February 3, 2021 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Every business needs a clear direction. It needs to nail down the specifics of what to sell, who to sell to and how its products or services can serve the market. And what better way to have a crystal-clear direction than to target a niche market?
A niche market is basically a distinct portion of a broader market that has its own needs and preferences. These needs and preferences are usually unmet, thereby opening business opportunities.
How can you find and thrive in these opportunities? Here’s a quick guide to help you prepare your business and hit the mark for niche market success.
1. Harness the power of being specific
The key to succeeding in a niche market is nailing down a profitable niche that can cater to an underserved market. Start with the broadest identifier by asking, “In which market do I want my business to be?” You can choose from a variety of options, such as sports, health and fitness, gadgets and home appliances.
Then do your research and be extra observant: “Which segment of my chosen market has a gap that I can fill with products or services?” “What are the pain points of my target market, and how can a business help solve these?”
Businesses with a defined niche can stand out from the crowd through specialized, solution-oriented offers. Having a niche also makes it easier to create highly personalized and engaging marketing campaigns that can inspire brand loyalty and boost ROI.
2. Position your business as an authoritative and valuable figure
Your business can magnetize customers by providing valuable expertise in your products and niche. Better yet, you may capitalize on the lifestyle that can be built around your products.
Let’s say you’re selling fitness equipment. You can position your brand as a reliable figure by posting on your blog and social media accounts about proper workout posture, healthy breakfasts and quick but effective morning exercises.
Niche consumers demonstrate loyalty to brands that inspire action, and you can definitely tap into that by investing in well-researched and thoughtful content. From social media posts to blog posts, videos and webinars, any effort to share helpful information will add value to your brand and help establish it as an expert voice in its niche.
3. Study your competitors and surpass them
Even with specialized products, niche businesses aren’t exempt from competition. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to thrive in a niche market. I think that having competition isn’t 100 percent bad. In fact, having to compete for a customer’s dollar vote is a great way to keep you on your toes. Plus, having absolutely no competitors could signal that there’s no demand within your chosen niche.
I suggest including a comprehensive competitive analysis in your business plan. You can do this by profiling your current competitors and ranking them according to the level of threat they pose to your business. For instance, you can say that businesses with very similar products and target customers are your primary competitors. Meanwhile, those whose products have very few similarities to yours are secondary competitors.
Then, inspect and analyze them with a magnifying glass. Who are their specific targets? What do their customers say about their products and services? What strengths do they have, and which of their gaps and weaknesses can you capitalize on?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can strategically plan your moves to be a stronger player in the business.
4. Commit to your customers’ needs
Connecting effectively with your audience requires understanding their needs. And some of the most effective ways to dig deep into these needs are through analytics, surveys and polls. Investing in these tools will help you better understand your customers and how your brand can appeal to them and become a staple in their usual buys.
Conducting interviews or other forms of check-ins are also great ways to boost engagement and let your customers know you care about their preferences. Take the time and effort to learn from your audience. Doing so will help improve your overall business strategies and will later translate to better operations, products, and marketing.
Also keep in mind that your niche market will eventually evolve. New trends will inevitably emerge in your industry, so you have to keep track of your performance and ask for customer feedback regularly. This way your business can continuously adapt to shifting trends and any new market expectations that may come up.
5. Build authentic connections through effective marketing
Marketing is communicating. And to communicate effectively, you’ll first need to listen to what your audience has to say.
Consumers nowadays respond to brand messages that reflect or answer their personal needs, desires and principles. They don’t want to be bombarded with ads of products upon products; they want to be heard, and they want value not just for their money but also for their attention. Only when you use messages that reflect your audience’s desires or pain points can you build authentic and meaningful connections with them.
So how can you create relatable messages and market effectively? For my businesses, performing social listening and creating well-researched buyer personas are two things that have worked consistently. Buyer personas allow you to know exactly the kind of people you need to attract and connect with. And as a niche business owner, you have to learn and speak these people’s language, respond to their problems and pack a punch of value in all their touch points with your business — with marketing as your main vehicle.
6. Be open to growth and expansion
Choosing a niche market doesn’t mean that your sales potential will be restricted to your original target market. Consumers’ preferences will change over time, and even niche businesses can ride the bigger waves.
Take Lululemon and Patagonia, for example. These brands intended to cater to very specific niche markets — yoga-savvy women and outdoor enthusiasts, respectively. But they slowly expanded their reach over time and now appeal to a wider segment of their target market.
Once you’ve built a brand that sparks recognition and loyalty from your niche market (thus dominating your niche), your business will gain higher chances of appealing to potential customers outside of its initial target.
Sometimes this happens organically. People will naturally be drawn to your brand if you’ve done a notable job serving your niche, and they’ll want to get a whiff of your brand of cool.
The bottom line is to hone in on your niche market, hook them to your brand using powerful marketing, and serve them well with valuable products, services and content. If you do these things well, you can attract more customers to join your tribe, be your brand’s advocates and help spread the word about you within and even outside your initial niche.
Related: How to Market in a Niche Industry