Remember ezimerchant's five ingredients to online success? These were:
In this ezimail issue I want to cover the topic of establishing your product in a niche or vertical market. A niche market is a focused, targetable portion of a market frequently not addressed by mainstream providers.
Why should you bother to establish a niche market? Because of the great advantage of being alone there; other small businesses may not be aware of your particular niche market, and large businesses won’t want to bother with it. The trick to capitalising on a niche market is to find or develop a market niche that has customers who are accessible, that is growing fast enough, and that is not owned by one established vendor already.
The biggest mistake an online business can make is being everything to everyone. Look at the Pet category. Why bother competing with pets.com when you could focus on and attract every parakeet owner in the world with parakeets.com (Interestingly, this has been taken as a domain but not used!)
The truth is, running two or three web sites that each target a specific niche market is the EASIEST WAY TO MAKE MONEY on the Internet. Everyone is looking for the big money maker. So, all too often, niche markets are ignored. We have merchants that operate over 30 separate online stores each. And guess what? They are still adding new ones!
So the objective then is to:
1. Find a niche market.
2. Figure out what they want.
3. Develop the product.
4. Offer it to them.
5. Automate the business.
6. Then start another and diversify.
There is a lot of money to be made this way. Focusing on a distinct, well-defined niche market is a powerful key to online success. A unique niche reduces competition and provides your online business with a clearly- defined market.
Bookstores on the internet are common – many, like Amazon.com, already dominate a major online consumer share. However, focusing on a niche means you can isolate and spotlight a single book category - a specialised discipline - and exploit the exclusivity and uniqueness of that vertical market.
What happens when you move into a niche market and specialise? First, you immediately turn a commodity into an oddity - a unique, differentiated product with a defined target demographic. Instead of just ‘books’, you now become the online authority for, say, ‘dieting books’ - with a defined audience and clear picture on where that audience gravitates. (health news groups, body and fitness related sites and portals, weight loss e-zines, content sites, newsletters, and so forth). Also, you are now a manager and supplier of rare or specialty products that may be difficult to locate offline through traditional brick-and-mortar outlets. With a specialised product, your broad-spectrum competition is no longer directly competing for your target market - and having ‘the lowest price’ is less of an issue.
Understanding what makes your customers tick because you know exactly who they are and what they want, also enables you to communicate with them in a way they will respond to.
Regardless of whatever marketing technique you employ, you’ve already leveraged your opportunities for generating meaningful traffic by narrowing in on a qualitatively distinct audience with predictable consumer needs. In a niche market, you can achieve higher search rankings by optimising URL’s, titles, tags and content with the niche keywords unique to your business. With your keyword competition greatly reduced, your customers will have no difficulty finding you at the top of search queries.
The bottom line question is this: can your business sell more by specialising, differentiating, and locking onto various niche markets? However, beware, concentrating too closely on an isolated niche can also be a liability if the market for your product is quite small or there is little online demand for such a limited item. This is what a business plan and market analysis is for.
Once you have discovered a lucrative niche market, you can build around a core product vertically - and enhance overall value.
Does Your Website Target a Particular Market? Well, does it? Is it geographic or demographic? Male or female, young or old? Business or consumer? With a little planning, you can determine exactly who visits your site and who doesn’t. you achieve this by using search terms throughout your site that are geared specifically towards your own niche markets. If you are not sure follow us through this process. Write down the specific markets your products and services are aimed at and then drill down even further. Do you service only one state, country or city? Are you mainly targeting men in their thirties, parents of young children or teenage girls?
Lets use this example; a fictional florist located in Sydney who specialises in wedding bouquets. Their target markets would probably be:
There are probably more potential markets than this but this will do for the moment. Now we have narrowed down our target market, lets get inside their heads. Lets say you were a mum helping with your daughters wedding preparation, what would YOU type in to the search engines to find the goods and services offered on your own site?
Write down these search terms as they come to mind. Using our florist example again, relevant search terms could include:
Having defined these add qualifying terms that will help define your market even more. Choose terms that are relevant to your geographic region, or specific product / service offering. Unless our fictional Sydney florist sends flowers outside of Sydney, they wouldn’t want to attract any web site visitors from outside the city right? Also, if somebody searches the web looking for flower fertilizer, our Sydney florist wouldn’t want them visiting either.
Adding qualifying terms reduces the likelihood of these visitors. For example, let’s add the following terms to our original list:
A few selective terms can narrow down the searches considerably. Your visitors will arrive at your site already highly qualified. Now you have narrowed down your search terms to reach your markets, scatter these search terms throughout your web pages. Replace keywords in your existing tags with your new target terms and use the most important ones within your URL is possible, title tag and description. If you’re not confident enough to do this yourself, give the terms to your web designer or a SEO and ask them to do it.
Once you’ve dominated one niche market with this strategy, you can start to expand your focus… or go after a completely different niche.
By Kerry Plowright Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.awp.com. au
Kerry Plowright founded ezimerchant in 1996 and was the first to offer an affordable, packaged ecommerce solution to small and medium business. Since then Kerry has helped thousands of business make hundreds of millions of dollars on the internet and is arguably Australia’s leading authority on small business and the internet. Kerry recently sold the ezimerchant business which is now the most widely used solution in Australia in addition to being sold in Japan, the USA and UK. Kerry now offers his expertise to selected businesses desiring to establish or improve their online presence. This advice is free to hosted customers. http://www.awp.com.au