Business | Digital Marketing
Whether you’re launching a completely new business venture or looking for more effective ways to market an existing product or service, any experienced marketer will tell you to start with the same question: Who does my business serve?
Businesses that ignore this question are destined to fail—or at least destined to throw away money on ineffective advertising campaigns. And you can’t just say, “We’ll serve everyone!” If you try to be all things to all people, your marketing messages will be generic and vague, and you won’t actually engage anyone.
On the other hand, if you focus on targeting and serving a specific group of people extremely well, you can become an industry leader for that group and produce highly profitable products, services, and advertising campaigns. Narrowing your focus will ultimately maximize your impact, and it starts with identifying your niche market.
Read on to learn what a niche market is, how to find your niche market, and how to make niche marketing work for you.
What Is a Niche Market?
A niche market is a defined subset of all your potential customers, ideally the specific group of people most likely to buy from you. Identifying your niche market means defining their demographics, shared values and interests, the common problem you help them solve, their preferred price point, and more.
Whether you’re a small business looking to compete against bigger brands, a new business looking to claim your space in a crowded market, or an established business looking to refine your unique value proposition and reach more qualified leads, niche marketing can help.
To see how niche marketing with a narrower focus can drive sales, let’s imagine for a moment that you’re a photographer. At first, you simply advertise photography services for anyone and everyone. You cast a wide net, but because you also have to compete against all other photographers in your area, you find you have a hard time attracting clients.
You decide to narrow your focus and serve couples as a wedding photographer. You cut down on the competition a bit, and you see a small uptick in leads, but there’s a lot of wedding photographers in your area and you’re still struggling to stand out.
After taking a closer look at your customers and competitors, you realize that a nearby national park attracts many couples for small elopement ceremonies, and no other photographers are explicitly serving this group. You define your niche market as couples who travel to your area to elope, then update your website, social media profiles, and advertising campaigns to speak to those couples’ unique needs and goals.
Before long, you see a significant increase in highly qualified leads. You even become known as the go-to wedding photographer for eloping couples and no longer compete against the hundreds of other photographers in your area. Your reputation grows, your leads are steady, and your sales increase—all because you found your niche market!
How to Find a Niche Market
Finding your niche market may occur organically over time, but that doesn’t mean it should be based on guesswork or trial and error. In fact, you can identify and clarify your niche market at any point in your business’s development by asking yourself a few strategic questions.
- What is unique about my business?
Do you offer a unique product or service? Do you have personal experience that helps you connect with a particular subset of your audience? Identifying what sets you apart from your competitors is a great place to start in determining the right niche market for you.
- What problems can/do we solve for our customers?
Take a close look at your products/services. What problems do they solve? Who is most likely to have this problem? Once you identify the group most likely to buy from you, consider what else this group may have in common. (Developing buyer personas is a great way to survey your customer base and organize what you know about them. Click here for an article that walks you through that process.)
- What are my competitors not doing that we do well? Or what are they doing that we could do better?
Once you’ve examined your own business, turn your attention to your competitors. What gaps have they left that you’re well positioned to fill? You may not find a completely unreached niche market, and that’s okay. Instead, look for niche markets that your competitors aren’t serving well (through clear messaging, valuable content, and paid ads), and consider how you could reach that market better.
- Do we need to narrow our focus? Are we trying to be too many things to too many people?
If you already have a website and advertising campaigns, take an honest look at who you’re trying to reach. Can you narrow that group any further? People buy from companies they trust, and people trust companies that speak directly to their needs and goals… but companies that try to engage everyone never speak directly to anyone.
- Is there an actual demand for what we do?
Finding a niche market with absolutely no competition doesn’t automatically mean you’ve landed on a profitable idea. After all, serving a niche market only works if there’s an actual demand for your product or service among that market. You can’t survive as a pet boarding business that specializes in parrots if there’s only a dozen parrot owners in your area! As you look for a niche market with little competition, make sure you don’t go so narrow that you eliminate the demand needed to sustain your business.
How to Succeed in Niche Marketing
Once you identify the niche market you want to serve, it’s time to develop a marketing campaign to reach and convert that market. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to succeed in niche marketing:
- Develop a unique value proposition. A unique value proposition communicates your value to your niche market in just a few memorable words. Clarity, repetition, and consistency are key in using your unique value proposition to engage your niche market and drive sales. (Click here for a step by step guide to defining and communicating your unique value proposition.)
- Create helpful content. The goal in niche marketing is to establish yourself as an industry thought leader among your target audience. Create content your niche market will find useful, then optimize that content for keywords to ensure your content is found by that audience.
- Test ideas before you commit. If you’re launching a new product or service or developing a new advertising campaign for your niche market, start with a test run to see how it performs before investing a lot of money into your niche market. Use a landing page and some Google ads to see how your target audience responds to your unique value proposition, then refine your message and idea as you learn what resonates with your niche market.
- Reassess your niche marketing periodically. Over time, you can and should continually reevaluate your niche market and marketing campaigns to ensure your messaging is relevant and fresh. Businesses and customers both evolve, and this is the only way to ensure you don’t get out of touch or left behind.
One more thing worth noting: Don’t forget to make sure you’re actually offering a high-quality product or service. If you’re going to narrow your focus, you really need to be the best option available for your niche market!
Niche marketing starts with understanding that you can’t please everyone. However, when you narrow your focus to the audience you best serve, you can maximize your impact and your profits.
Because identifying and targeting the right niche market is critical, it should never be based on guesswork or gut instincts. Instead, start by surveying customers in your target market to learn their goals, motivations, and pain points. Then, you can create better products/services to serve them well and develop marketing messages with a unique value proposition that resonates. Surveying your target audience doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, we’ll give you a free resource to get you started.
This customer survey template can be used by individuals or businesses in any industry or stage of growth to help identify potential niche markets. Download it today, then survey your customers via email, website forms, or personal interviews to learn more about what they want and need and how you can serve them as an industry leader in your niche market. Click below to access your free customer survey template now.