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Why It Pays to Find Your Niche Online

Gaining leverage with power, positioning and profitability

Are you a jack of all trades, master of none? Then it’s time to find a niche! Selling in a niche market gives your business the three P’s—power, positioning and profitability. And those three P’s result in a strong and sustainable business.

One of the first rules of success in business is that you can’t be all things to all people. In today’s competitive e-commerce landscape, that’s truer than ever.

When you sell in a niche, you’re not only selling your products, you’re also honing your expertise, experience and unique selling position (called your USP) in that niche. This is what sets you apart from the competition and gives you the momentum of competitive advantage.

What is a Niche?

A niche market is a profitable segment of a larger market. When you sell in a niche you focus on supplying products and services exclusively to that market. Women’s apparel is a profitable market. Women’s plus-size apparel is a hot niche. Eco-friendly products are a fast-growing market. Eco-friendly products for the home are a booming niche. Sites that focus on telescopes, or kitchen gadgets, or snowboarding equipment, or apparel and accessories are all examples of niche businesses.

When you sell in a niche market, you can easily identify the specific needs of your market. And those needs can be translated directly into products to sell.

While you can make a “variety store” business model work, when you find a niche and focus on that market, it gives you tremendous leverage as an entrepreneur.

Power

Focusing on a niche empowers you to get really good at one thing

Would you like your Web site or store to become a destination site on the Web? You can achieve this when you focus on being the best in your niche. You won’t be able to compete with Costco Online when it comes to price and selection, but when you focus on a niche like the Juggling Store does, you can be one of the top three juggling supply and circus arts stores on the Web.

Focusing on a niche empowers you to get really good at one thing. You can serve your customers better, make smarter product sourcing decisions, build a niche network of suppliers and resources, and focus your valuable time and energy on becoming the best in your market. Compare this to the generalist who splinters their time, energy and expertise among a variety of markets, thereby diluting their power in every market they sell in.

As a “solopreneur,” the money you have to invest in your business may be limited. When you sell in a niche market, you can spend your money in areas that will translate directly into ROI (return on investment) for your business. For example, attending trade shows for five different industries would be costly and time consuming. Attending one or two trade shows a year in your niche industry will allow you to get to know the vendors, attend the trade show training classes and, most importantly, apply the knowledge to your business.

Positioning

Branding a niche business is infinitely easier and more effective than trying to accomplish the same for a variety store business. A business that sells retro kitchenware will have a name, look and feel that reflects the products being sold. A spa products site will reflect serenity and good health. The colors, sales copy and style on the Web site should all support the brand. This builds confidence and connection with your customers. Your business will resonate with what your customers are looking for.

Internet shopping is a search-driven business. This means your Web site or store must be optimized for the keywords that will drive buyers to it. It’s extremely difficult to optimize a variety store for the search engines.

When you become the best in your niche, customers are willing to pay more for the knowledge, expertise and added value you provide

When a customer goes online looking for wedding favors and finds your store in the search engines, they expect to arrive at a wedding-themed site. If they land on a page that has wedding favors, dog beds and baking dishes, it will not be in alignment with what they expected. A niche wedding site however, can use all of the wedding-related keywords that reflect the products being sold.

WhatDoISell member Wai Hong Fong, based in Australia, is the owner of nine successful niche Web sites. His OZScopes telescope site is completely optimized for one thing: telescopes. Australian customers searching for telescopes will immediately find his site because it is an optimized niche site, incorporating both good search engine terms as well as customer-oriented expectations. This is the first step to gaining powerful positioning in the search engines.

Profitability

Leverage is the key to growing a profitable online business. When you leverage your marketing efforts, your inventory capital, your time servicing customers and your knowledge in a niche market, you’ll make more for every dollar and hour you spend on your business.

When you become the best in your niche, customers are willing to pay more for the knowledge, expertise and added value you provide. If you’re only “selling a product online,” you put yourself in the position of a commodity seller with all of the price-driven competition. When you’re a niche seller, you know your customers so well that you anticipate their shopping needs before they do. And they are willing to pay for that!

There’s an old adage in retail: There are riches in niches. And there’s no doubt about it! Fortunately there are millions of niche, sub-niche and micro-niche markets out there to sell in (with new ones being created every day) just waiting for you to market in.

About the author

Lisa Suttora
Lisa Suttora is an internationally known e-commerce expert, internet marketing strategist and veteran trend spotter. As founder and CEO of WhatDoISell.com, Suttora has helped thousands of enterprising entrepreneurs build successful, niche-based online businesses. Since 2004, WhatDoISell.com has provided premier education and a global community for online retailers. To get the latest on hot product niches and trends, subscribe to Suttora's free trend sheet Hot Trend Alerts. Suttora also has a 15-day e-course to help sellers make money on today's eBay. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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