So, we know that having a clear niche or target market is essential, but, how do you know if you’ve got a good niche?
It’s one of the biggest fears people have – “what if I pick the wrong niche?”
And the fear is justifiable. After all, if you pick the wrong niche and spend a lot of time, money and energy in trying to reach it . . . and it doesn’t work out. Well, you’d probably rather not go through that.
The truth is, you could pick a perfect niche and still fail. A strong niche isn’t a guarantee of success, it just makes it a lot more likely is all.
So, what constitutes a good niche?
Luckily for you, it’s extremely easy to tell whether your niche is a good choice or not. There’s eight specific pieces of criteria you can use to judge any niche by.
And let me make a few predictions.
First: I predict these will all make a ton of sense to you.
Second: I predict you will agree with and really like these criteria.
Third: I predict that these criteria will give you some ‘aha’ moments of why past marketing efforts of yours have failed.
THE EIGHT QUALITIES OF YOUR PERFECT NICHE
1. they are experiencing a common set of easily identifiable needs you can fulfill or problems that you can help them with (and they are, at least, open to the notion that these problems can be solved and ideally they are passionately committed to solving it now – it’s a ‘must’ for them, not a ‘should’ that they’ll get to someday).
If they don’t have a common problem – it’s not a target market. And if you can’t help them with the problem – there’s simply no basis for any conversation. The problem or need is the basis of all your marketing. Most people make the mistake of thinking that people are buying their products or services – but that’s not true.
People couldn’t care less about your products or services (owch. the truth smarts) they just want a solution to their problems, they want relief from pain, they want to meet a need of theirs. Your products and services are merely a means to an ends.
So many entrepreneurs I know can talk for hours about the features and benefits of their products but if I say, “why do people need this? What are they buying it for?” they totally blank. They don’t know how to answer it. The ‘problem’ is not only the basis of your marketing message – it’s the white hot center of your niche.
2. common lifestyle: desires, passions, values, interests, hobbies, a common bond that you can cater to.
Some problems are so specific that only a narrow niche of people will suffer from them (e.g. a particular problem with a highly specialized computer application).
But some problems (e.g. back pain) are really generic. So, some problems have a sort of implied niche to them. Others don’t. If the problems that you solve are widely held – then you should likely consider selecting a particular community to work with and develop packages for.
A couple examples: a massage therapist who works with the BDSM community in Seattle. Sure, lots of people need massage – but when she caters her business to this community – she can cater to their particular needs, values and vibe. I saw an ad once that just said, “Rad Dyke Plumber” – a lesbian plumber. Now, it’s not like she’s dealing with different piping issues in any technical sense – but she is dealing with a different subculture with its own sense of esthetic.
If the problem is widely held – pick a particular community to serve. For example, if you’re tennis player and a massage therapist, you might consider becoming a massage therapist that caters to tennis players. A good niche shares a certain lifestyle.
Maybe they’re clubbers, maybe they’re weekend warriors who love to go camping each weekend, Maybe they’re all theatre buffs. Maybe they love to read comic books and play Dungeons and Dragons. They’re dog owners. They’re parents. They’re grandparents.
3. established, high quality hubs, communication networks etc.
Basically, this means that you can find them and reach them easily.
What is a hub? Think of it like the hub of a wheel. It’s the only point on the wheel where all of the spokes come together and meet. A hub is any place where you can find your niche. It might be an association they belong to, an event they tend to go to.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear people get excited about a niche they have little hope of reaching. Before you commit a dime to any niche ask yourself: Do they tend to hang out in the same places? Do they read the same magazines? Do they spend money in the same places? Are they a part of the same groups?
There are seven main categories of hubs (e.g. events, businesses, groups, publications, individuals, support systems, and websearch related). The more hubs that your niche has, the easier they will be to reach. The fewer hubs there are, the harder it will be.
Why do you want to find hubs?
Why do they matter so much?
Well, consider this – you can spend all of your time trying to find your clients individually, or you can just go to where they already are. You can spend all of your days trying to win the trust of the individuals in your niche one at a time . . . or you can secure the endorsement of someone they already trust and win over all of their trust at once.
The latter is far easier in the long term. When I go to a new town I could spend hundreds of dollars postering the city about my workshops, or I could just call up the local progressive, local business network and get their endorsement. Much easier.
4. there’s enough of them to meet your needs.
While most people don’t niche narrowly enough, you can make your niche too narrow. If there’s only three people in town who fit your description you may need to broaden your reach. You need to be really honest with yourself here. And challenge yourself: if you think there’s enough people – what are you basing that on? Hope? Or have you actually done some research?
5. they’re fun to work with and in alignment with your nature (these are likely the kinds of clients you most easily and naturally attract and the ones to whom you feel the most attracted – it’s a niche or community that you want to see thrive).
Who would really excite you to work with? Is there a particular niche or community of folks that you just naturally seem to love working?
I’ll tell you something I’ve noticed: there is a deep connection between your ideal niche and your nature as a person. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in my workshops say, “well, basically, my niche is people just like me!” And that’s not a crazy response. It makes sense.
6. they are underserved: the niche is often based on what your competitors aren’t doing.
If they have a need but are being ignored by your competition, that can be a goldmine. If they’re already being courted for their business by dozens of other businesses then that niche is less than ideal **unless** you are able to offer something so unique and so clearly more valuable that it will blow the competition out of the water.
If you’re able to do that then you’re in a good place.
If they are overserved – if they are inundated with options then you need to do one of three things: be the only option that focuses just on that niche exclusively (e.g. the only massage therapist in town who works only with mothers).
If there’s already a lot of other businesses focusing exclusively on that niche then you might consider picking a sub-niche – focusing on one particular sub-group of people in that niche (e.g. be the only massage practitioner in town that works exclusively with new mothers). Or third – you will also need to distinguish yourself in some other way.
You can differentiate yourself by: what you do, how you do it. how much you charge, who you offer it to, when you offer it and where you offer it.
7. they can afford to pay you full price for your products and services.
It’s important that they are able to pay you an amount that feels good and meets your needs. That may be a small amount or a large amount. That’s up to you – but if it’s less than you really want and need you will begin to resent them.
It will drain your energy. And you won’t have enough money to sustain yourself. It will start out as a gesture of goodwill, but will end in bitterness.
8. they are in alignment with your long-term business goals.
If you know where your business is headed long term, it’s just smart to pick clients that will fit with that (e.g. if you do eco-lawn care and want to work with “Golf Courses” eventually, but now need to do residential, it might be wise to focus on people who golf for now so that you can bridge into that later).
Says Dominic Canterbury:
“Let me give you an example: In my recent weekend seminar one of the attendees was an in-home physical trainer. His target: affluent middle-aged Eastside women. He was flummoxed. He’d tried all the traditional forms of marketing but nothing was working. So wielding my magic wand of marketing I says to him, “How about targeting affluent new moms. That way you can develop a set of services to meet their specific needs and you can cross promote with OBGYNs, Dulas and baby stores, and you can get them to pay attention to you by holding informative events or writing an article for local parenting magazines. You might even consider a blog.”
He loved the idea and immediately started coming up with excellent ideas on his own.
So, what makes this a good target and what makes the other suck? I’ll tell ya.
The new target market passes my patented tripartite Target Market Test:
1. They have shared needs you can meet through your business
2. They have hubs of communication
3. There’s enough of them to make it worth your time
The original target passed only #3, and I’m sorry folks, but you have to score high on all of them for it to work.”
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