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The Art of Choosing A Profitable Niche Market Without Selling Your Soul – In 5 Easy Steps

the art of niche marketing
So what does the oldest profession in the world have to do with niche marketing?

I remember getting into a heated discussion with a male friend of mine, who insisted that the reason why the prostitution existed in the world was because women were offering the service.

I staunchly argued that the only reason why that profession existed was because the demand was there first, and if there were no demand, there would be a lot less providers.

This led me to think of the most absurd product one could spend time, energy and money bringing to the market. Just because you manufacture iron spike toilet seats, this doesn’t mean there are enough people out there that want to buy them to make it a profitable business venture.

This is a controversial debate. However, it brings me to 2 critical points I want to make about making money online:

  1. The key to profitability is making sure (in advance) that the product or service you offer is what your market wants.
  2. Not only should they want it, they need to have the ability to pay for it.

This debunks a commonly held belief that I encounter in the Law of Manifestation communities:

“Follow your passion and the money will come…”


Why Your Awesome Product You Slaved to Create Isn’t Selling

I’ve seen a lot of crappy products sell because the marketing was fantastic, and the creator was tapped into the right audience. Having a product that sucks will result in a flood of returns, refund requests, and bite into future sales. But more often than not, lackluster sales has less to do with the product itself and more to do with the marketing.

If you find yourself slaving away to create a quality product you are utterly passionate about – and this happens a lot in the online marketing world – but nobody is buying, chances you have one, or all of the following issues:

  1. You are not connected with the right audience. Somewhere, out there, are people who would love to buy your product or service, they just don’t know it exists.
  2. Your audience doesn’t want this product or service. Did you survey your audience and ask them what they wanted? If not, you need to make a practice of surveying your list on a regular basis, especially before creating anything. NOTE: Creating a product based on survey results is NOT the best way to create a product, because people answer surveys one way, and often vote with their wallets differently. The best way to truly test the viability of a product is to pre-sell it.
  3. Your audience doesn’t have the ability to pay for your product or service. If you are a social entrepreneur who is strongly motivated to help others, you may find yourself starting off as a business, but turning into a charity, especially if you are serving markets that don’t have a lot of abundance, or are characteristically tight-fisted. Before you do the immense work of launching a business, it’s a good idea to determine if there is enough money in your market to make it worth your time.

Whether or not you are already in business or interested in launching one, connecting with the right market segment – one that loves what you do, is hungry for what you offer AND has the ability to pay – is the key to profitability.

So how do you go about finding a profitable market, especially one that you are utterly passionate about, where you know you can shine?

how to find a profitable niche

Step One: Identify Your Unique Genius

Everyone has unique gifts to share with the world that can be leveraged in a way that yields abundance, while fulfilling your life purpose – whatever that might be. Every one of us possesses expertise, talent, and a way of showing up to the job that provides value that others are deeply grateful for, willing to pay for, and that no one else does better than you.

To uncover what your unique genius is, start by identify your best skills and expertise. What are you good at? Or, what are you highly motivated to become good at? What have you accomplished? What accolades have you achieved?

In order to be paid to play in the market you are passionate about, you need to be able to contribute value that your niche is willing to pay for. And people typically pay for skill, expertise, a job well done, and products that solve their urgent problems, or fulfill their desires.

Action Item: This exercise will help you identify your unique genius and build unshakeable confidence in your ability to take on any market. Create a dedicated notebook where you can keep a track of your unique offering, business ideas, competitors, and any marketing inspiration.

  • Make a list of all the skills, expertise, and career wins you’ve accomplished over the years.
  • Ask your friends and colleagues to describe their perception of your gifts and talents.
  • Summarize your unique offering to the world as a 30 second elevator pitch.

For example: “I help social entrepreneurs increase their online visibility so they can reach more people and make a bigger impact.”

Your turn!

Step Two: Identify Your Passion

Personally, I believe if you are going to be involved in any kind of business, it better involve a market you are passionate about, or your day to day will feel like a drag. Work for money’s sake is rarely fulfilling – and more often than not, causes people to fall into a cycle of spending more money on extravagant purchases or exotic vacations just to compensate for the soul-leeching factor of the high paid (high stress) job.

If you don’t have much of a choice – say you are running a family business that manufactures ball bearings – and you don’t see yourself leaving the family biz, you will need to learn to love this business. This requires inner work or an attitude makeover, which is a topic beyond the scope of this article.

Action Item: Brainstorm a list of what you are passionate about, without worrying whether your passion is unrealistic, or whether it’s profitable or not. Write it down in your notebook.

Step Three: Assess the Size of Your Market

The next thing to look into is the size of the market you are passionate about – is there demand? Are there established brands, products, books, conferences, trade associations, networking events, etc that indicate there is a viable market? Are there industry publications that regularly forecast the size of your industry and year over year growth? Is the industry growing or shrinking? How developed is the market ecosystem and who are the players? How competitive is this market? What is the cost of entry and how much more will it cost you to compete?

Determining whether the market has enough demand (and whether or you have enough budget to enter and effectively compete) will save you the trouble of launching a business in a market that doesn’t have enough demand to generate a sustainable livelihood for your efforts. If demand is high, and you can successfully build an audience within this market, you have a good chance of building a profitable business.

Bear in mind, the cost of entry into a market will vary enormously depending on the kind of business you want to launch – and whether your business is brick and mortar or virtual. If building a strong online business presence is your key focus, there are certain Internet markets that are highly lucrative and characterized by web savvy audiences who are eager to buy at the click of a mouse.

If you are interested in making money online while changing the world, check out these 4 highly lucrative Internet markets for changemakers.

Action Item: Going back to your list of passions, begin highlighting markets that look promising and eliminating markets that simply look too difficult to enter, or too small to be profitable.

Step Four: Identify a Profitable Niche

While there are numerous lucrative markets with plenty of room to play, the key to profitability is identifying the right niche to market your products or services to. You see, of the biggest mistakes in marketing is considering “everyone” as your target demographic. Marketing to “everyone” is extremely difficult, chances are, if this is your approach, your product or service will likely be appealing to “no one”.

Gelareh Designs - high end play wear is a great niche market

Gelareh Designs – my favorite purveyors of haute playa wear for Burning Man fashionistas

For example, the fashion industry is huge, and fashion esthetic is highly personal. So you can imagine the challenge of creating a clothing line that appeals to everyone. It will be more fun and profitable to create a line of clothing that you are passionate about, that appeals to your audience so much that they are willing to pay top dollar for it.

Say you are a fashion designer who loves to go to Burning Man. Creating haute couture playa wear for high income Burners will be likely be a much more rewarding endeavor than trying to mass market playa wear to an mainstream audience.

What if you are not sure if your niche is abundant enough to provide a sustainable livelihood?

There’s a science to researching profitable niches online, using tools that analyze consumer behavior. Here’s step by step outline of exactly how you can use the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool to research niche profitability.

I decided to outline this process in a separate post to avoid overwhelming anyone whose new to the concept of niche marketing. However, if this article seems too elementary for you, check out this niche research process that seasoned online marketers use to determine whether a market niche is worth going after.

Action Item: Imagine you are your target customer. Imagine what keywords your customer would type into Google to research the kind of products or services you would offer. Write down your initial seed keyword ideas. Then go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, and start typing them in. Jot down the specific keywords that the Google Keyword Tool is suggesting.

Then follow this 30 minute, step-by-step process to determine niche profitability & competition.

If you are already in a market, but are having trouble reaching the right audience, this exercise in niche market research will help you with your target marketing.

Step Five: Find the Passion – Profit Sweet Spot

When it comes to profitable business ideas, the sky is the limit. Our goal with this exercise is to identify the passion – profit sweet spot, a market you are passionate about filled with people who are eager to pay for the value you offer.

For example, say you used to be a buyer for a company that imports products manufactured in China, and one aspect of your job was to go to trade fairs in China to source products for the US market. Let’s say you are also passionate about sustainability, travel and yoga, but the idea of becoming a world travelling certified yoga instructor is not appealing to you, because it involves a significant decrease in income from what you are used to.

Could there be a product you could manufacture in China that leverages your skill in sourcing, that allows you to immerse yourself in your passion for yoga, sustainability, and travel? Could you produce natural rubber yoga gloves that enable you to practice yoga anywhere without slippage, without having the burden of schlepping a heavy yoga mat around?

Action Item: I encourage you to keep a constant lookout for companies that provide products and services in the spaces you’ve identified a passion in. Take note of the solutions they offer, who they seem to be targeting (single women over 30? families with young children?) and how they position their products. Write this down in your notebook.

If you are already in business, this exercise will also help you refine your target marketing, especially when you analyze your competition is doing to reach the same market.

To summarize, the key to finding a profitable, passion-driven niche is identifying the intersection between your niche market’s demand, your passion, and your skill. When you are able to do this, you will get more bang out of your marketing dollars, while creating a tribe of fans willing to evangelize you, and buy what you have to offer, over and over again.

What do you think?

  • Did niche marketing limit your business or help grow your business?
  • Do you have any niche market research tips? If so, please share them in the comments below!
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