Competition is not the best way to make money contrary to popular opinion. So, don’t compete. It saps resources and causes a lot of otherwise intelligent people to make unforced errors. Real Subscriptions makers understand that competition is about playing by someone else’s rules.

Instead, subscription makers find ways to niche down. For our conversations, niche down is a term of art that means selecting one of the popular major categories, then creating a niche only you can fill. Subscription makers are niche owners and sub-category dominators.

There are three perennially popular categories: finance, health, and relationships. Many in the self-help movement call these the big three. To niche down requires that you select one of these big three niches then create a sub-niche that only you can fill by choosing who and how to serve this niche.

For example, as people age, some become increasingly concerned about their health. So, a sub-category would educate people on the best supplements to reverse aging. Imagine this niche as opposed to a niche that stresses paleo, which is a form of super-low carb diet. However, this may not be niched enough to rank you as a category owner.

You may need to add what can only be described as a degree of difficulty much as you see in judged sports like diving. It’s the degree of difficulty that creates a competitive advantage, which creates value.

As we discussed in the last blog post, delivering the right amount of value is more an art than a science. Luckily, you are not alone in your efforts to figure out the right level of value to deliver over what time frame. You have true fans. They represent the core beneficiaries of your subscription services.

Additionally, you may want to develop a strategic network that sits on the fridge of whatever constitutes normalcy. These people represent your early warning system. They are malcontents who care more about what’s possible than the status quo.

When you niche down, you always have to be concerned that your focus may cause you to lose relevance. If you lose relevance, then it’s just a matter of time before your business loses viability. So, you have got to be constantly searching for those places in your network, which have gone neglected over time or may have just sprung into existence.

Unfortunately, your true fans may not tell you when what your doing is becoming irrelevant. They may not even recognize that things are changing. They may, however, wake up of one day and decide that the world has moved on without you. This is the downside of developing a subscription service that caters to stridently to what has worked in the past.

The upside is that you can change the game in the middle of the round. Gameplay is defined by the category owner. Unlike in a corporate setting, you don’t have to answer to a board. You can simply change the game. You do need to start a conversation. However, this is done more for the feedback effect rather than a beurocratic necessity.

The goal is always to do no harm. And wasting your fans time is a form of harm. Wasting time consumes a resource that they will never be able to replace. Causing embarrassment is also a form of harm because it can delay gratification and can lead to the abandonment of the person’s goals. This can be catastrophic even in non-life threating situations.

Zachary Alexander