Live from NEMOA: Be first in a small niche

(Direct Newsline) Portsmouth, NH–If you’re looking to target a small niche, being the first in that market will make you the one to beat, said Don Devine, president of specialty cataloger Lighthouse Depot. In a session at the New England Mail Order Association conference here, Devine said that in his experience, the first one in a small niche will be the survivor.

Lighthouse Depot, which sells lighthouse-themed gifts, first mailed in August 1994 to 136,000 names. The mailing resulted in a 3.8% response and $295,895 in sales. For its first year, the company reported $750,000 in sales, $200,000 more than the $550,000 it had projected. Circulation quickly grew to 5.5 million within the next five years. Twenty-four percent of orders are now generated online.

The company continually faces two big challenges, Devine said. One is finding new prospects; Lighthouse Depot buys space ads in 20 national publications regularly. The other challenge is convincing vendors to create lighthouse-themed products the company can have a catalog exclusive on.