• Christy Murdock

What "Nope" can teach you about finding your niche


If you've read much of my writing, either here or at Inman, you'll know that I am a fan of pop culture and film in particular. I love all types of movies and all types of genres. I feel lucky because I grew up with older parents, so my tastes range from truly old-school black and white slapstick comedies to the latest Marvel blockbusters.


At the same time, I guess you could say I have something of an addictive personality when it comes to movies. I will get in a groove and watch the same movie over and over, developing something of an obsession for it. When I'm really into a movie, I may watch it every day for weeks. Then one day, *poof* the spell is broken and I won't watch that movie again for years, if ever.


Sometimes, this is a way of coping with whatever I'm dealing with in my personal life. When I feel disempowered, for example, I'll almost inevitably watch Tarantino films. He's by far my favorite filmmaker and Kill Bill is my favorite of his movies.


I never watch Vol. 1 and 2 as separate movies but watch them both as one long movie, often taking to my bed and spending a whole day watching The Bride slash her way around the world: a truly cathartic experience.


When I was going through my divorce, I watched breakup movies on a loop:

  • Something's Gotta Give

  • Heartburn

  • Midsommar (the ultimate)

  • Gone Girl

  • The First Wives Club

  • Murphy's Romance

  • Diary of a Mad Black Woman

  • Waiting to Exhale

  • Wildcats

  • Under the Tuscan Sun

  • The Women

  • The Upside of Anger

  • The Goodbye Girl

  • Private Benjamin

  • What Lies Beneath

Some I watched for their nostalgia factor, others for the empowerment, and still others for their sunny optimism. Sometimes I get hooked on a movie because it resonates with what I'm going through, sometimes because a performance is so wonderful that I just want to live with that character for a little while.


Because I write so much, there are some movies that become constant must-watches because the language in them fills me with joy. I love hearing words and phrases that are different from the everyday and that stay with me long after the movie has ended. Alexander Payne movies are a great example of this, with dialogue that always feels new and fresh and authentic.


My newest film obsession: Nope

Now, the latest movie to add to the list is Nope, the genre-bending western/sci-fi/horror/family drama from Jordan Peele. As I write this, I'm planning to go and see it for the second time at the movie theater (virtually unheard of for me) and counting down the days until I can buy it to watch (on a loop) at home.


If you haven't heard of Nope, I won't really bother trying to explain it to you in too much detail since there's so much going on with it. The tl;dr of it is that a family that trains horses for the show business industry starts experiencing some unusual/paranormal events at their ranch. Through their attempt to capture what's happening on film, Peele examines the nature of fame, film, art, nature and so much more. It's a truly profound film while at the same time being wildly entertaining.


To say that I love this movie would be a ridiculous understatement. To say it's genius would be one, as well. I am a huge fan of Westerns, so to re-contextualize the Western genre through the lens of a Black filmmaker and a culturally diverse cast is just the first of the many things that feel new here.


The thing that I found so interesting, though, was how completely different this felt. Don't you sometimes feel like we're living in a cookie-cutter world where everything is so boring and homogenized? Where shows and movies and music have had all of the originality taken out of them and we're just left with these bland do-overs of previous ideas? Nope feels outrageous. It feels like something I've never seen or heard of before.


So what does all of this have to do with your business?

I think marketing can feel so boring so much of the time. People reach out to me for a bio or a website or a blog and what they want to say is the same thing everybody else is saying. And it's really hard to convince them to say something else, something a little more specific and a little more special, because they're afraid that if they say something different, they'll lose potential clients.


When you go in a truly different direction and ignore the status quo, you have the opportunity to make your business something special and to have more fun in the process. Yes, it's scary, but it's often worth it.


With all of that said, here's what Nope can teach you about niche marketing


1. Stop limiting your audience to people who look like you


When you picture the heroes of a Western or a sci-fi movie, they're probably white and male. The diverse cast of Nope shows that there is no one way to look or act. It's what you do that counts.


It sounds counterintuitive, but going broader in some senses can constitute niche marketing, since you'll be reaching underserved groups who normally don't get engaged by other marketing channels. You're casting a wide net to make sure you're talking to people who rarely get spoken to.


If you go to Unsplash or Canva and pull images to use on your blog or social media, you should be pulling images of all types of people. If you are creating content, you should be creating content that speaks to all types of people.


If you are a white real estate agent and you see a story on racial discrimination in appraisals and you think to yourself, "That's not my problem" or "That's not a problem for my clients" there is a problem with the way you are doing business and the way that you are communicating to your market, bottom line.


If you are a male real estate agent and you aren't outraged that the income gap means women in your market are having a harder time buying their first home, you're doing business wrong.


If you are an older real estate agent and you got your PPP loan forgiven and you aren't thrilled that younger people with student loans are getting some help so that they can buy a home, you are not doing your duty to your clients.


Stop caring only about reaching out and communicating to "your people." Everyone in your market (and beyond) is or should be "your people" and you need to communicate with them so that they can buy a home, sell a home, or make a plan to achieve their real estate goals. Period.


2. When it comes to your POV, there's no such thing as too narrow


Jordan Peele has a very specific point of view. It would be tempting to say to him, "People are probably not going to 'get' what you're saying with your horse opera/sci-fi/Hollywood/cultural commentary" and yet, film after film, people embrace what he's doing. His voice, unique as it is, resonates.


When I started out as a content writer, I could have just been a content writer. I knew a little bit about a lot of things, and I could have marketed myself to lots of different people and industries.


What helped me to be successful was the fact that I knew a fair amount about real estate, so I became a content writer specializing in real estate and bought the URL writingrealestate.com.


Moreover, my marketing and the content I create are informed by my particular point of view. I don't hide what I think, who I am, or what my perspective is.


I sell a lot of my property description courses to women. I don't think that's an accident. I think my message resonates more with women and I think the things I talk about and write about connect more with women.


I don't worry about that and I don't spend time changing myself or my content to appeal more to men instead. I am who I am: a 52-year-old woman. I don't see any sense pretending to be anyone else and you shouldn't either.


That doesn't mean I'm leaving anyone out. That doesn't mean that men don't hire me. It just means that I don't try to tone down who I am to avoid offending potential male readers or clients. The men who value my work will hire me anyway. The ones who don't won't.


Men who are afraid of a woman who speaks her mind won't like working with me and I won't like working with them. They shouldn't reach out to me because it won't be a great experience for either of us.


3. Narrowing your subject matter is better than shouting into the void


Again, Peele is doing something wildly specific and, film after film, wildly popular. He trusts his vision and his point of view.


Many people create content that is completely generic for fear of offending someone. What they end up doing is creating content that is completely forgettable and lacks the ability to engage anyone at all.


Instead, look for ways to differentiate your service by going narrower, not broader. Your SEO will become more effective with a narrower focus. Your content will improve with a narrower focus. Your marketing will be more effective when you're narrowing down and talking to fewer people, not more.


For real estate agents, this might look like becoming a specialist in a specific neighborhood or in a specific market segment. It might look like learning a lot about farm and land or about working with divorcing couples or heirs who are navigating the probate process.


For content writers, it might look like specializing in a specific industry or a specific type of content. It might look like becoming an expert in sales-oriented content and keeping stats on the effectiveness of the work you do.


I say it all the time, but it bears repeating: Being everything to a small segment of the market is better than being nothing to the whole market. Stop trying to please everyone. Please a few people.


Develop your expertise and share it so that you become the go-to for your segment. They'll talk about you to each other, recommend you to each other, refer folks to you, introduce folks to you, and fanboy/fangirl over you.


There's riches in the niches. Go get 'em.


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