marketers.

Over many years I have been told by clients that:

Video games are too niche (this is a market bigger than film and music COMBINED)

‘Comic book style art’ is ‘too niche’ (I mean, honestly, how does that one look now?)

Extreme sports is ‘too niche’ (terrible news for Red Bull, might have to sell their Formula 1 team)

And, yes, heavy metal is ‘too niche’. (It’s so niche that a canned water brand that went after it is now worth $750 million in 3 years)

This is not me having a whinge about ideas being knocked down, we’ve all been on the receiving end of that, I’m just leading to a larger point here, which is…


Because all you’re going to do is excite nobody.

The most powerful ideas are somewhat divisive. They cause friction. They put butterflies in stomachs. They make people feel something.

As I’ve touched on before, no one starts from a position of caring about what we do. It’s our job to make them. So tapping into a niche that already carries all the devotion we’re seeking shouldn’t be so casually dismissed.

“You cannot bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them in buying it.” - David Ogilvy

If you want to make something that people are interested in, you won’t get it by hunting some kind of dull anaesthesia that no one reacts to in the research session.

You won’t find it in bringing eight people to the creative presentation and compiling everyone’s feedback. (George from Product ‘not liking the colour green’ doesn’t matter, trust me.)

You won’t get it from digital and performance marketers who tell you that unique creative doesn’t matter because they have the most sophisticated targeting method in existence (and then get excited about a 1.7% click through rate).

And you won’t earn it by writing off a clearly engaging idea because ‘it’s not broad enough for the general population’.

Stop trying to please everybody.

Because you’re still better off exciting 1 person, than boring 100.

“The riskiest idea is one that nobody pays attention to” - Greg Hahn

There, of course, needs to be a reason. This idea needs a purpose and to connect with your brand or product and the benefits it offers, like this:

But the next time you see one, don’t write that ‘niche’ idea off. Sure, don’t blow the whole budget on it, but give it a chance. Squirrel some money aside and conduct an experiment.

Otherwise, this is what you could be missing.


or to participate.