[Note: With online writing collaborations and communities forming all the time, it's common for authors to "swap articles" or "guest post" on one another's blog. This is the first guest post I've accepted, courtesy of Aneeta Sundararaj, founder of How to Tell a Great Story, who has given me permission to reprint her article, below. Enjoy!]
“4 Steps to Finding Success in a Niche Market” by Aneeta Sundararaj
The phrase ‘niche market’ refers to a specific group of people who are willing to invest in your products and services. Finding success in a niche market, however, goes beyond doing something you love. Follow the steps below to get an idea what to look for and how to go about creating a niche market before you start creating products and services to sell.
To make more sense of the process described, assume the following is true: your dream is to become a published author. Although you were born in Thailand, and still have family there, you moved to the UK many years ago. At present, you work in the sales department of a company that designs websites. Lastly, you love cooking Thai food and people are always asking for your recipes.
Step 1: Choose Your Niche Market
The first step is to identify what you are interested in and passionate about. List out the following:
• Things you know.
• Things you have experience doing.
• Things that people are constantly seeking your advice about.
Once you have this list, going through the next few steps will be smooth. You will feel energized and excited because you’ll be doing homework on subjects you love.
Step 2: Locate a Niche Market Related to Your Interest
Think about where you are likely to find people who have similar interests to yours. With the above example in mind, consider the following:
• For your publishing dreams, get involved in the publishing industry. Seek out local printers, photographers and designers to find out the general costs of publishing a book.
• How you are going to sell your book? As you work for company that designs websites, consider setting up a website to sell your books.
• Start collating your recipes in an orderly manner.
A broad idea of the kind of book you would like to publish emerges – a cookbook that focuses on Thai cuisine. Do not rush to write this book just yet. Do a little more research into what products or services you can provide.
Step 3: Research Businesses that Cater to Your Niche Markets
Research by looking out for existing businesses that cater to these markets, noting down detailed information. Using the general idea of a cookbook mentioned above, collate the following information:
• What cookbooks are being sold at present?
• Do the cookbooks being sold at present have a lot of photographs in them?
• Who are your competitors in publishing such a cookbook?
• Are published authors of cookbooks providing ancillary services such as cooking classes?
• How much are people willing to pay for a good cookbook?
• Who are your potential customers? Be as precise as you possibly can when identifying your potential customer.
• Identify the one thing that will motivate your potential customers to buy from you.
Step 4: Refine Your Research
Finally, you are ready to refine your research to expose a market that is untapped and not saturated. Do it! Using the internet, you have the ability to gather a wealth of information with the click of a mouse. Join newsgroups, discussion boards and chat with people who are in your industry. For example, you might find that many Europeans love Thai food, but cannot easily obtain essential herbs and spices for Thai cuisine, like lemongrass. After a long day at work, many would like to have their meals delivered to them. When this step is completed, you will have narrowed down your ideas:
• To write a cookbook focusing on Thai cuisine.
• To create a website where you can promote and sell your cookbook.
• Since you still have family in Thailand, you can arrange to have spices delivered directly to your customers once they’ve made payment through your website.
Once all the steps above have been followed, establishing a niche market hinges on choosing products and services that people already want. In the long run, you will save a lot of time and money.
Copyright Aneeta Sundararaj
[First published on Suite101 on August 6, 2011. Read more at "Suite101: 4 Steps to Finding Success in a Niche Market.]