When it comes to marketing your business, understanding your audience is crucial. After all, your audience, or target market, are the people that buy your products, give you their money and generate your profits! Who are the people that are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer?

As you consider different business ideas, or ways to expand your existing small business, it is easy to get caught up in the idea of maximising everything. Growth means getting bigger and, for a lot of us, that simply means reaching as many customers as possible. In practice, though, the most successful growth doesn’t come from merely increasing your reach – the best results come from directly targeting a small niche market.

How do you know if a niche market is right for you? What should you consider when choosing a niche market for your business? And what are the benefits of a narrow approach to marketing when it comes to blogs, social media and search engine optimisation?

What Is Your Niche?

As simple as this question sounds. With other partners, I set up an Online Prescription and Consultation website and we weren’t sure how feasible it was to cover both men and women’s healthcare conditions within one website, or whether we should aim for condition niche websites. This is still a question that we debate as we change and develop our strategy to reach out to different communities and their needs.

For any business-to-business organisation, aiming your marketing at one type of client or industry is a classic niche approach. But there are many alternatives. Another very common niche is the one found in your local area. Targeting all of your advertising and effort within a small geographic area is a sure-fire way to get your message through in a direct fashion. After all, people naturally trust businesses that are located nearby, and choose them over more distant competitors.

Ultimately, a niche can be found just about anywhere. You could select a small group of people based on age, income, location, interests and so on. But for a niche that really works, look carefully at your business.

As much as we would all like to please everybody all the time, your products or services undoubtedly appeal to some people more than others. You may be able to build up a picture of these people through your preliminary sales, potential leads, or through surveys and questionnaires. Online survey site Wufoo.com offers a great business demographic survey to help you identify your niche.

Once you have identified them, look for a common trend – this is the niche that you should be targeting.

Finding A Gap In The Market

If you are just getting started with your business, it is a great idea to build your organisation around a niche, rather than searching for the niche after you are up and running. Classically, this means finding a ‘gap in the market’.

Unfortunately, with every year that passes, the original business ideas get used up. It’s almost impossible to find an entirely innovative business that has a large customer base just waiting to be tapped. If you find one, seize the opportunity!

For most of us, though, there will not be a sudden flash of inspiration. Instead, use intelligent niche marketing to aim your products where they are required. As long as you reach your customers more effectively than your competitors do, you can dominate a niche that is already being served.

A great example of this is Lehman’s. Founded in 1955, the company offered tools and home ware aimed at a niche market that was already being served – the local Amish community, who do not use electricity. Although the Amish community could find products that did not require electricity, there was nobody that made them feel as if the products were aimed specifically at them.

This is the most important thing to learn about niche marketing. It is not necessary to have a niche all of your own, but, by focusing your attention on a specific group, you can build their respect, appreciation and loyalty.

Today, Lehman’s is an international organisation, offering products to not only the Amish but also developing countries, environmentalists and people with unreliable electricity supplies. Lehman’s built a reputation by targeting a niche, and subsequently expanded to cover a wider group of customers.

You can do the same by starting with a focused approach.

Niche Marketing Works Online

Increasingly, businesses market themselves online. After all, this is a fantastic way to reach customers from every corner of the globe. But this is missing the point of effective marketing.

While it would be nice to get sales from the mass market, the sheer volume of online competition makes this an uphill struggle. However, the Internet is also the ideal place for effective niche marketing.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is particularly powerful when you focus on a niche. SEO involves optimising your web site to target specific keywords that customers enter into search engines. If you choose a keyword that is being targeted by millions of other pages, getting to the top of the results is hard. If you focus on a particularly relevant keyword that is being searched for but not targeted by competitors, you can increase your website traffic and, in turn, you income.

Targeting a niche means less competition for your keywords. Less competition means more online impact.

Niche Social Media Marketing

Another important online niche marketing activity is social media. Although celebrity Twitter users give the impression that social media is about promotion, remember that these platforms are designed to allow you to connect with a small group of people. Social media is designed to operate in niche groups.

In a business sense, it is rarely productive to use social media marketing to announce your news or post closed, insular updates. Instead, you should concentrate your attention on entering one of these niche groups successfully.

Let’s imagine that you offer an XXXL clothing range targeted at the overweight niche. Social media is the perfect place to connect with potential customers, by entering conversations about dieting, weight loss, the difficulty of getting suitable sizes, and so on.

As long as there is a niche group of people that are communicating through social media, your brand can enter this arena and become part of the conversation. That is the potential of social media.

And, of course, if a niche does not yet exist, your business can play a vital role in bringing like-minded people together. Once your social media presence is established, you can provide the platform through which your niche can communicate. In return, your brand remains consistently present, the first port of call for the products that your niche needs most.

How To Focus On A Niche While Maximising Customers

The theory of niche marketing is not new but has a particular relevance to the field of online marketing. Today, there are more opportunities to connect with your niche audience than ever before.

But a niche still remains intimidating. Properly targeted marketing makes a certain group of people feel welcomed and included but, in turn, alienates others who may have an interest in your product. Why close yourself off to possible customers?

The reality is that niche marketing is a powerful tool, but is not exclusive. It is possible to focus your attention on multiple niches at once, providing that your marketing budget allows for the commitment involved. And, of course, your niche is just the beginning. As your business and products evolve, so will your natural base of customers.

Start today with a niche that gives you a foothold in your industry. It is only once this niche is in place that you can continue to climb further up the business ladder.

Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother of three, PR Consultant and Entrepreneur
Like many women on most days I seem to have to juggle all my roles. On other days just three or four. This is why I founded Homeforbusiness. I recognise what it takes to be a working Mum and how to set up an online business from home with all ‘pulls’ of everyday family life and work.

I have always been entrepreneurial and set up by first corporate communications company, EMA Productions, in my 30s working with big corporate clients such as Texaco, Rank and Boots. Whilst it was challenging and hard work, it was quickly successful. I could focus solely on winning contracts and meeting the clients needs without family distractions and with the support of a fantastic team and office.