When most people speak of finding their niche, they are talking about finding a comfortable or specialized position for themselves in life, but it’s just as important that businesses find their own niche. For a business, a niche is that specialized corner of the market that they find profitable. This is especially important for businesses in the internet age, whether they are an e-commerce site or not. There are so many businesses competing with one another online, businesses need to find how they will distinguish themselves from from the competition. This post will explain how to find a niche for a business and how that knowledge can help guide marketing decisions.
The simple truth is that no business can be all things to all people; it’s impossible to be the best at everything. In order to succeed in the marketplace, a business has to decide what it is they want to be known for in the industry. It’s better to have a reputation as being a company that provides the best service in a particular area than to be known as the company that is mediocre in everything. A business has to make sure that the service they are offering is something that people want that isn’t being provided by someone else. In the immortal words of Ruth Stafford Peale, “Find a need and fill it.”
Finding a niche for business takes research. Study the local market to find out in which areas are competitors already well established, what needs are currently unmet by competitors, and where the greatest potential opportunities for growth are. By answering these kinds of questions, businesses can offer specialized goods that are attractive to the people most likely to become buyers. The keyword research that many companies do for their SEO strategy can also provide useful information. Knowing what people are searching for is a good place to start looking for unmet needs.
Finding a niche is important for choosing target audiences and creating marketing materials. Restaurants are good example of the value of knowing one’s niche. While all restaurants are in the business of selling food, each restaurant has to decide for themselves what style of food they will serve, what will the price range be, what style of dining will they have, and what kind of decor is appropriate for their business. By the time these questions are answered, the restaurant has discovered their niche. All that’s left to do is find out how to relate to their audience and produce marketing materials accordingly. There is a reason why commercials for fast food restaurants feature working class people driving sensibly priced cars instead of people in tuxedos driving BMWs.
Knowing a business’ niche can help organization’s run more effective advertising and marketing campaigns. For example, instead of promoting posts on Facebook to everyone, an organization can specifically target the age, gender, or other demographics that coincide with the organization’s niche. If a company has already decided that they want to be the company of choice for a younger generation, it’s a waste of advertising budgets to promote the post to a group that includes people over 65 (when such people can be filtered out of the campaign’s cost).
Once a business determines a niche and marketing strategy, they should consider putting the information into a business plan. Writing things out sometimes makes it easier to see gaps in logic and the business plan can be shown to trusted friends or partners to get their opinion. As an added bonus, a business plan with a clearly defined niche will garner more investments and loans than a plan where a niche analysis is lacking.
It’s important to remember that finding a niche isn’t about limiting a business’ potential, but rather, it’s about starting with reachable goals in an area where success is possible. To illustrate, the founders of Google didn’t start as the search engine giant they are today. They made their niche by providing highly accurate searches and top rated advertising services. It was by performing extremely well in these niches that the company was able to expand into all the things it’s grown into today.
Finding a niche is the cornerstone for success in a saturated marketplace. Baseball Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler’s advice for beating opposing outfielders is applicable to small business owners a hundred year later: “Keep your eye clear, and hit ‘em where they ain’t”. Keep an eye on the competition, know where they aren’t meeting the needs of consumers, and make sure that’s where your business’ services are. Do this and a business can ensure a smoother startup and better long-term prospects.