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2 years ago
HOW TO FIND AND MASTER A NICHE MARKET
One common path to success for many small businesses is establishing themselves in a niche market. Because no matter how hard they try, no large retailer can be all things to all people, there are always going to be segments of the population whose needs for particular products and/or services are going unmet – leaving room for the small business to succeed by meeting those needs.
So how can your small business capitalize on these unmet needs and find and dominate your own niche market? Concentrate on these four basic concepts for niche marketing success:
1. A unique product or service.
For starters, if you’re going to master a niche market, you need to have a unique product or service. Ideally, you want to be the only one selling what you’re selling.
The trick to coming up with such a product or service is to “look on the fringes” for unmet needs. For example, one East Coast entrepreneur’s business consists of creating hand-made medieval outfits. Large retailers and even shops specializing in costumes don’t supply these types of garments.
Don’t forget that processes can be products as well. They’re ubiquitous now, but someone once looked at an inkjet printer cartridge and came up with the idea and the process for refilling them. Need help getting started with this sort of idea spotting? 7 Sources of Business Ideas will spark your thinking.
2. A marketable product or service.
You can create all kinds of wonderful and wonky products and/or services but if no one wants what you’ve produced, what’s the point? Maybe there’s no one selling fried insects from a vending cart on your street, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. The niche market of people who enjoy eating fried insects in this country is so small they wouldn’t even fill a phone booth.
There has to be enough of a demand for your product or service for your business to make a profit. How do you find out? By trial and error or by conducting extensive market research.
I, of course, recommend the latter. If you want to know if there’s a market for dog coats, bamboo flooring or counseling for the Blackberry addicted, the best way to find out is to get out there and ask. Making or buying a lot of something and throwing up a Web site to see if there’s any interest in what you’re doing is for people who don’t want to make money.
3. Choose a niche market that’s available.
Remember, niche markets tend to be smaller so there’s only room for so many players. When it comes to niche marketing, if you try to jump on a bandwagon, you’re only going to fall off the back. For instance, I mentioned the niche market for gay marriages in Best Business Opportunities 2005.
Before you started such a business yourself, you would certainly need to carefully research the competition and the size of the market to see if a new business in this niche would be viable. It might well be better to find a different niche in the marriage or gay markets and make that niche your own.
4. Market, market, market.
Marketing is perhaps more important for niche market businesses than for any other kind, because the niche market business is by definition, unknown and succeeds or fails on making the connection with exactly the right kind of customer/client. If I open a Starbucks, for example, people know right away what that business is about and what kinds of products to expect. And because Starbuck’s market is “anybody who likes coffee”, they really don’t have to worry much about advertising at this point in the game.
But if I open a business providing naturopathic treatments for pets, selling tub/shower conversions for the elderly or providing virtual assistant services to professional speakers, to give just three examples, people won’t know what to expect or even that my niche business exists at all unless I make the effort to reach and educate them. So market, market, market – and once you have a customer or client, make contact on a regular basis.
A unique product or service that will fulfill the unmet needs of a specific group of people – that’s niche marketing in a nutshell. If you apply all of the four concepts above, your small business will enjoy the powerful competitive advantage that mastering a niche market provides.
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