Making niche strategy work - Carl Morenikeji

In 2011, when Scaramanga was only four years into selling vintage and antique Indian furniture and interiors alongside our vintage-style leather satchels, we got an unusual order.

Scaramanga owner Carl Morenikeji is celebrating a Hollywood hat-trick of 3 movie supply roles in 3 months.
Scaramanga owner Carl Morenikeji is celebrating a Hollywood hat-trick of 3 movie supply roles in 3 months.

A props buyer for Tim Burton movie Dark Shadows wanted antique trunks and chests for a Liverpool Docks scene. It wasn’t a market I’d considered, but the prestigious order was welcome.

Then another props order arrived – for antique brass padlocks, to be used in Bilbo’s house in The Hobbit.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Ten years on from first seeing our products on the silver screen, we’ve supplied 26 films as well as many TV shows.

Scaramanga Carl Morenikeji

Here are 10 lessons for SMEs from our experience.

1. Niche strategy works – as long as your niche/s is/are sufficiently resilient to economic downturns and discretionary spending squeezes, niche is a good basic or emergent strategy. Carefully chosen multiple diverse niches reduce overall risk.

2. Be the best in your niche – consumer reality is unavoidable - reflected in product reviews, repeat orders, referrals and reputation. You have to excel to make niche focus work.

3. Excel at Customer Service & Support – be that supplier people know they can always rely on. Because happy customers become fans and advocates, more likely to write great reviews and post content you can use as proof of your excellence. An Institute of Customer Service survey found 33% of customers would pay MORE to guarantee excellent service. Only 12% would sacrifice service for lower price.

4. Think long-term on every sale - do Relationship Marketing for a long-term snowball of customers and orders. In 2012, we had two films released using our products. This year it’s 11 film and TV productions from a range of buyers, many of whom are repeat customers or referrals. That first buyer still buys and has referred us many times.

5. Always think win-win – customers and suppliers are more likely to help you if you consider their needs as well as your own. It’s one of our Values to worth ethically with suppliers, with whom we’ve developed long-term relationships.

6. Use PR to level the playing field with bigger rivals – the right story to the right media gets key messages to target customers. We’ve used a local PR professional to increase brand awareness and orders. The coverage for supplying No Time To Die resulted in brand name searches up 185% and website users up 50%. Business and product features in key media have boosted traffic and sales between news stories.

7. Use media coverage to amplify your social – posting media coverage on your social boosts engagement and reach because it’s a third-party endorsement from a trusted source.

8. Use Storytelling in your Marketing & PR – facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story because stories engage us emotionally and therefore influence our decisions powerfully. Identify and tell your engaging stories across your channels repeatedly.

9. Use your Purpose & Values to connect emotionally – the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found 52% of people in the UK buy or advocate brands based on their values and beliefs. So talk regularly about your purpose and values and show how you act on them.

10. Build a network of allies and cherish those relationships – from suppliers to local business support bodies, they can all help with challenges and amplify your successes.

Carl Morenikeji, Managing Director at Scaramanga


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.