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Find Your Company Niche

Sep 16Danny Windsor

small_5487317656Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary defines a niche as “the situation in which a business’s products or services can succeed by being sold to a particular kind or group of people.”  A company that truly finds and maximizes its niche will succeed in spite of numerous and formidable competition.  One of my favorite examples in this regard is the story of the Strat-O-Matic game company.  Start-O-Matic was invented by Hal Richman and began as a company in 1961.   It began as a baseball board game and in the years to follow added football, basketball, and hockey board games.   It now has computer games to go along with the board games.  Strat was truly unique in its realism and statistical accuracy of actual professional players and teams as gamers replayed games and seasons.  Throughout the years, Mr. Richman faced numerous obstacles and overcame them as his company survived challenge after challenge.  One of the most serious challenges to the survival of his game was the proliferation and growth of computer games starting in the 1980’s.  With the fancy graphics of the many computer sports games such as Electronic Arts, Strat found itself having to find a way to compete even though they were a very small company.  I am very happy to tell you that Strat not only has survived, but thrived in their market and with their loyal customer base.  Their success is attributable to the following:

  • They recognized a market within a market.  Strat-O-Matic was primarily a text game, not a graphics game.  Mr. Richman observed, “we have text games, not graphics games.  Because of that we’ll only get a very small percentage of the market.  But we will get a percentage of the market (Guzzo, p.201).”
  • They focused relentlessly on their market and made their products both unique and excellent.  Mr. Richman said, “for us to compete with Electronic Arts, which is a billion-and-a-half dollar company, we have to do things they don’t do-we really work on the ratings, we really work on the old-timer sets.  We do things they just don’t do (Guzzo, p.201).”
  • They kept their customers loyal by exceeding their expectations.  The Strat-O-Matic fan base is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their sports and history of sports.  In baseball, Strat-O-Matic developed and now “has a disk for every season from 1901 to the present.  Its previously created Career Historical Disk includes all 15,000 players ever to appear in the Major Leagues, dating to the nineteenth century (Guzzo, p.191).”  In addition, “from early 1996 to the end of 2004, Strat-O-Matic offered nearly 250 new products-card sets, computer games, computer-only season disks, and computer utilities (Guzzo, p.191).”

Succeed and thrive by remembering Strat-O-Matic’s formula, and as Hal Richman has well stated, “You always have to remember who you are and what you are (Guzzo, p.201).”

*Guzzo, Glenn (2005),  Strat-O-Matic FANATICS

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