A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO NICHE MARKETING

Niche Marketing

If everybody is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction. ” –Late Sam Walton, Entrepreneur

INTERNET MARKETING is huge, and if you’re just starting out, it might be difficult to make good money from it, because the stakes are very high. Instead, you should break it down and go smaller. Through this article, I will enlighten your knowledge-hungry brains about a modern sounding concept – NICHE MARKETING.

Things you should expect to learn on this page:

  • Niche Marketing – What is it?
  • Essentials of a classic niche market
  • Discover your niche
  • Why niche marketing?
  • Defining steps for niche marketing
  • Challenges you’ll face
  • Concluding comments

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NICHE MARKETING – WHAT IS IT?

First things first. A niche market is a subset of the overall market. You can term it as a sub section of the market in general, which has not been tapped to a large extent. Niche marketing is simply the application of all the marketing efforts towards this specific segment of the total market. It involves marketing the firm’s products and services towards a distinct class of consumers. What it basically does is identifying the needs, wants and desires poorly addressed or not at all by other firms, deriving solutions and delivering it to the demanding segment, thereby satisfying their needs.

Targeting a niche market doesn’t imply that you are excluding potential clients. Rather you are focusing your marketing efforts at a specific market segment which is more likely to buy from your business firm. Niche markets have high potential to flourish thanks to a subdued competition compared to any product in the overall market. Niche consumers are more likely to remain loyal to the brands.

types of niche marketing

Layers in Niche Market

To make things easier for you, consider the above diagram. Let’s say the orange part denotes a beverage industry. This industry itself is a compilation of different submarkets like alcohol, cold drinks, caffeinated drinks etc. A niche market would be a market of say energy drinks. But a prudent business would dwell in further and attempt to reach out to the definite section of the population. Thus, it may venture into energy drinks for an age group ranging from adolescence to the late twenties who are involved in sports. This is the micro niche carved out by the firm. If it wishes to go more specific, it may peel out more layers within this small area.

Niche marketing might sound to you as a new age concept. But the fact is that every business, whether local or international, takes off keeping a niche segment in mind. Be it Pepsi, Nike or KFC, they all started it small and gradually went on to become global players in their respective fields.

Niche marketing works on the “Smaller is Bigger” mantra. One of the biggest mistakes done by new business entrants is when they fail to cut their coat according to their cloth. Harboring ambitions of capturing 100 percent of industry share is no sin, but it requires an amalgamation of different factors such as time, strategy, workforce etc. The main point is to stay patient and focus on a specific class which has been left untouched.

ESSENTIALS OF A CLASSIC NICHE MARKET:

            If one needs to understand the dynamics of a niche market, it is essential that one gets a feel of how a near ideal niche market looks like. The factors of a good niche market are:

  1. URGENT NEEDS:

An ideal niche market would consist of people who have a serious problem at hand and are raring to get solutions for the same. If you provide them with ready solutions they are ready to deal with you again and again.

 

  1. PASSIONATE PURCHASING:

If your firm is an entrant in the niche market and people are spending abundant amounts of money on your products/ services just because they are passionate about them, and that they derive pleasure from consuming the same, you are in a classic niche market.

 

  1. ONE OF A KIND:

A major indicator of a good niche market is its unique nature. It should stand apart from the rest of the crowd of market components.

 

  1. HIGH VISIBILITY/ ACCESSIBILITY

One of the prime criterions for being a good niche market is being visible to the consumers who are most likely to get solutions for their problems. The market should facilitate easy accessibility to such customers so that their requirements can be fulfilled at the earliest.

 

  1. MAXIMISE USE OF SKILLS AND TALENT

A favourable niche market provides freedom for the enterprise to display its skills and abilities to the fullest. When it comes to general markets, one is bound by the restrictions on the execution of certain strategies to minimize risk component.

 

  1. LONG TERM VIEW:

A good niche is the one which envisions its goals from a long-term perspective. Short sighted goals often lead to short term, hasty decisions which damage the firm’s future prospects.

DISCOVER YOUR NICHE

            You are thorough with the concept of niche marketing. However, the toughest part for any budding entrepreneur is to realize his niche. Incorrect judgments might culminate into irreparable losses and as a result, it becomes necessary to make informed decisions for the same. Here is a quick guide on how you can discover your niche.

  1. LISTING:

Make a whole list of all the products and services you would offer to a segment if you are in business. Stay as specific as you can. The trend is currently for targeting the minutest of the whole population and creating website traffic.

 

  1. FOCUS ON YOUR WANTS

You need to strike a balance between your needs and the requirements of the target market though it is usually said that the latter should be given more preference. Research the market. Make a list of what you are able to offer and check whether they are in sync with the niche segment’s demands. Watch your pattern of devising solutions and improvise on it whenever necessary.

 

  1. SEE FROM CUSTOMER’S EYES

You are going to conduct your business in an arena where the Consumer is the King. It is pretty obvious that he/ she will be interested in products that will suit his/ her requirements. So ponder on whether you are able to grasp the nerve of the target audience. Work upon how your business can satisfy their immediate needs.

 

  1. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

You have fantastic ideas in your mind. Dreams of gaining ever-growing website traffic and raking millions from it have already sent you on cloud nine. You ought to climb down for a minute. Have you defined your target audience?

This is one of the common fault lines shown by aspiring businesses, who have everything in place, who have all the resources at their disposal, yet they lack direction. Study the problem. See which strata of the population it affects the most. Conduct a niche market analysis on whether they would forgo the expensive general market goods for your need – specific products. Ask questions.

 

“Products come and go, but niche audiences stick around forever. When you choose a niche audience and take the time to understand their needs deeply, a whole new world of options opens up to you.”

–          Chris  Ducker,

 Outsourcing guru and Internet business entrepreneur.

 

  1. DEMOGRAPHICS

Carefully research and identify every possible demographic group that might be interested in your specialty skills. Packaging your skills in different ways often will lead to new niches in which to market successfully. Think of needs that people have, and how your skills can help meet those needs. Examples: Age, sex, income, occupation, location etc.

  1. KEYWORD RESEARCH

Probably one of the most economical ways to know what the market needs. Resort to GKP (Google Keyword Planner), Buzzsumo, Keyword.io etc. to get the latest and hot keywords, their respective trends, volumes, related words etc. both at the local and global levels. But mere keyword research isn’t going to do the trick. You will need to dwell in further and go on collecting information for such keywords tend to be misleading at times.

 

Keyword research in niche marketing

When you are searching for keyword trends, see to it that the search volume is high and the competition low. This simply implies that customers are looking out for solutions, but are not getting adequate supply thanks to the lack of supply from the other end.

 

  1. PASSIONS AND INTERESTS

Usually, potential entrants are confused about what to choose – Passion or Money. As per my opinion, there is no point if you are going to start a business in which you have zero interest. You may be successful in the long run, but chances are you will loath and crib about your work nature.

At the same time, if you are following your passion and gaining nothing in return, it will sink the boat of your ambitions.

Thus, follow your passion but with terms and conditions apply. You must be well informed about the profit potential of your market, the investment required and whether the whole project is feasible to you. You will need to look at such prospects from all angles and then decide whether or not to take the final leap.

Niche related questions

Ask these questions while deciding on a niche

WHY NICHE MARKETING?

  1. IDEAL FOR STARTUPS

As I mentioned before, startups err when they look to reach out to a wider audience in a short span of time. Targeting a niche will enable access to ready customers provided their needs are met. The firm can concentrate its limited resources towards the target and stand out from the rest of the herd.

 

  1. THE EXPERT FIRM

Playing the business game in the niche market will eventually lead your firm towards specialization. It will become easier for the public to understand ‘what you stand for’ and thus, your visibility will see an upward trend within the niche market. Customers will flock to your firm’s outlets for meeting their needs since your business nature differentiates you from the other companies. The “Expert Firm” tag will remain etched with you more with experience and specialization.

 

  1. COST EFFICIENT

Niche marketing is extremely cost effective in nature. You need not spend on expensive marketing channels to garner web traffic and loads of attention. Stick to the basic modes of marketing like radio ads, cold calling etc. and you will sail through in the niche market.

Unlike in general marketing, niche marketing doesn’t endorse the firm’s idea of spreading itself too thin. Here, you are dealing with a limited number of clients who if served quality, will convert into repeat business. Not to forget the small number of clients served by the firm, which would require less investment.

 

  1. PERSONAL TOUCH

Niche marketing is all about selling to a segmented market. Some niche marketing firms resort to one to one direct marketing, which means personal interactions with the potential clients. This helps in connecting to the last consumer in the limited market.

 

  1. CUSTOMER BASE EXPANSION

Niche marketing is taking its products to the consumer’s doorstep. This can redefine the paradigm of marketing since you are able to predict the needs and wants of the end users. In this way, you will end up creating a plethora of opportunities and an ever increasing customer base.

 

  1. WORD TO MOUTH PROMOTION

When a niche market firm fulfills the consumer needs, it earns goodwill in the market. Naturally it spreads with every successful business thanks to good reviews given by the product users. Since the product appeals to the customers at a deeper level, it paves a way for word of mouth marketing.

 

  1. LESS COMPETITION

Niche marketers usually face less competition in the market, as they deal with a specific product for a small market segment. This is stark opposite to generalized marketing where market competition remains at its peak.

 

  1. BRAND LOYALTY

Products in a niche market are difficult to find in a generalized market. Thus, niche marketing has the potential to build a brand and instill a sense of brand loyalty in the minds of the consumers. Brand loyalty is the foundation for word to mouth marketing.

DEFINING STEPS FOR NICHE MARKETING

1. TACKLE YOUR CLIENTS’ UNIQUE NEEDS

 “Customer is the king of the market” is a saying in the business parlance. Even the finest marketing techniques will fall flat if you refrain from paying heed to this King.

Know your target market Inside Out. Just because you are targeting a very small portion of the entire market doesn’t mean you won’t conduct extensive research on the same. Try to understand their needs, preferences, habits, tastes etc. and accordingly work on your products.

If you seriously wish to get a pulse of the segment, GO SOCIAL MEDIA. 

LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. Pay attention to their worries, their problems, their complaints, their feedbacks. You need not break your head on how to understand the customer psychology. They will themselves open their minds to you. You must provide those channels to them so they can communicate with you.

be social to reach for niche

Also read7 digital marketing trends that will help upswing your business in 2016

Mere listening won’t do the job. Act on their reviews FAST. Firms who are in constant touch with their customers and solve their problems as fast as possible develop a sense of goodwill, not only in the client base but also among the general market. Rivals take a lead from you and try to follow your footsteps.  You earn the title of a Market Leader. And all this by simply making way for a two-way communication line between you and your consumers. What more can you expect?

Agreed, such things are easier said than done. The magnitude of the effects of such services may vary from industry to industry. But believe me, it is a thousand times better than earning the wrath of your product consumers, facing their backlash and helplessly watching as your customer base goes on eroding. It is important that you care for them. Such efforts will only strengthen your bond and would result in long-term business.

Also read: “HOW TO ADJUST YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO GET EFFECTIVE RESULTS

2. INTEGRATE YOUR PRODUCTS

You are done with tackling the complaints and client feedback. Now is the right time to jot down all the products and services your firm is going to offer to your niche clients. You will bring together all your products and combine it into one whole package. Market it directly to your customers using various marketing channels. See to it that you do not go overboard and deviate from your target segment. Keep your efforts and perseverance focused on your market. Your idea of cutting a niche is beginning to take shape in this stage.

3. PUBLISH QUALITY CONTENT

Nearly two decades ago, Bill Gates had stated “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. CONTENT IS KING”. Unsurprisingly, the last three words have become a mantra in the digital marketing arena.

Content marketing is content creation with the aim of distributing it, engaging with audiences, and attracting new customers and backlinks. 71% of B2B marketers use content marketing to generate leads. (Source: MarketingProfs). You can have a look at some of the best digital marketing firms. What keeps them ahead in the race is the high-quality content offered by them on their respective websites. In fact, content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less. (Source: Demand Metric). So there is no reason why you can’t use these to your advantage in the battlefield of the niche market.

 

 Content marketing for business

It is obvious that you should optimize your keywords to attract eyeballs for your content. Resort to link building, establishing backlinks, innovative and user-friendly content presentation to achieve the goal and emerge as the Best among the Rest in the niche market.

See to it that your content is such that your clients find it useful to explain their difficulties. If conflicts surface between the wants of the consumer class and your blogs, vlogs, whitepapers, case studies, infographics etc., you are heading towards the crash landing.

The content which you are putting forth should also impress the industry. Spread your philosophy through the rich content you present to the industry. Let them take note of what you are offering to the world. This will go a long way in creating an unassailable reputation in the global scenario.

Also, your content should be of high value in the eyes of Google. If it finds your content of top class quality, you benefit from going up in the ranks in search engines.

To boost your content marketing strategy, check out my blog on “12 ways to boost your business through content marketing”. Here is the link:

4. SEO CAMPAIGN

Niche marketers make the blunder of jumping in the fray blindly and using SEO aggressively with a skyscraper like expectation of winning instant profits. SEO is something very big, clickers. It will take cool minds and enormous patience to win the race. Smart niche marketers will go step by step, go slow with the techniques, employ them effectively and never expect anything. Understand, you will need to establish supremacy in the small battles of marketing before taking on the mighty competition.

Remember you are starting from scratch. No need to show any haste. “Localize your SEO” would be my pearls of wisdom for you. Begin with marketing your niche at the local level, where you will face less or no competition. This will help establish your firm as a local monopoly.

You may not accept but Google really cares about local businesses. It has equipped entrepreneurs like you with tools such as Google Analytics, Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Webmaster Tools etc. that will go a long way in competing with the big daddies in the market. Of course, you are playing in the niche market and the stakes aren’t much high. Yet it becomes important to make use of these tools to get an edge over your rivals.

 

LOCAL SEO:

Local SEO is a very effective form of digital marketing where the local businesses offer their services to the local customers. It resorts to search engines such as Google, Bing, and business directories such as Local.com, Foursquare, Superpages etc. to execute its work. Local SEO has grown significantly over the past few years thanks to the rise in usage of smart phones and tablets and rapid advances in internet connectivity. Local Searches result in 50% of the mobile visitors to visit stores within one day.  {Source: http://searchengineland.com/6-local-seo-stats-every-online-marketer-needs-know-226562 } It is slowly but surely becoming one of the most essential components of internet marketing in the modern era.

Being in a niche market means a huge scope for getting a localized SEO done. Generalized markets usually go for mass marketing with a single aim to reach out to as many people as possible. This is not the case with niche markets. The target area is small, the segment is comparatively smaller, and thus every customer matters. As a result, it becomes important to reach out to each and every local customer. You can use this to your full advantage by marketing extensively in your locality and creating interest in the minds of the local customers.

Following are some of the pointers in favor of local SEO for niche markets:

  • Less competition
  • Target specific marketing
  • High conversion levels
  • Rise in mobile internet usage

 

To learn in depth about how to get local SEO done for your niche marketing, check out my article titled “How to get Local SEO done for your small business.

5. COMPETITIOR ANALYSIS

If you want to make a mark in the niche market, you ought to study your competitor’s movements. Remember one thing – If you hit the bulls eye in niche marketing, you will earn more profits and rivals alike. So it is prudent to keep a strict watch on your rivals. Don’t take up unethical methods to keep a close track on them, for if your dirty strategies go public, it will bring disrepute to your firm and it will die an eventual death in the long run.

Find out your direct competition and use niche marketing as a way to differ yourself from them. Check out websites, magazines, and brochures to see how you can spin your product directly to your niche market. No existing competition? Don’t take this as a good sign. It may mean others have tried and failed. This makes it even more important to target your audience when niche

You can prefer to go for alternative competitive intelligence tools such as WordStream Advisor, SEMRush etc. Such tools will enable you to compare the performances in search engines, analyze their website traffic strategies and get a sneak peek into their best performing content.

6. RIVAL NETWORKING

It is no secret that more the number of competitors, greater are the costs incurred by a firm to stay ahead in the race. However, such foes can be converted into friends. It is not always necessary that all the rivals are specialized in the same subfields. For instance, if your firm A is specialized in content marketing, Firm B might have an upper hand in Local SEO services. Such strategies come handy especially in an oligopolistic niche market. If you wish to rule the roost and attain the top slot in a short span of time, collaborate with Firm B through Joint Ventures, Strategic alliances, Acquisition etc. This will not only add up to your resources but will also enhance your monetary value in the market. Your firm will become a one stop shop for majority of the consumer class and market share will spurt in leaps and bounds.

7. ASSESSMENT

This is the right moment to get an overview of your niche strategy. Make sure that your plan is near accurate and it has taken into consideration all the possibilities that could take place in the market scenario. Go through your social media, content, SEO campaign strategy and examine how your approach stands out different from the rest of the pack. You need to do things differently which brings better results than your rivals. If you are providing exactly the same content, following the same marketing strategies, offering the same quality of products and services to the consumers, you will end up as just another firm.

8. TEST MARKET

Before you enter the battleground, give a taste of your products to the segment public. You can use lead magnets such as free ebooks, webinars, newsletters, samples etc. This will generate interest in the consumers’ mind and will turn them into potential clients if the testing is done correctly. While giving out lead magnets, keep tracking your competitors’ movements closely. It may be the case that there is very less competition for you. Don’t celebrate! Take it as a caution ahead signal. Maybe many have tried the niche before and failed. Taking irrelevant risks is not prescribed at this stage. Be alert.

9. GO FOR THE KILL!

It’s time to implement your idea. For many entrepreneurs, this is the most difficult stage. But fear not: If you did your homework, entering the market will be a calculated risk, not just a gamble.

10. REVIEW AND ADJUST

Measure, adjust, and expand. Business today is a daily challenge to survive and prosper. You must continually measure your progress, adjust your strategies, and expand the scope of your business to stay ahead of your competitors. And if you are successful, you will have competitors. This is a sure sign that you are doing it right.

 11. POUNCE ON OPPORTUNITIES

Opportunities might be knocking at your door very softly. Take note of every upcoming opportunity and always try to capitalize on it. Just because you are a contender in a niche market doesn’t mean you will restrict t yourself to the limited area.  Be open to new possibilities. It will only enhance your product line and pave ways for you to try new variations or expand to other markets.

CHALLENGES

  1. MARKET SIZE

You are targeting a microscopic version of the whole market. Therefore it is quite obvious that the client base will be smaller.

  1. SCOPE FOR GROWTH

This is linked to the previous point. Since your firm will operate within the geographic limitations, the scope for growth shall be restricted to a certain extent. Further, your strategies may help you earn profits in the short run, but the same might not be feasible in the long run. 

  1. THREAT OF ACQUISITION

Multinational companies may realize the discrepancies ion their marketing strategies once you settle down in the niche market. They will surely look forward to modify their outlook and invade your territory with a more aggressive approach. Your firm might not be able to withstand the huge financial resources of such entities and thus may give away to acquisition or takeover.

CONCLUSION

The challenges might have dampened your spirits, but the road to glory is tough. Very few reach there. But if you are passionate about going for niche marketing and you are ready to persevere hard no matter what happens, nothing can stop you from succeeding.

All the best for your adventure in niche marketing!

That’s all folks. Feel free to comment and share your valuable thoughts on this subject. Thank you!