Emotional Direct-Marketing Day 6: How to select a niche (don't read this unless you are willing to think)
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Today’s question comes from Charlotte Fleming, out of Scotland. Charlotte’s been with me for a while – she’s a long-term Seductive Selling Newsletter member, and she was one of the first people to order my book when it came out. She sent this in:
My biggest challenge as a copywriter (over in sunny Scotland) is – still – knowing who my target market is. After all, a copywriter can write for pretty much anyone – I’ve no specific niche, though a lot of my work seems to be writing web sites. How do you aim at “everyone”?!?
Or, more to the point, how do I niche myself?
Thanks for any help you can suggest!”
This is a common concern for loads of people — whether they are freelance writers or consultants, or even if you’re just thinking about getting into, or expanding your current business.
Here’s the deal: Before selecting your niche, it’s important you have some kind of criteria. Frankly, this topic is so extensive, it’s probably worthy of it’s own product. In fact, I have somewhere between 10 to 15 different criteria of my own, but let me give you 3 criteria you can start with.
1. Is your market profitable?
This is very important. There are loads of businesses out there, for example, where you eek out a living… but you’ll never make a killing in them.
For instance, let’s look at office supplies. If you are a local – or even a regional office supply firm, it’s tough to make a HUGE income, simply because office supplies is a commodity kind of business. Sales are virtually 100% driven by ‘low price.’
And any time you’re in a commodity-type of business, where you’re offer is ‘we have the lowest price,’ you will be forever climbing a virtual endless mountain, as long as you’re in business.
So you probably want to deal in markets where the margins are high, and where there’s lots of NET profit and cash-flow waiting for you.
Things like consulting… publishing… financial services… real estate… and other service or product sales where the markup is 8 to 20 times the cost of the actual product itself.
These kinds of businesses let you absorb lead acquisition costs in stride, so you can get the kinds of clients and customers you want, without having to go broke doing so.
2. What do you want to sell?
If you want to sell one-on-one consulting, this again, is completely different from selling consumer products. You have to decide whether or not you want to have customer interaction, or whether you want to be ‘invisible’ in your business.
I’m a firm believer you should actually enjoy what you’re doing. It’s YOUR business — so there are no ‘victims’ here — only volunteers. If you don’t like working with a certain clientele, or selling a certain kind of product… then don’t do it.
There are endless opportunities out there to do things you like, so choose wisely.
3. Is there easy access to prospects?
You don’t want to sell something that’s so unique, it’s virtually impossible to find your prospects.
For instance, it’s fairly easy to find people who collect baseball cards. There are mailing lists you can buy to send them stuff in the mail… trade magazines to advertise in… and loads of people who already sell them products that you can team up with, in joint venture or affiliate or wholesale relationships.
But how about selling things to baseball players?
I don’t care if you’ve developed something that’s going to add a minimum of ten feet to every ball they hit — unless you have some way of getting inside MLB, you’re going to be out of luck.
So accessibility to your customers is a CRITICAL thing you’re going to want to consider, whenever you’re looking at any kind of a marketplace.
So now that you have some baseline criteria, how do you go about selecting what market to get in to?
In simplest form, you find out what people are buying. You then look at each of these marketplaces… and you apply your subjective criteria — like the three items I listed a minute ago.
Then, whatever marketplace meets the most important criteria you have, you start there.
I know this sounds easy, and there’s usually a lot of research put in to this, but here’s the real deal about choosing a marketplace. See, in Charlotte’s case, and in many cases like this, the road to choosing a niche is simply a matter of taking the first step.
Here’s what I mean: In life, and especially in business, a lot of the things we do, don’t work out as planned. Sometimes, they don’t work out at all.
But the tuition, and the wisdom, that comes from taking those first few steps, is generally so valuable… your subsequent moves after this, can then RAPIDLY make huge differences in your business and in your life.
For example, when you’re writing copy, it’s very rare the words you first put down on your paper wind up being the final words in your sales letter or ad. There’s generally a lot of editing that goes on in between, right?
Well selecting a niche or starting a business, is no different. There are LOADS of footsteps you’re going to take between your first one, and your last one.
The key is, to just get moving on the footpath, and then to simply use common sense with each new path you come cross.
But simple? Yes.
Now go sell something, Craig Garber
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