No matter how good you are at your job, you cannot sell anything to everyone. In today’s world, just offering quality services or products isn’t enough to achieve success in business. No. If you want to survive and position yourself on top, you need to invest your efforts in targeting your customers as much as in developing your products.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of businesses fail because they didn’t really focus on who their targeted audience is. They tried pushing their products on everyone, and naturally, their results were devastating.
We’re all in this game to win big, get rich and form a company whose name will be well-known even in the darkest parts of the world, but we cannot do that if we don’t really invest some brain power into actually thinking to whom we should showcase our dazzling plumage.
The key to winning big in today’s business world lies in niching down your ideas. You’ll have a greater chance of success if you design a product or service that solves problems for a specific group of people, instead of a larger crowd. The more niched down you can get, the better your results will be.
To some of you who are just starting a new business, narrowing your target market might seem like a foolish move, because, when you look at it bluntly, you’re basically excluding a big part of your potential customer base, but if you can clearly define a market and its needs upfront, you can tailor your product or service offerings narrowly to meet that demand and quickly gain an upperhand over your competitors.
Start by establishing what you like, what you’re good at, and then research the hell out of it to see if there’s a market for it. In this phase, it’s of crucial importance that you find something that applies to all these things. For example, I’m good at finance, I have a masters degree in finance and banking, I could make money from selling financial advice to people, but I don’t like doing it. I would never do such a thing. Why? – Because I don’t find it interesting anymore, and I think that my customers would immediately see that. It’s all about finding that sweet spot that helps you generate passion for what you do. Believe it or not, but passion is something that stimulates people. The more energetic and pumped you are about your work, the more people will see you as someone who’s worth remembering.
Before investing any money into developing your new business idea, you must first and foremost validate it. You can do this by talking to your friends, family and people whom you think could be your potential customers.
You may find many people against your business idea at this stage and they will present you with some queries about the possibilities of failure, but if you can provide answers to at least a couple of them – then you’re onto something good. Even though hearing negative opinions about your idea might feel awful at this specific moment, it’s of high importance that you don’t get discouraged. Hearing bad things about your future business venture is good at this stage, because it will feed you with great insights on how to re-work your idea and fix all your weaknesses so when you finally launch your future products and services, you’ll already have answers to some of more serious problem that you could’ve come your way.
As Kim T. Gordon, owner of National Marketing Federation and author of a “Maximum Marketing, Maximum Dollars” book, wrote back in 2002 for Entrepreneur, there are three rules for niche marketing:
1. Meet your future customers unique needs,
2. Say the right thing,
3. Always test-market.
I especially agree with the third rule. In order to succeed in this cutthroat business world, you must focus on all the data that is in front of you. Research and statistics plays an important part here. By carefully looking at all the right numbers, you can see if there’s a market out there for your idea, and if so, who are your potential customers, where do they hang out online, are they big spenders, or are they cheap, how do they prefer to do business, etc.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to find a profitable niche market, I suggest you read the following post on Lorna Li’s blog.
Although you may have figured out what to sell and to whom to sell it, if you don’t figure out how to do it – you’re back at square one.
Laura Lippay, SEO specialist, also known as the former Technical Marketing Director for Yahoo Media, wrote a very interesting and useful piece about this subject for MOZ. In her article, Laura explained the importance of getting to know your targeted audiences up close and personal and listed a couple of great and very effective methods on how to anticipate your users’ intent and give them what they need, without violently forcing your message down their throats.
As she cleverly stated here: “You provide something specific: That might be a product, a service, a trustworthy source of information, a community space… And you know exactly what your audiences may be searching for to find your wares. But do you know what they really want out of you? Do you know how they really feel? Do you know what they want more of or less of in your industry? Do you know what they like or don’t like on your site or your competitor’s sites? Do you know what they think about your new product launch? If you knew this information, how could you use it to improve your products or services?” – In order to succeed, you must answers all of these question before you even start investing in your business.
By locating a common problem that a certain group of people is facing on daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis. Think about who’s your targeted audience, what they do, what bothers them, what friction can you eliminate, what features they wish some of their current “solutions” had and how much they would be willing to pay for such a thing.
Let’s, for the sake of this blog post, say that you have done your research and, I’m just spitballing here, this is all just hypothetical, 46% of people who drive cars, don’t really know how to park in tight places. They’re all everyday drivers, they spend a lot of time behind the wheel, but they’re still afraid that they’ll hit someone who has already parked next to their tight parking spot, so, even if they came across a perfectly normal space, they still decide to leave nothing to chance and continue to look for another place where they can leave their vehicle, without risking to bump into anyone who’s already parked theirs. Maybe this could be your million dollar idea? Developing some sort of sensor that helps drivers wheel in their cars into tight parking places? Yes, I know that something similar already exists, but hey, it’s just an example to help you see what it really means to focus on micro niches.
People tend to focus on ideas that are too broad and that’s why they have trouble locating their customers. They get greedy, then paranoid, and then they lose their cool and start digging for gold in all the wrong places. In this highly competitive business world where almost everything has been already invented and reinvented millions of times again, you need to profile your potential user, consumer, or whatever you want to call them, and get to know their world. Only then will you be able to create something that’s truly useful for them.
As John Scully once said: “No great marketing decisions have ever been made on quantitative data.” Guided by these words, you need to narrow it down. Be creative, research the problem, validate your thoughts with simple ways of surveys or phone calls. Put up a survey chart that customers can fill in.
I have worked with startups and many times they tend to fail because the people in charge are too lazy to do the research or pick up the phone and do the dirty work. Don’t fall victim to silly mistakes, think about your business on a more detailed and customer-oriented level, and I promise you, you’ll see your efforts pay-off in no time.
Thank you for reading this blog post. I hope it helped you fully understand how this niche market works, and how to come up with smarter business ideas that actually solve problems for a specific group of people.
That’s it for now,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.
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