We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t please all the people all the time”. The mistake many business owners make is trying to buck this trend. Unless you’re a worldwide brand like Coke, Apple, or McDonald’s, you’re a little out of your league, and even these giants of industry have their competitors to contend with.
The answer then, especially for many small businesses, is to go the other way and seek out underserved niches of the market where they can compete through specialization. But what if you offer a diverse range of products or services? You may wonder how to find your niche market in this case.
The truth is that you don’t necessarily have to subscribe to a single niche for sales. In this day and age, you could simply advertise to a variety of niche markets depending on what you offer.
For example, you might run a shoe store. You probably carry several brands of shoes. This doesn’t have to stop you from advertising specific brands to specific audiences, or advertising locally, just for example. You can find ways to reach niche markets even if your business happens to be more universally pleasing – it’s just a way to bypass competition for more general marketing efforts.
Of course, you must first define your niche so that you can market your wares accordingly. Here are several strategies you should employ to find the perfect niche.
How to Find Your Niche Market by Auditing Competitors
One great way to define a niche is by seeing what you do differently. Look at competitor websites, marketing campaigns, products lineups, and so on.
Do you offer products or services they don’t? How is your business superior to theirs? What do you like or dislike about their brand, their image, and their tactics?
Keeping your enemies close is an ages-old notion, but one that can be applied to modern marketing. By conducting a thorough audit of your competitors’ efforts, you have the opportunity to figure out the best ways to differentiate yourself and reach niche markets that are currently being ignored.
Define Your Business
Once you’ve spent some time examining competitors, it’s time to turn the lens on your own business in order to determine which niche or niches you might serve. The products or services you offer will naturally play a role, but you should also approach the situation by thinking about your strengths and the benefits you provide.
Try to look at your business both as a business owner and from a consumer standpoint. In other words, examine your operations inside and out.
From a business perspective, you’ll always be best served by exploring avenues for which you have knowledge, talent, or passion. If there are particular products or services that excite you, there’s a good chance you can convey the sentiment to an audience.
However, you also have to try to look at your business through the eyes of an outsider considering purchasing your products. What makes you more appealing than competitors? How can you solve a problem and make life easier, more convenient, and more fulfilling for consumers?
After you audit competitors, you need to perform a comprehensive audit of your own business to determine how best to find your ideal niche market or markets.
Define Your Audience
Another great way to determine which niches to fill is to consider the audience. Who could benefit from the goods or services you offer? Let’s go back to the example of the shoe store.
Everyone wears shoes, but consumers have many different preferences. Who are you selling to? Is it the business woman who need to look conservative, yet chic? Is it a senior citizen who wants to walk a mile each day to lower cholesterol and stave off heart disease? Are you marketing to parents who want comfortable and durable shoes for their children, but also want a selection their kids will love?
You probably already have products in place. Now you have to define your audience, and you can get extremely niche when you start narrowing down the qualifiers for inclusion in a specific group.
Branch Out into Adjacent Niches
This might seem antithetical to the whole idea of a niche mentality. When trying to figure out how to find your niche market, you might assume a narrow focus is best. This is not wrong, but there’s no reason you can’t adopt more than one area of focus.
The problem with a niche is that it can pigeonhole you. Yes, you may dominate a small, untapped market, but this can also limit your sales potential. You may therefore need to identify several niches so that your business can diversify and grow.
Once you’ve identified a niche, start looking into adjacent niches to see if you can use them to your advantage. Say you’re selling orthopedic shoes. You can certainly market directly to the elderly, nurses, and people who have foot pain, for example, but you could also reach into related niches like podiatry, massage, and acupuncture for marketing opportunities that might expand your customer base.
There’s no getting around the fact that some industries seem to have an advantage when it comes to fun and entertaining marketing opportunities. Others are…well…boring. Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective. If you’re bored with what you’re selling, there’s a pretty good chance consumers will be, as well.
Chances are good that you’re extremely knowledgeable and interested in whatever you’re selling. You just need to find creative ways to add value to the customer experience with marketing efforts that approach your products or services in a fun, funny, and generally informative and entertaining way.
What are people saying about your business? What are they complaining about or clamoring for? If you’re having trouble finding niches to explore, go straight to the source. Understanding your market could be as simple as listening to what consumers want.
Figuring out how to find your niche market (or markets) isn’t rocket science. It’s just a matter of examining your own business, your competitors, and your audience to determine the best way of marketing yourself as a specialized provider of goods or services.