Niche marketing has quite the number of people or businesses that share similar interests, passions or business needs.
The wants and needs for this particular group can easily be identifiable and targeted by their specific marketing strategies. (And no I’m not going to throw anybody’s strategy under the bus for free.)
But that’s besides the point. I want to talk about the niche.
Okay now, if you didn’t catch the first sentence, there are so many businesses trying to make a profit on the internet and that may leave you with the question “how in the blue hell you are going to compete?”
Well the answer is that you probably can’t compete with the large websites that cater to a general audience, but you may have more success if you target a small niche market and try to dominate that sum bitch there.
There will always be niche markets to fill.
Even as the competition increases, so does the demand as more and more people are using the internet that are looking for information, looking for products, and different communities relating to their business, hobbies and passions.
So even if you choose a niche that already has a fair amount of competition, good. Now it’s time to use that brain.
Try sorting through and narrowing down a new take on the subject, or offering a slightly different angle than your competitors can allow you to dominate that niche.
In this article I go over:
Sitting and staring at your computer screen trying to come up with a brilliant idea for a successful niche is unlikely to bring you results. However, there are lots of ways you can use to start generating some ideas for the niche topic and thankfully most of them are pretty straight forward.
The step-by-step approach outlined below is the method many find very effective.
So what do you love to do?
What could you focus on every day for hours a day?
Starting an online business about something you enjoy, or are interested in is going to be much easier than focusing on a topic you think is boring as hell. Trying to explain technology in the today’s world is almost similiar to pulling teeth between everybody involved.
When you find that topic, you will be spending a great deal of time working on it. You’re going to find yourself writing about it, researching it, answering questions on it, and networking with people that are passionate about it. Not to mention creating your own version of internet marketing strategy.
Choosing a topic that you love is only going to make life easier and more enjoyable, but most importantly, it will increase your chances of success by making your value more convincing.
Selecting a topic that you have a certain degree of knowledge about is also a good idea.
Look, you don’t need to be an expert; the amount of research you will have to do will soon make you one anyway, but having a basic understanding of your niche, including common jargon and terminology is a good idea.
One of my favorite expressions goes: “every master was once a beginner”. The great ones went through their adversities and opinionated critics. The secret is to get make sure you have the right research that helps you achieve the right amount of success. Whatever works for you, is how you define that knowledge.
Knowing a little bit about your niche will reduce the amount of work you have to do upfront plus it will also enable you to start producing some better content like articles, videos, etc. All of this while you are still learning more.
Having some prior knowledge of your topic is also going to help you to determine whether there is enough potential in your niche for you to base a whole business around.
What about special skills? Do you have any specialist skills that you could build a niche around?
If you can make use of specialist skills you have a better chance of making your website unique and developing new angles that will enable you to dominate your niche marketing strategy.
Some people choose a niche that they are interested in and wish to learn more about, but they already limit themselves by not possessing any knowledge about their topic.
This can be a good method if you don’t mind doing a lot of research upfront.
Perhaps you have an keen interest in the area of child development, but you never really had the time or opportunity to read and learn about it.
Now could be that opportunity.
Starting an online business about a specific subject allows you to immerse yourself completely in it and meet other people that are knowledgeable in that area.
Basing your business around something you would like to learn about is a great way to keep your enthusiasm fresh and motivate you to study and research your craft.
Sometimes if you choose a niche that you are already an expert in, you can find the subject becomes stale very quickly.
Business Building Exercise: So let’s say you’ve already listed areas or topics that you’re passionate about and ranked them the best to mediocre. By taking that same list write down a list of potential businesses from those passions.
For example, if you love cooking what about a gourmet baking business or gourmet candy making business. What about an information site with recipes etc.? …Use this page to brainstorm different keywords and ideas.
I believe in being an innovator. Tomorrow can be a wonderful age.
There is so much competition online that it is often beneficial to concentrate on a certain niche within a niche, or a micro-niche. In step 2 we will look at how to take your ideas and look for micro niches around them.
Some of the advantages of a micro niche are:
A buddy of mine recently had the idea to launch a discussion forum for working women. So her niche marketing was going to focus on women who work, sounds pretty easy and basic enough right?
Well when she started this venture, she had to look at all the potential micro niche markets. It was astonishing to see how many there were!
Here were a few examples that may or may not make good micro niche markets she could look into:
College graduates entering the workplace: A group that may be keen to join an internet based community, but not necessarily a profitable target audience.
Moms balancing a full time job and children: A group that will benefit hugely from advice and discussions with other women in the same situation.
Career women competing in male dominated industries: On first sight a profitable market, but will they have time to join a discussion forum?
Work at home moms: A good audience for online discussions as we all know how isolating working from home can be.
Women returning to work after raising children: A group that will benefit from advice at this daunting time.
Internet savvy widows returning to work after the death of their husbands: A surprisingly large and profitable audience, with the time to join online discussions.
Many of the above categories overlap, but it is still easy to see how difficult it would be to cater for all of these sub niche markets at once.
Researching each, and determining which to focus on is something that we will look at in more detail in Step 3. But in the meantime, here are a few other examples of sub-niches:
“Diet” is an extremely competitive and broad market.
To write directly to this market would be too difficult because you have all sorts of people looking for all sorts of diets for all sorts of reasons.
So rather than targeting everyone looking to lose weight, you’re better off targeting a smaller number of customers within the wider diet market.
For example, let’s pick a few diet niches may be:
And so on. In each of the cases above you are aiming at a set group of people who are looking for something very specific.
You can also target a specific demographic within a wide market.
Here’s an example:
Instead of targeting all customers within the diet market you can concentrate on a specific group of people such as…
Women over 35
Men over 40
Moms who just had a baby
Women going through menopause
And so on.
In each of the cases above you’re aiming at a very specific group of people. But in example one you’re choosing to target a wider range of people looking for a specific diet plan.
In example two you’re concentrating on a specific group of people but the products you promote to them include a wider variety. You are always better off choosing a market first and then the products you will market to them.
For example, if you choose “low fat diets” as your market. You will now target only people specially looking for low fat diets online.
One school of thought is that this makes great sense because people will type an exact keyword search term into a search engine and they will find your website which specifically caters to those keywords.
But if you only go as far as to research the keywords people are looking for which are related to low fat diets, you still don’t really know who your customer is.
However, if you choose a niche market as shown in example two such as “moms who just had a baby” then you know specifically and categorically who your customer is – moms who just had a baby and want to lose weight.
This will make your marketing more effective because everything you do will be geared towards “moms who just had a baby and want to lose weight.”
It’s really important that you make this distinction early on because although it may seem like a “simple” thing actually a lot of people don’t get it.
And if you think that a micro niche may be too small a market think again – from selling mustard, to swords, to gourmet treats for dogs, to organic parrot food – there are extremely tiny niche businesses online making a very profitable living.
Here are a few suggestions for coming up with micro niches, using the ideas you have come up with in step 1:
1. Look on Amazon.com
Amazon.com is a perfect research forum for interesting sub niches due to its vast database of reference book and other materials. Simply type your niche idea into the search function on Amazon and have a look through the results for different angles and aspects of that niche.
2. Check out the competition
Surfing online for sites relating to the niche your plan to market, can be a great way to get ideas for micro niches. What are your competitors doing? What angles have they taken on your subject area? Are there areas that they have not covered very well?
Look at competitors who are paying for sponsored links on search engine results pages.
The chances are they are making a reasonable income if they can afford to pay for regular advertising so take a look at their sites to see what they are doing and what type of products they are selling.
3. Visit forums relating to your niche
Online discussion forums can provide a wealth of information if you are looking for a profitable mirco niche. What are people talking about? What kind of questions are they asking? Can you identify a need that is obviously not being met because customers are still asking about it?
You could join discussions yourself and ask members to comment on your ideas, or suggest aspects of a topic that they would like to see more information about.
Make sure you partake in a few discussions and make worthwhile comments and posts before you start asking for advice.
This will help members to see that you are serious and knowledgeable about the subject and they are more likely to offer you advice.
4. Use social networks like Facebook groups
The large social networks such as Facebook now have many specialist groups made up from members that share a particular interest.
There is a good chance that there will be groups relating to your niche subject area so do a quick search and join any networks you think might provide inspiration for sub niche topics.
5. Books and magazines
Just because you are launching an online business, your research does not all have to done on the web.
People still relate to books and magazines that can be relating to your niche that can still be great places to look for inspiration. Magazines are particularly useful as they are very up to date on the latest trends and topical issues.
In addition they often have a large section dedicated to advertising.
Look at the products being advertised to get some ideas.
Again, if a business is paying to place an ad in a magazine they are probably making a profit. Make a note of the website address for any interesting products or businesses, and do some follow up research.
6. Use article directories for niches
There’s a wealth of information you’re able to graps in various article directories that is very neglected when new businesses are researching potential sub niche markets.
Again, try going through different article directories. They tend to be fairly up to date, and can provide original insight into niche topics and possible new angles.
Business Planning Exercise: Grab that list of potential businesses, the one you completed a few pages ago. Explore possibilities to make your ideas more specific. What potential niches fit your passions?
Once you have your micro niche, it’s time to make sure it is a real money maker.
Why is it that with all the information available today on how to be successful in small business, so few people really are?
The answer to Michael Gerber’s question is simple, people don’t do the research.
It is not uncommon for those new to internet businesses to stop at step 2.
After all they have an idea that they are satisfied, and they are pretty sure there is a pretty good demand for it, what is left to do? That depends, you do want to make money, right?
The answer is some detailed assessable analysis of supply and demand for your target niche. Or in other words, look to see exactly how many people are looking for your specific type of niche with topics using the search engines, and how many other sites you will be competing with for that search engine traffic.
There are a number of tools you can use to do research into your niche subject.
Two of the most popular are the Google Adwords keyword planner tool, which is free and gives you basic information, and Word Tracker, which you have to pay for, but which provides more detailed information.
Start measuring your demand
By using a tool such as the Google Adwords keyword planner you can find out how many times a keyword associated with your website was searched for in the previous month.
This tool is simple to use, you just enter a single keyword or a keyword phrase related to your niche and the tool will generate;
* Related keyword phrases that include your search term
* An estimated number of times your term, as well as all related terms, was searched for during the last month
If you click on any of the related terms in the list of results, the tool will further drill it down, showing you more variations, and the number of times each of these variations was searched for during the last month.
Measure your supply
There are various tools for measuring supply, but the simplest way to get an idea of the competition you are facing is to use one of the major search engines such as Google or Bing.
If you enter the same search term you used to measure demand in your chosen search engine, you will be able to see the number of webpages that the search engine finds, that contain the same keyword phrase.
The figure you initially see can often be very daunting, as the search engines pick up every webpage that has any combination of any of the words that make up your keyword phrase.
In order to get a more accurate idea of supply, enter your search term within inverted commas, so you only get webpages that contain that exact phrase.
Search term = work from home moms
Search engine = Google
Webpages found for work from home moms = 429,000,000 results
Webpages found for “work from home moms” = 1,340,000 results
(at time of writing)
As you can see from the example above, you get a much lower result by placing your keyword phrase in inverted commas, and this gives you a good idea of how many other online businesses you are competing against.
Having fun with statistics – really.
What is better than determining how much profit is possible? Using demand and supply you can determine the profitability of your niche
There is rarely a guarantee that your choice of niche will ensure a successful business which will gain a high search engine ranking.
There are some ‘rule of thumb’ style calculations you can do to check your chances of competing in your chosen market.
Try this formula:
Demand / Supply * 12 > 1
The above calculation takes the demand figure you determined from your Keyword tool and divide it by the supply figure you have using your chosen search engine.
This figure is multiplied by twelve to take into account what the demand figure is monthly.
The result of this sum should be more than one for you to have any chance of competing in this market.
Ideally you should aim for a niche that achieves results of between five and ten for the majority of its keyword phrases.
A final step in ensuring that you have the right niche topic for your online business is defining products to sell, or services to offer relating to that particular niche.
You might have selected a niche that you know you will enjoy, with a favorable ratio of demand and supply, but if you can’t make a profit from that niche it is unlikely to be a good choice.
Now the type of questions you should ask yourself depends on the type of business you want to set up:
Again some research into what your competitors are doing can provide the answer to a lot of these questions.
If other sites within your niche are successfully selling e-books on your subject the chances are you will be able to as well.
Be cauious of starting to provide a product or service within your niche that is not currently being provided.
At times this may mean you have spotted a gap in the market, and your business will be a huge success, but more often it means that the demand just isn’t there.
Playing it safe when you first launch your business, and not trying to re-invent the wheel is usually the best approach when selling online.
Once your business is up and running and generating some income you can start experimenting intelligently with new products and ideas.
Here is another way of gauging the potential market for a product within your niche:
Running your ad campaigns for a few days should give you some valuable information on the potential of your product idea.
As well as the comments and suggestions from prospective customers, it enables you to develop an interest that your product generates.
It also gives you the e-mail addresses of customers that are willing to engage with your business to promote further products to at a later date.
Business Planning Exercise: Brainstorm potential products for your niche. What ideas come to mind? Go crazy here. No one will read this but you.
If your main source of income within your niche will be by promoting affiliate marketing, ensure that there are several products to choose from.
You don’t want to spend a lot of time building a website only to find out the product you’re promoting is taken off the market or doesn’t sell well, etc.
Niche marketing is fun. Finding a specific group of people that share your same interests, passions and hobbies is fun and stimulating. Making money by filling their specific needs is even more enjoyable.
You now have a better grasp to find your ideal niche, a niche that you’ll not only enjoy being a part of but a niche that will help you reach your financial goals.
What are some of your favorite niches?