Some of you have heard that the phrase “The riches are in the niches” but may not be sure what a niche market is and would like some niche market examples. Some may have a niche in mind but want to know how far down a niche market should they go. We will be covering it all in this article.
A while ago, I had the honour of meeting John Chow, one of the first people who made a lot of money on the internet through blogging. As a late bloomer, I missed out on the internet real estate rush that happened in the early to mid 2000 and I wanted to ask him for some advice on how can someone become successful on the internet in 2016 and beyond. He smiled and responded that “you can still become successful by going after and dominating a niche market.”
He didn’t say much as he was a busy man and there were others who wanted to ask him questions, I put in some thoughts about what it means to “niche down” and how deep should I niche down. After a few days of pondering it came to me that niching down is a matter of connecting to your prospects at an emotional level. It is the ability to relate with your audience because you provide quality contents that is suited for them and not just for anyone.
Imagine if a music lover were to choose between a generic clothing brand and a niche product brand that is recognized in the music world, they are more likely to go for the clothing brand that is popular in the music world because it gives them that sense of affiliation with their niche. Likewise, by niching down, you are able to tap into the emotional connection that will spark with people who are in the targeted niche.
Early websites like Buzzfeed and ViralNova are considered as broad sites as they tend to cover every topic from food, culture, news, tech, cat videos and funny things. Their success were attributed to their early mover advantage building up an audience of hundreds of thousands to millions of subscribers when the internet was not as crowded (they also had a lot of investment money from high profile investors). Little may you know, their subscribers may not have that strong of a loyalty to them as they can easily move from one news site to another depending on which one gets shared on their news feed.
A niche site on the other hand is a specialized website that is niched down enough that people could relate to it, imagine a news site for food lovers or an ecommerce store for badminton players or a meetup group for bubble tea lovers. Because they are niched down well enough, people could relate to them and say “I’m a food lover too!” and have the incentive to visit them on a regular basis.
The deeper you go, the more relateable you can be with the niched audience. For example, a dad who plays badminton would feel more at home with fellow badminton player than people who plays sports and he would feel much more connected in a dads badminton group.
While niche marketing invokes emotions, there is also the drawback in the quantity of audience. Suppose you’re selling a dog walking service for single parents who are into cosplay, the chances of finding enough customers to keep a business that niche may be pretty slim.
Here are some more examples of niches:
- Women in their 30s who love to cook
- Crazy cat ladies in their 50s who are passionate about animals
- Liberal political junkies in their 20s looking for the next protest to participate in
- 40 year old virgin men who are into anime
- Moms with pets
- Young professionals interested in sports
- Artists who have day time jobs and draw by night
Unless you have a venture capitalist backing you, appealing to “everybody” is a poor strategy in the internet era. It makes more sense to use the limited financial resources you have to appeal to one vertical and spread as you find success.
Niching down can be a tight rope act where you have to find that sweet spot, if you are going too broad, you may not have the resources and historical track record to compete with incumbents, but if you go too niche, you may not be able to find enough people to survive and scale up. The best way to know is to test it out. In my article on the $100 test, you can test out a niche to see with $100 to see if the niche works for you.