Far too many new business startups struggle for the simple fact that they’re not sure about the customer they serve. That means they can’t direct their marketing at particular people through specific media. This is where defining a niche market for your business comes into play.
By knowing the type of customer most likely to buy from you, you can pick the marketing channels they tend to interact with.
You can also enhance your products or services to meet that group’s particular needs, edging out the competition. Additionally, if you have a well-defined niche, anyone who knows about your business will know the exact person to send your way.
Let’s look at what it takes to find the niche market for your ideal business.
Defining your niche
One of the first questions to ask yourself is, what do you already enjoy doing? Which customers or projects have been the most fun? Which types of projects would you work on even if you weren’t getting paid?
You start here because choosing a niche that you hate serving will mean you are unlikely to stand out from the crowd with your services and products. Despite your best efforts, you’ll always sound a bit forced and stilted when you’re talking about what you offer.
You just won’t care enough to put the effort it takes to stand out.
A second question to ask yourself is, what are people already asking for your advice about? If people are approaching you about a certain topic, then you’ve already established a track record of authority in this space.
Identifying a space where you are already recognized as an authority makes the path to establishing a niche business so much shorter.
Tying closely into what people are already asking you about is, what do you already know? This can be a useful question if you’re looking to leave your main business and move to some other specialty.
Is there something you know backward and forwards and could talk about all day? You’re likely an expert on that topic.
One of the final questions to ask yourself is, which types of services and products are your most profitable ones? While you shouldn’t only focus on profit, you do need to make money. Even if you love something, it’s not a good niche market if it’s not a profitable one.
I went through this for my web development business and found that my most profitable projects were not cutting-edge projects with lots of custom code. These projects looked great to my peers. They made me feel important because I was getting peer recognition.
Unfortunately, they also involved a lot of work that few others had done. I was always on my own figuring things out. I could spend a day working on something and still not even have the right question to ask after all that effort.
My most profitable work, that lined up with the clients I enjoyed the most, was doing fairly straightforward site setup work.
It wasn’t as exciting to my peers, but it was quick and made a huge impact for my customers because it launched their businesses for them.
Next step: Niche market research
Once you have an idea or two for your niche, you need to start doing some research on the prospective customers in those markets (you can find ideas on how to do that here). You need to understand how they talk about their problems before you’re ready to dive into reaching out to them on social media or via email.
The keyword angle
A good way to start is to decide on a few keywords for your niche and then start searching them online (learn how to find your keywords here). These are, after all, the words your future customers will type into Google when searching for your products or services.
Make note of the products that people talk about on blogs related to those keywords. As you’re watching and listening, keep these questions in mind:
- What language do people use to talk about the problems they’re having?
- What brands and products keep getting mentioned?
- Do you see any names recurring in the comments and as authors of content?
You can do the same type of research on Quora, in forums, on podcasts and on YouTube. For each medium, make sure that you make note of the products, brands and people that are mentioned. Then go see what those products and brands are offering. On forums, make sure to do an additional search for the words “help” or “problem” to see the exact problems that people are having.
Put all of that information into a big spreadsheet, and you can make a pretty good guess at the slice of this market that isn’t currently being served adequately. You’ll know the brands that are in the space, and the products that are getting recommended. You’ll also have a good start on what type of marketing you’ll need to be doing.
Now you’re ready to start digging in to the problems in your niche market and offering products and services to solve those problems.
By doing a bit of research, you can understand exactly what your target buyer has problems with. By understanding them, you can craft products and services that solve these problems.
You can also use the same language they’re using to speak about your offerings. That way, when your ideal customer finds you, they feel like they’re talking to someone who is on the same page as they are.
The secret to success — simple
Too many new businesses are founded on what the business owner can (or wants to) do. But without research, you could miss the mark. Defining a niche market for your business will save you money and help you build more authority in your industry because you know exactly who your customer is — right from the start.