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WHY FINDING A NICHE IS SO IMPORTANT TO SMALL BUSINESSES
by: Cary Christian


I'm sure you've read a lot of articles in ezines and on websites that talk about finding a niche. I've talked about it quite a bit myself.

It's considered a given that finding a niche is important, and it's a very logical concept, but have you ever been shown just what it can mean to you from a market standpoint?

You've probably moved beyond having your business built on nothing but affiliate programs and have one or more products of your own. You may even be a distributor of some quality name brand products. But whatever you sell, if you're ignoring looking for niches in your market, you're leaving BIG money on the table.


HOW BIG IS YOUR MARKET?

Depending on who you believe, there are anywhere from 500 million to 1 billion people online and the ranks grow by the thousands on a daily basis. Some people will tell you that if you can just sell to a tiny fraction of these hundreds of millions of people you will generate wealth beyond your wildest dreams.

There are two problems with that scenario that usually are not addressed when someone makes that statement:

1. Not everyone is in the market for the products you sell; and

2. It does not consider how much competition you have in a given market.

First of all, the number of users on the Internet isn't the number that is important. Let's break it down to what IS important: how many of these people are likely to be interested in your product?

1. 500 million to 1 billion users include fathers, mothers, sons and daughters in the same household. Assuming the estimates of the number of people online are somewhat accurate, let's say there are 200 million households.

2. Of these 200 million households, most are online to track their stock portfolios, play games, chat with friends, learn new things, explore their hobbies, and so forth. In other words, the Internet is like TV and telephones. It's an information and entertainment source. Many of these people would never consider buying online. Let's assume that 25 percent of these people would buy online (again, depending on whose information you believe).

3. You are down to 50 million potential customers for your online products. If you are selling consumer electronics, DVDs, books, computers, and most of the other general categories of products that people DO buy online, you're going to have to compete with very large organizations who have tremendous buying power, enormous marketing resources, and almost universal brand and name recognition. If you have a few gazillion dollars laying around you can probably catch up to them in your lifetime.

4. This leaves you with a very small piece of the pie to fight for. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that you have no chance of surviving if you are going to compete head-to-head with the behemoths selling commonly available products.

The truth is, the general market is the wrong market for you every single time, no matter what you sell. You run a small business. Your ONLY option is to find a niche.


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FIND A NICHE?

Now let's take the flipside. You've recognized that selling generally available consumer items is not where you want to be. You do your research and find a nice niche in supplying anti-fog sunglasses for golfers that have specially coated lenses that help them read the greens better. You've tried them yourself and think they are absolutely fantastic! You can buy them for $45.00 and sell them for $90.00 and the company will drop ship one pair at a time for you or will sell you inventory on terms. None of the major golf retailers are offering this or a similar product yet.

Depending on who you believe, there are about 30 million golfers worldwide and more than half of them are online. Therefore, you have a potential market of 15 million individuals. At the moment, you have NO competition for this product.

Compare that to deciding to sell golf clubs online. Then you would be competing with the behemoths again and would have little chance of winning the battle. But remember the old adage "If you can't beat them, join them?" Put that to work for you.

You see, you've now found a second benefit to serving a niche market. Allow me to explain.

You're the only company supplying these glasses, so you have an audience of 15 million potential customers. Join the affiliate program of one of the golf retailing giants and place links on your site. Many people will buy your glasses and then click your affiliate link to look for other golf equipment. Now you're putting the giant retailer's trade name, brand recognition, and marketing power in your corner instead of fighting it.

The niche makes marketing other products easier. You'll develop your own brand recognition within your niche, and your recommendations of other products will mean more.

The niche you find might not be as good as the one in this example, but by virtue of it being a niche, it will still be a one-to-many rather than a many-to-many relationship which will make it infinitely more profitable. Additionally, if you make the market, you have the opportunity to dominate it! YOU will be the behemoth to the next company that wants to sell on your turf.

And that, both numerically and philosophically, is why you have to find a niche. Once you look at the numbers it becomes so obvious that this is the only way to go you'll wonder how anyone can miss it. But they do. All the time.

Is it easy to find a niche? No, it takes a lot of work combined with a little creativity, but the payoff can be enormous.

In the very near future I'll cover some specific ways you can go about finding a niche of your own.


Copyright (c) 2003

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