Peak SBC, LLC  



The SBC Small Business Newsletter

presented by the Peak Small Business Center



January 11, 2003

Table of Contents



Quote of the Week


Featured Resource - BIT BUCKET HEAVEN


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Quote of the Week

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.

- Howard Hathaway Aiken, physicist and computer pioneer



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Featured Resource


Here's a site with a great collection of links to free tools online. Need a special tool for something and just haven't been able to find it? Check here.  

Staff Article

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.


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.


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

Guest Article


by Bob Osgoodby

Studies show that you have less than five seconds to get the attention of a reader. Think about your daily newspaper. Most people scan the paper. If the headline gets their attention, they will probably read the rest of the article. If it doesn't, they probably skip over that story, and continue scanning until they see something of interest.

The first thing that should be seen is your headline. If you look at your Newspaper, the headlines are usually short, in a larger type, bold print, and give a good idea as to what the article is all about.

The same holds true when writing an advertisement. If your headline is weak, your ad probably won't get read. Your headline can make or break your ad campaign.

Probably the most difficult copy to write is for a classified ad. You only have four or five lines to get your message across including your headline. If you can put your headline in bold print, that will make it stand out. If you can't, consider adding special characters such as - ## your headline ##. We are conditioned to read letters and numbers, but not special characters. This will help your headline to stand out.

Another trick is to use white space. A headline that is centered on the first line of the ad is more noticeable than one that is buried in the rest of the text. If your headline is short (3 or 4 words) consider using ALL CAPS. Notice I said - consider.  Never put your entire ad in all caps as we are not conditioned to read something written that way. Also, many people take offense to something written in all caps. That is considered as SHOUTING, at least on the Internet.

So how do you develop an effective headline?

First - write your ad. Make it as long as you want, and make sure you get all of your ideas included. Then, without mercy, cut it to about 5 lines of 65 characters per line. "But", you might say, "I can't get all of my points across in something that short". Face it - you are not trying to sell your entire program with this one ad. You are however, trying to get someone's attention. If they respond, you can send them all the follow-up information necessary.

After you have your ad written, then try to develop some catchy headlines. Keep them short and try to grab your readers attention. After you have written a few - test, retest and test again. If your ad is in a place that is normally read by your target market, such as an E-zine or Newsletter, you should be able to determine which ads are pulling. You should concentrate this initial advertising in one or two well known publications, so as to keep your costs to a minimum while you are experimenting.

When you find an ad that is working, then you can expand your ad program. In the advertising programs we offer, we see many people competing for the same customer base, with the same product. Good headlines can increase the responses you receive.

Great headlines can ensure that you are getting business while others who are running basically the same ad copy, but with a "blah" headline don't.


Did you know that subscribers to Bob Osgoodby's Free Ezine the "Tip of the Day" get a Free Ad for their Business at his Web Site? Great Business and Computer Tips - Monday thru Friday.  Instructions on how to place your ad are in the Newsletter.

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