“Everyone from the age of 18-55”, he said.
He was the fifth person on the same day to give me the same answer when I asked: “Who is your target audience?”
And I knew he wouldn’t be the last.
There will be many more to come who will respond the same way in the future.
And that bothers me.
Because if you approach marketing like that, you are bound to fail.
Because when you say 18-55, your audience is pretty much everybody.
And if everybody is your audience, then nobody is your audience.
If nobody is your audience, then what are you even doing?
To illustrate my point, imagine this: I ask you to sell a mobile phone to an 18-year-old boy and a 55-year-old woman.
Would you try to sell to both of them the same way? What factors do you think you will change in the way you sell to these two different people? Just think about it for a minute.
If your sales pitch is going to be different, then how can your target audience be anyone who falls in the 18-55 category? How will you make sure that your communication appeals to both an 18-year-old AND a 55-year-old?
You simply can’t.
I have a feeling you are currently thinking “Thank god, my target market is only the people who are in the age group of 18-30” or something on those lines.
Do you think an 18-year-old and a 30-year-old think the same way? Are they motivated in the same way? They have similar needs and wants? That they have the same priorities?
18-30 is still not a niche market.
Then what is a niche market, you ask?
Allow me to explain what it is, why you must go niche, and how to choose your niche market.
What is a niche market?
A niche is a submarket of a submarket of a market.
That’s how a 5-year-old would explain it because that’s how I would explain it to him or her. It is also the simplest way to understand what a niche market means.
(And btw, the British pronunciation is nee-sh.)
To understand what a niche market is, let’s zoom out.
You see, pretty much everything that we consume can be put under three major markets:
Health, Wealth & Relationships.
Every single one of your audience, including yourself, is trying to improve these aspects of their life. Whatever they do, whatever they buy and whatever they consume is directly related to either their health, wealth and relationships
These are needs, or desires, that is hardwired into all of us.
You cannot escape it.
You cannot control it.
It’s something that has always been there, and we have come to terms with it.
You have a desire to survive, enjoy life and extend it as much as possible (Health)
You desire to have a roof over your head, food on your plate and means to acquire it (Wealth)
You crave for sexual companionship, social approval and a sense of belonging. (Relationships)
You will do everything to satisfy these core biological instincts.
And to satisfy these needs, the industry, where all businesses operate in, exists.
And everyone who is seeking to satisfy these needs forms a market.
(A crude way to understand this is that all sellers form an industry and all buyers form a market)
For example, let’s consider the “Wealth” market.
To acquire wealth, a person might want to get a job or start a business or invest. These different segments of people are your target markets.
Now, not everyone would want to satisfy their needs the same way. For example, not everyone would want to get a job the same way. So might want to be an engineer, some a doctor, or some like you, might want to become a digital marketer. These segments of your market are your submarket.
Even a submarket, might have a lot of people, especially in a country like India. So if you want a more specific market, you add a layer of demographic data with specific needs.
For instance, let’s take the example from above of someone trying to get a digital marketing job. Instead of targeting everyone who wants a digital marketing job, I will add a few demographic layers, let’s say both men and women between the age of 18-22, from metro cities, who are into engineering but want a digital marketing job.
Now that is a niche market.
A very specific market with a very specific need.
You can “niche-it-down” further and go even more specific by adding more demographic layers. For example, men who are 21-22, from Bangalore, who are in the final year of engineering, who are planning to get into a digital marketing job.
You can continue doing this until you are addressing a very specific audience which is big enough with a very specific need AND has enough demand.
But why go through this trouble at all in the first place? Why should you go niche?
Why is it important to go niche?
Going niche is not just a phrase that keeps getting thrown around in digital marketing.
It is a marketing function. In fact, it’s a business function.
As a business function, there is one simple reason to go niche: less competition.
The more niche you go, the lesser your competition will be. The lesser your competition, the higher the chances of your success.
Now, as a marketing function, to increase your chances of success, you should achieve what is called category leadership. Al Ries and Jack Trout first suggested this concept in their book, 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.
To help you understand category leadership, let me ask you this question: who was the first prime minister of India?
There is a good chance most of you know that Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister of India.
But can you tell me, without googling, who the second prime minister of India is?
It’s unfortunate not enough people know that Lal Bahadur Shashtri was the second prime minister of India.
It’s ok, don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s not your fault, it’s the way we function. We always try to remember the most important things. And the way we do that is we pick the best or the number 1 from each category and don’t bother about the rest. This is why attaining category leadership is essential.
Now quickly, tell me who the first woman prime minister of India is. I hope you said Indira Gandhi because you would be right then.
How could you remember her name even though she is the 6th prime minister and you couldn’t even remember the second prime minister of India?
That’s because, when you are the category leader, you not only acquire market share but also mind share, which will make your marketing easier.
And the easiest way to become a category leader? Create a new category.
You remembered Indira Gandhi because she is the category “leader” (number 1) in the woman prime minister category. She created a new category for herself and guess what? No competition, so it was natural for her to be a category leader and for you to remember it easily.
And that’s why it is so vital to go niche.
When you go niche, you create a category for yourself, and you can be number 1 in that.
So if I become a digital marketing trainer for everyone, I will be competing with plenty of institutes, online courses etc.
But if I position myself as a digital marketing trainer for engineering students who are 21-22, from Bangalore and is looking to get a digital marketing job, I have a higher chance of success because I have a higher chance of being a category leader there.
Once I have saturated this market, I can always leverage the experience and positioning to move into other niches. For example, once I saturate the final year student market, I would also start digital marketing training for first-year students so that they can start learning early.
And then I move on to another niche and another and so on.
Even from a digital marketing perspective, or SEO perspective to be specific, going niche provides similar benefits. When you go niche, you don’t compete with the big guys, which increases your chances of ranking in the search engines.
This is why even affiliate marketers suggest that a “micro-niche” is the best niche to target in affiliate marketing. A “micro-niche” in affiliate marketing is a niche which is extremely specific which just a handful of keywords to target.
Also, when you go niche, your communication becomes more specific.
Going with the same example of above, if I had to create a content piece for digital marketing job aspirants, instead of writing an article which says “How to get a digital marketing job”, I would instead create a content piece which says “Final year Engineering? Here’s how you can land a digital marketing job in Bangalore.”
When my communication becomes specific, it attracts a specific set of audience, which I will be able to convince better because I understand his/her specific needs and problems.
Mind you, the meat of the content for both articles might be the same (getting a job is the same process for everyone). But how you position it and how you write it and who you write it to will help you achieve that mindshare.
I am pretty sure you are convinced to go niche, but how do you go about it?
How to find a niche market?
Step 0: Make sure you don’t hate it
It was tempting to say to find the right niche, follow your passion, but I thought I would leave it to the other guys when it comes to such hollow crappy advice.
You obviously should be choosing your niche based on something that you are at least mildly interested in, if not passionate.
Listen, I understand that not everyone is passionate, and if they are, they are not entirely sure what it is.
So let’s work backwards.
Just ensure that you don’t detest or hate the market, which might make things easier for you. For example, don’t try to start something in fitness when you hate going to the gym. That’s an easy filter to have. Or don’t try to get into something that you don’t truly understand, e.g., I might never get into cryptocurrency because I don’t truly understand it (who does anyway?).
Step 1: Choose and define a market
Once you have filtered out all the things you despise and don’t understand, list down a few things that you are moderately interested in.
And no, you don’t have to be an expert in that niche or market . If you have a basic understanding of the niche, that’s good enough.
I can hear your conscience screaming “But that doesn’t sound right Sanjay”. Honestly, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
But that doesn’t mean you scam your way through the market. You still HAVE to care about your audience and understand their problems and provide solutions.
Unless you are building a personal brand, it’s ok NOT to be an expert and learn things along the way. In fact, by just taking the leap you will learn a lot of things. Take those learnings and convert them into useful content.
If you are building a personal brand, you can just document your journey. Tell people what you learnt, how you applied your learnings and what kind of results you got and again, what you learnt from it. People will LOVE it. Trust me; people love authenticity more than expertise because it’s more relatable.
And to illustrate my point, i’ll work with you.
Let’s say I pick the health market. But “health” is a broad term, which need should I be trying to satisfy? I think I will go after fitness because people have a strong need and desire to stay fit (and thereby healthy).
Also, I don’t hate it, I understand it enough, and I am definitely not an expert in it but know enough to get started.
Step 2: Carve out a submarket.
Let’s get a little more specific with the market. We know we are targeting the fitness market, but fitness is so vast in itself. Is it going to be strength training? Bodyweight workouts? High-intensity interval training? Yoga? Aerobic? Sports? Callisthenics?
I am just scratching the surface here, and I can keep going with the fitness market but let’s pick one, say bodyweight workouts.
Now that would be my submarket.
This is one way to come up with a submarket, or you can also mix two markets to come up with a new submarket. For e.g., strength training for sportspersons.
You see not everyone who is into strength training wants to be a sportsperson and vice versa. But there is a section of them, where both markets overlap, who want both. This automatically becomes a submarket you can go after. But for the sake of this example, I am going to continue with my earlier choice, which is bodyweight workouts.
But think about it; everybody who has an able body can perform bodyweight workouts. The submarket is still a big market (this can happen to you even when you mix two different markets). I need to get even more specific than that. How do I do that?
Step 3: Add a layer of demographic data to this.
Who are you targeting? Let’s define the audience a little bit.
Are they men or women or both? What age group do they fall under? Are they working professionals, have a job or run their own business? Are they married? Do they have kids?
For my bodyweight workout example, I am going to choose men who are aged between 29-32 who have a day job and commute to work and are planning to get married soon.
Now that I know this information, I can draw a lot of insights from this. For starters, I know that they have a certain amount of disposable income coming in every month. And because they are not married yet, this means that their priorities are themselves and their needs.
I can also infer since they have a day job and are commuting to work, they don’t have a lot of time.
You might notice that planning to get married is actually a completely different core biological need (relationships) and is a strong one. I can capitalize on this and use this in my communication and to craft my program accordingly.
I will go a step further and try to write down my audience’s dreams and hopes(what they want to achieve at any cost), pains & fears (what they want to avoid at all costs) and barriers & uncertainties (all the things stopping them from achieving what they want)
So for my example:
Dreams & Hopes: To lose belly fat and have a fit body ready for marriage
Pains & Fears: They hate going to the gym because it’s very intimidating to see all the machines and of course, the gym bros.
Barriers & uncertainties: They have no idea about where to start, what kind of exercises they have to do, what type of food to eat, what kind of supplements to have and most importantly they are not consistent enough.
And just like that, without you noticing, I found my niche.
I can use all of these insights to not only craft a solution but also to craft my communication.
So a part of the solution, I have to come up with a bodyweight program, that they can do at home (they don’t have time) without equipment (they hate the gym) with the right kind of exercises and diet (they have no knowledge) and they want it fast because they want to get married soon.
As you can imagine, I can do the same to come up with content ideas.
Isn’t it pretty simple if you go step by step? You can do the same to come up with your own niche too. But wait, there is one more important thing left to do.
Step 4: Assess the demand for that niche
What’s the point if you came up with a great niche and there is not enough demand? Of course, you can say that I will generate demand (using Facebook ads etc), but I would always suggest picking a niche where there is some demand, a hungry niche market, that you can validate and then proceed to the demand generation part.
To do this, the most simple thing you can do is some basic keyword research. Head Over to your favourite keyword research tool (eg: Ubersuggest) and pop in your submarket and check the search volume, which signifies the demand in the market. I used SEMrush, and this is what I found:
You have to understand that sometimes you might not find that your niche or submarket does not have enough search volume. This might be because you are too narrow, or people use different terms in your location. See, when I changed the term “bodyweight workout” to “bodyweight exercise”, there was more than 2X increase in the demand.
Here, when I went a little broader and changed the term to “home workout”, there was an 8X increase in demand.
Let me remind you that you are ONLY trying to validate your market here. Don’t dig too deep into the metrics at this point; you can do that while performing keyword research for your content.
I think this search volume more than validates that there definitely is a market to go after.
You can go a step further, and check on Amazon to see if any products are being sold, which can be an indicator of the profitability of your niche. If other players (competitors) are operating in your niche, it’s a great sign because they have validated the market for you.
As you can see, many many products are being sold for my niche, which signifies that the market is ripe and ready to be captured.
Again, you are just trying to do a quick assessment of the niche here and not going to deep. In this case, having 2000 products is a great sign that there is enough demand in this niche. And since it has so many products, it’s also a great niche to target for amazon affiliate marketing.
And that’s it! Now not only do you have a niche but a niche with enough demand you can go after.
Honestly, I have tried to simplify the process as much as possible because people get stuck in this phase very often. Having said that, these are not rules; these are just guidelines.
Feel free to break them and come up with your own way to arrive at a niche. Skip a couple of steps if you feel like, add a couple more if you want to, it’s entirely left to you.
As long as your niche satisfies a core need or desire, is specific enough, has enough demand and is profitable, you are good to go. And besides, if you make a mistake, don’t worry too much about it, you can always go back to fixing your niche, it’s not like it’s set in stone is it.
Now it’s your turn, tell me what your niche is (if you wish to) and how did you get to it? Or is there any problem you are facing in finding a niche for yourself. Share your journey with all of us.
P.S : While I was researching, I happened to come across some of the best niches you can go after online or even offline for that matter. I am planning to create a PDF of the same. Let me know in the comments below if you would be interested to receive it.