|The Small Business Library|
December 2, 2000
Finding Your Niche On the Web
The answer lies not in trying to be everything to everyone, but in carving for yourself a neatly-defined niche in this huge marketplace.
As a small player, it is a waste of your precious time and energy to attempt to compete with the Big Names on the Web. Don't bother setting up a site selling books and going head-to-head with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you really want to sell books, choose a specific subject area that nobody else has covered - that way you stand a chance of pulling in some traffic when surfers search on your subject.
The more specialized your product or service, the more important it is to target your message carefully and accurately to potential customers.
Whatever you sell, it will appeal most to that percentage of the web population who stand to gain clear and direct benefits from their purchase. They are your target market and time invested in finding out everything you can about these people is well spent.
So think about what you are selling. What benefits are you really offering? So your Stop Snoring Spray works on 90% of people tested - great! But who benefits from using your spray? Maybe the snorer - but more likely whoever is sleeping with them! Your customers may not be the snorers themselves, but their partners. Here is your niche - find ways of reaching people whose partners keep them awake at night with their snoring.
The same applies to information products. Let's say you have written an ebook about the postage stamps of Brazil. Who are your customers? Stamp collectors, obviously - and more specifically, those who specialize in Brazilian - or at least, South American - stamps. They may be few in number, but they will be so grateful that you have taken the trouble to provide them with what they need that you can probably charge a premium for your ebook to make up for the relatively small number of sales.
A friend of mine wrote an ebook for men who want to be more successful in attracting women. He drew on his extensive experience and knowledge and produced a great book. At first glance, you might think that this is a mass market product - surely most men will want a book like that? But look more carefully and you will see that this is, in fact, a product for a niche market. It could appeal to men of all ages, but my guess is that most of the interest is likely to come from men between the ages of 20 and 40, they will mostly be unmarried and un-partnered, they will be 'straight', they can read English and are motivated to find a female partner (or several).
So before you launch your next web marketing project, spend some time thinking about which niche market you want to appeal to - and then do some research. Draw a mental picture of your target customer and look at your site from their point of view.
Ask yourself - what problem does my product solve for them? In the case of my friend's book, the problem may be lack of self-confidence. In the case of the Stop Snoring Spray, it may be sleepless nights. If you can define the problem and offer a readily-available and affordable solution, you have found yourself a nice niche market!
The author Phil Chandler writes about small business topics and his web site is http://hyperbooks.hypermart.net