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The PKM Niche is Crowded

To be successful in the PKM niche, I argue that counterintuitively PKM should be used as a tool to become big in another realm of idea space.

To be a successful small business marketer you need laser-like focus on a narrow target market, sometimes called a niche. (Location 471)
if the ad just rolls out a broad laundry list of services, then it’s not speaking to either prospect, therefore it’s not relevant, and it will likely be ignored by both market segments. (Location 493)
Targeting a tight niche allows you to become a big fish in a small pond. It allows you to dominate a category or geography in a way that is impossible by being general. The type of niches that you want to go after are “an inch wide and a mile deep.” An inch wide meaning it is a very highly targeted subsection of a category. A mile deep meaning there’s a lot of people looking for a solution to that specific problem. Once you dominate one niche, you can expand your business by finding another profitable and highly targeted niche, then dominate that one also. (Location 497)
How did price suddenly become irrelevant? That is the beauty of serving a niche. Whether you do heart surgery or offer cellulite treatment, you can now charge far more for your services than by being a generalist. You’re perceived differently by your prospects and customers. A specialist is sought after rather than shopped on price. A specialist is much more highly respected than a jack-of-all-trades. A specialist is paid handsomely to solve a specific problem for their target market. (Location 506)

The PKM niche has become insanely busy lately. I've noticed a few things about this:

  • devs are doing great work to move things forward, driven by "thorns in their side (check out the dev section in the weekly Obsidian Roundup, the use cases are so broad reaching)"
  • PKM is kind of "all or nothing", meaning most outsiders don't get involved because the buy-in is so steep
    • conversely, there is an massive amount of groupthink as info gets passed around between heavy PKM users, and very little disseminated to non PKM users
  • content is getting repetitive as multiple apps that do basically the same thing in a different coat of paint or minor ideology tweak cause fanatics to drop everything and start from scratch every n months[1]

Avoid Meta-Speak

As a very astute HN commenter put on BHOV-2023:

Hypothesis: people who use these “second brain” knowledge systems spend more time writing about using them, then actually using them.

Meta-PKM is the act of using PKM systems to think only about epistemology. This is a trap. It becomes too easy to spend time uncritically, and not testing if the tenants of PKM fit the broader idea-verse. Putting other fields of study through the PKM filter helps improve PKM.

knowledge held immune from criticism never can be improved! (Location 4052)

It's becoming more and more difficult to be a "big fish" in the PKM market, but I've noticed that few people are doing a simple, powerful tactic: take the tenants of PKM back to your target market. In other words, use PKM as a shortcut to become big in another realm of idea space.

Similar: The Zero Sum Game of Niches - 202301051903

Clever: Windfalls Aren't Always a Blessing - 202301110058

Chaotic: (Processing) New Rules of Posture and Rich Dad, Poor Dad - 202301110221

  1. this happens in the web dev space as well: jquery > angular > react > vue > nextjs > svelte > on and on until the heat death of the universe …

Too Much Jargon

Always choose clarity over cleverness. (Location 1104)

The more convoluted your verbiage, the less likely your audience receives the totality of your meaning.

Pet peeve: jargon-ized words in computing and marketing. How many man hours are lost to words like "call-to-action ideation funnel" or tech products with names like Charalampos (I'm guilty of this one)
devs naming microservices.jpeg
Most products are missing a big opportunity if their copy focuses on selling the feature, instead of its benefit. Marketing efforts should concentrate on answering the consumer’s question, “What’s in it for me?” #ExplosiveGrowthTip 17: When writing copy, sell the benefit, not the feature. Are you selling the benefit? (Location 819)

The Elusive Elevator Pitch

The next time someone asks what you do for a living, it’s your cue to deliver an elevator pitch. It’s a perfect opportunity to convey your marketing message on a regular basis in many different settings. Obviously, you don’t want to come across as a pushy, obnoxious salesperson, so it’s important to structure your elevator pitch properly. Most elevator pitches suffer from the same problem as overinflated job titles. It leaves the recipient confused or thinking “what a douchebag” rather than the intended effect of impressing them. Bad marketing is highly product-focused and self-focused. Good marketing, especially direct response marketing, is always customer and problem/solution focused, and that’s exactly how we want our elevator pitch to be. We want to be remembered for what problem we solve rather than for some impressive but incomprehensible title or line of business. (Location 822)
So how do you effectively communicate these three components in the space of about 30 seconds? The best formula I’ve seen is: You know [problem]? Well, what we do is [solution]. In fact, [proof]. (Location 830)

This is really hard for me to come up with. Publishing random thoughts doesn't really solve a problem, perhaps except my own curiosity? (202301071340)

You Don't Want What You Think You Want

We want to get into the mind of our prospect. What do they really want? It’s rarely the thing you are selling; it’s usually the result of the thing you are selling. The difference may seem subtle, but it’s huge. For (Location 726)

We don't want to use social media like YouTube and Twitter -- we like the status or potential route for income they provide. As a website owner, I spend a lot of effort trying to convey this to others, that long term gains can never be truly realized until the source of why you want to create is unearthed.

Another example from a different sphere:

  1. I want to go to this nice new bar in town, that has a $60 cover
  2. (subtext) I want to go to an exclusive club
  3. (subtext x 2) I want to be a person who feels wealthy enough to go to a $60 cover club
  4. (subtext x 3) I want to signal that I belong in a place like this by dressing up
  5. (subtext x 4) I want to fit in with people I want to be around
  6. (subtext x 5) I want to be loved
A quote often attributed to Henry Ford puts it well: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” (Location 874)


Each one has different thoughts and feelings; each one has a different point of view. The programming in the mind — all of those agreements we have made — are not necessarily compatible with each other. Every agreement is like a separate living being; it has its own personality and its own voice. There are conflicting agreements that go against other agreements and on and on until it becomes a big war in the mind. The mitote is the reason humans hardly know what they want, how they want it, or when they want it. They don’t agree with themselves because there are parts of the mind that want one thing, and other parts that want exactly the opposite. (Location 488)

To Stoke the Flames Vs Burn Low and Slow

Early-stage companies are obsessively focused on growth,[1] usually at the expense of retention. That methodology is backwards, because retention should be the north-star metric of any early-stage product. If someone builds a great product that users keep coming back to, it will be easy to figure out how to grow it (raise money, spend money on acquiring users, ask users to share it, etc.) (Location 1733)
Marketing a product with a low NPS is essentially saying to potential customers, “Hey, my product sucks, come check it out.” (Location 1738)

Ironically, this is one the core tactics of growing slowly. It's finding a formula that works, and then deeply questioning if adding new processes will cause more harm than good.

^5876cf ↩︎