When a customer comes to me to ask for advice about his or her business, I often start by asking them who their targeted customers are. Quite often, the answer comes back the same: Everybody.
Unfortunately, when you strive to make everybody your customer, nobody is your customer! Here's the problem:
By trying to be all things to all people, you end up diminishing your capacity to be of any value to anyone at all! So people who are on the Internet looking for value may turn to your site but then they turn to your competitor's site because your competitor provides better value to them. It's the old concept of spreading yourself too thin!
So what can you do? How do you develop that niche? It may seem counter-intuitive, but you have to reduce your customer base to increase your sales. Here's how:
1. First, you need to figure out what you sell and what needs you serve. When you know what kind of problem you solve and what need you serve, you may be able to identify who your general niche is. For example, if you own a car care site, your niche is not everyone, since many people don't own cars... or even have licenses. So already you've cut your niche down! (See, it isn't that hard).
2. Next, you need to see what your competitors are doing. Look really close at their site. Look at the language they use to describe products, look at the advertising (there's lots of clues there!), and look at the topics they talk about. Maybe they're serving a niche and you didn't realize it. In the car care website example, perhaps you notice that a lot of your competitors are marketing to male car owners; a traditional market. Can you do better? Sure. Why not market to female car owners? Great!
3. Now comes the hard part. Cut that niche in half. Yes, you read that correctly. Cut it right in half. Depending on the niche, that might work in different ways. In the car care website example, you might say that your site only serves... first time female car owners. Or the "soccer mom" segment.
Now you're getting somewhere! All of a sudden you can target your advertising to a very specific market. And, when you're letting other people put advertisements on your site, you'll be able to boast that you have a highly targeted niche. You can put affiliated links to a variety of non-competing sites that offer great value to a specific market. You can create podcasts that your niche will subscribe to because the shows are highly applicable.
For example, if you have the "soccer mom" niche, you might want to advertise your own site in a parenting magazine, and accept money from advertisers for similar types of magazines. And you may want to create a podcast that talks to moms about parenting tips, traveling with children, and car care all at the same time! On that same website, why not offer free coloring pages that moms can print and take with them in the car?
Here's why it works. When people browse the Internet, they're looking for information. And whether they realize it or not, they're looking for information that is applicable to them. Everything else just unconsciously bounces off.
So when the soccer mom sees that you're providing a valuable site that is geared strictly to her needs and interests, she is more inclined to stay, click, learn... and buy! And, when she's on the soccer field with the other soccer moms and they're talking about car problems, guess who she's going to recommend? The one who has great tips that she understands, gives good information, has fantastic links to related sites, and even provides free coloring pages for her kids!
And now you can start making more money because the people who will now be clicking onto your site will be targeted consumers who know that you provide information that is applicable to them. And affiliate advertisers will come flocking to your highly targeted site because they know that you serve only a tiny sliver of the population... but that sliver is buying what you're selling! Are you marketing an e-book on car care? Tweak it a little bit and make it an e-book that the soccer mom can put in her glove compartment when she's traveling to help her diagnose car problems.
See? Once you have a very tight niche, it becomes easy to come up with highly creative, highly targeted products for your market.
Sure, it seems counter-intuitive to reduce your niche to make money, but it works. So now here's your homework: Even if you are very successful, is there a way you can chop off some of that niche to become even more specialized? Can you spin off part of your site to a group that is even more targeted than your original site? Think about it. You may find that reducing your customers can make you more money!
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