Fred Armisen On How To Niche Down

All the marketing people will tell you to find your niche. Which is fine. It’s good advice and you should take it.

I’ll find mine eventually. Maybe. But in the meantime, I’ll admire people who have already figured it out. Especially in a way that doesn’t feel so infinitely narrow.

Like Fred Armisen.

Here he is telling some jokes, causing Conan to point out, “You’re making 3 people happy.”

3 people sure sounds like a niche to me.

If you’re a drummer, definitely watch this clip. It’s got a few samples of Armisen’s special that was focused on jokes only drummers would understand.

If you’re not a drummer, still watch this, but only watch Conan O’Brien’s face, expressions, and comments.

The drum jokes are not for him.

But the comedy is.

Which is the funny detail people leave out when they talk about niches.

Every niche is part of something bigger. Just like every room has a corner. A niche is just a corner with a special description.

“Oh, it’s in the dining room, in the corner behind your grandfather’s chair.”

Niches. The tiny parts of bigger markets that have particular descriptions, and occasionally but not always – names.

Back to Armisen. His niche might really resonate with a few people. They’ll be dying with laughter. But, the jokes can still appeal to more people too. Appreciators of the genre of comedy will get it. So will people who like to laugh when others start laughing first and then they find themselves giggling curious.

Niches amplify the personal. Or more specifically, niches help others define your persona because you’ve simplified things to something you can shout, like “jokes only drummers will get!” Finding one is a lot like finding your passion or purpose or whatever people will sell you a course to uncover.

A niche always comes from a nugget. A gold one, a chicken one, a metaphorical idea one- you pick, it’s your niche after all. But the nugget is the thing you found. The idea or insight or silly cymbal wing nut. It’s YOUR nugget(s).

Nuggets are easy to notice. They’re whatever your brain gets all excited over. They’re whatever you can’t wait to tell somebody else. If it’s good, and if they’re the right person to share it with, they tell somebody else too. And if we want to find our niche, we should watch how the second person tells the third person who gave them this nugget.

But a niche isn’t a nugget and a nugget isn’t a niche(!).

Niches are social things. Nuggets are personal things.

Niches already have “product-market fit.” Nuggets may or may not. They do if you found the nugget exploring a niche. They don’t if you have a nugget but aren’t sure if it has any traction beyond your curiosity.

My revelation on niches and nuggets is it lets you engineer ideas from either perspective. Let’s take it back to Armisen for a second.

Armisen’s a musician. He’s spent plenty of time in drum stores. His observations are his nuggets. Me describing him and all this – it’s his niche. It’s a corner of the comedy room where musicians hang out to laugh.

Musicians are a broader market in an even broader market of non-musicians. Drummers is a niche. All are externally valued, and only understood in respective layers. The drummer jokes Armisen specifically wants to tell are his nuggets. He presents them to a defined niche, and if successful, to even broader markets on Conan, to prove their value. In this case, it works. Well enough at least.

This balance, between niches and nuggets, is what Armisen is teaching us here. Not just to find our passion or purpose, but how to be purposefully passionate.

Find your nugget from an existing niche. OR, find your nugget and find a niche it fits into. No matter what, you’ll have to share your nugget with some size of a market. If you’re unsure of your niche, watch how people share your nuggets and pay attention, because they’ll lead you to your niche.

Go explore. Here’s Armisen killing it: