Entrepreneurs love hitting on untapped potential. There are tons of product opportunities that get overlooked because most people assume they won't sell. But entrepreneurs have the imagination to see beyond other people's assumptions. They see opportunity where others see nothing.

Take opera, for example. Many people think of opera as an antiquated, boring art form that doesn't appeal to anyone under the age of 75 or under a net worth of $1 billion. With these assumptions commonplace, there's nearly zero media coverage of the industry, beyond paparazzi shots of celebrities arriving at select events at the Met. But how does anyone actually know opera doesn't appeal to a wider audience and a younger generation? No one's ever really made an effort to give it mass appeal.

What's an opera lover to do? Enter David Salazar and his brother, Francisco. These Millennials grew up in an opera-loving family, and they believe their generation doesn't know what it's missing. That's why they founded OperaWire, a website dedicated to daily coverage of the opera world at large. Since its launch in December 2016, OperaWire has become a leading publication in the industry, with its content cited by other publications and shared by companies and artists around the globe. The site publishes over 60 articles per week, and its readership spans over 150 countries.

Here's how Salazar has connected with so many people in such a niche market, and how you can, too:

1. Deliver the Unexpected

Working in a niche market means you'll be fighting against the presumed narrative from the very beginning. If you give them only what they expect, you're fulfilling their low expectations. This isn't to say you shouldn't also deliver the basics.

"We started out with the expected content--news stories, feature pieces, and interviews. This established our credibility, especially when we started landing interviews with the biggest opera stars in just our first few weeks," David Salazar notes. He goes on, "But we also gave people something that few other publications were doing."

Salazar has had fun finding new and creative ways of delivering content and appealing to more people. He says, "We were including news about independent opera companies. Then we started adding Opera Quizzes to let our readers have fun. Even with the way we approach reviews and commentary, we've given our readers a unique approach that many appreciate. And they've responded in a number of positive ways to this diverse content."

They also have an "Opera for Beginners" section on the site, introducing new audiences to the art form and helping allure more people.

2. Build a Passionate Team

When you're working in a niche market, it can be challenging to find people who share enthusiasm for the product. Even if it takes longer and costs more money, it may just be a worthy investment. To get people excited about opera, OperaWire ensures its team members are excited about the art form, and does so by sourcing reviews from writers around the world.

"The people that write for OperaWire are a key component of what makes OperaWire work," Salazar explains. "They all love opera, and their passion shows in everything that they write."

Salazar noted, however, that he doesn't restrict his team to only opera devotees, noting that some of his writers started out without much knowledge of opera. "Some of them have not stuck around, but those who have immersed themselves in the art form have become experts in their own right," he says. "I have one writer who started off knowing nothing about opera. He started off doing straight news stories. But over time it was clear that he was falling in love with the art form. He was listening to music and buying scores, and his writing started to reflect this passion. Now he writes some of the most detailed reviews I've seen."

The content improves, and becomes more fun because readers can feel the passion.

3. Cast a Wide Net

In a niche industry, chances are you won't convert everyone. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try! Salazar says, "You obviously can't appeal to all of them or concentrate on all of them in the same way, but it doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to make everyone feel included."

This goes for both the audience and for the segments of the industry. "In the opera world, there are the renowned companies and stars, but there are other subsets of independent companies and lesser-known artists whose work is just as essential to the fabric of the opera world at large," Salazar says. "In fact, OperaWire has become a platform for these companies to have their voices heard on an international stage, and they reciprocate this opportunity by helping OperaWire expand." 

He goes on, "Those are the ones sharing our content and getting the word out about OperaWire. They are the ones actively helping us grow, and we feel it essential to give them a voice on our platform and provide balance in coverage."

OperaWire also features a great deal of historical content, so new audience members can learn about the giants of the art and opera buffs can really dig in. It's the same content, but it accesses different segments of the audience for different reasons. Efficient for the business and compelling for the customer!

4. Get Personal on Social Media

In the modern era, people consume content across multiple platforms. Salazar says, "It's not enough just to have one account on one site; you need to be everywhere, but with a unified message. OperaWire utilizes all the standard social-media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as providing a weekly newsletter."

But for Salazar, just posting content isn't enough. "A lot of people know who we are because we make an effort to interact with users directly on social media. That includes opera lovers and even singers! We always respond to their comments on posts. We get involved and initiate conversations on Facebook groups about opera."  

This interaction pays dividends in other forms, too. "People email us directly with questions or to make comments," Salazar says, adding, "And many of them will come up to us at an event or performance to thank us for what we do."

Published on: Apr 17, 2019
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