It was so unremarkable

Philip Morgan

When I lived in Nashville, TN in the 90's I drove the Natchez Trace parkway twice. Not back-to-back, but a year or two apart.On one of those road trips, I remember taking a quick side trip to Muscle Shoals, AL (population 13,831 in the year 2016)Before I go any further in this story, in case you don't know anything about Muscle Shoals, here is a partial list of musicians who recorded good or freaking GREAT music in a little studio there called Muscle Shoals Sound Studio:

  • Cher
  • Boz Scaggs
  • R. B. Greaves
  • Herbie Mann
  • Rolling Stones
  • Staple Singers
  • Paul Simon
  • Canned Heat
  • Rod Stewart
  • Art Garfunkel
  • Bob Seger
  • Blackfoot
  • Bob Seger
  • Cat Stevens
  • Mary MacGregor
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Bob Seger
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Bob Dylan
  • Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show
  • Helen Reddy
  • Julian Lennon
  • Black Keys

I knew the town Muscle Shoals by the reputation of this one little recording studio. The same little town also has or had a second recording studio called FAME Studios. The number of hits that were recorded in that studio is simply staggering; possibly more than that of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.So naturally I was curious to see what kind of town was host to so much musical greatness.Looking back on it, I think I expected some kind of glow to be emanating from the whole town. Or maybe something in the air or water that just felt special.In reality, a quick drive through Muscle Shoals revealed an absolutely unremarkable town. It had the same kind of dusty strip malls, BBQ joints, and gas stations as every other similar-sized town anywhere in the entire state. Absolutely nothing about it seemed special.When on a separate road trip I drove through Roswell, NM, that was not the case at all! The whole town was littered... no, it was festooned with freaky, kitchy UFO stuff. Nashville, TN puts on the same kind of display of its musical heritage for the benefit of tourists and bored locals. Memphis, TN does the same.I'm not dissing Muscle Shoals. My point is, I get the sense that when many of you think about focusing on a vertical market, you get the same feeling I did when I drove through Muscle Shoals.**"Where's the magic? The developers I see on seem to be doing very well by specializing in a vertical market! Why doesn't Market X seem super interesting and magical to me?"**Maybe if on my drive through Muscle Shoals I'd looked up the address of one of those two studios and popped in and asked for a tour I might have come away with a completely different impression. I bet money I would have. But, I didn't.I just expected the town to impress me in an obvious way that I could notice at 40 miles per hour through the window of my truck. It didn't, and I kept on driving.That's my fault, not the town's fault. Some things are amazing if you just slow down enough to notice them, or... gasp... park the car and get out and walk around.Many vertical markets are the same. They're interesting, and you can develop economically valuable expertise and a competitive advantage by combining your software expertise with a bit of domain knowledge about the vertical.So as you're thinking about how you might vertically specialize, slow down the car enough to really see what's special about the verticals you're considering.And if you'd like help with this process, check out http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comClick here to get more info on this program sent to your inbox: /inquiry/positioning-accelerator-program/-P