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Niche markets - thinking inside the square

One of the secrets behind success on the Internet today is effective niche marketing. Traditionally, our niche markets had boundaries such as our town, city, state or country, and then particular groups within those boundaries. Often, the niche, or slice of the market given those restrictive factors wasn't enough to sustain a business.

All that has changed over recent years and now an online business can easily have customers all over the world, making niche markets so much larger.

As an example, in one of my classes a few years ago, I had a student who had a pretty well defined and very unusual interest; she was most passionate about it. It was so unusual that this person had no one locally to bounce ideas off (including me). Actually, there would have been very few people in our city of one million that would have shared the same interests. So this person set off creating their site with very little web design experience or a business plan. 

The result was very impressive, definitely not from a technical point of view, but this site was really drew visitors!

As a species we tend to limit ourselves to what we are taught is the "norm". We look to others to set the example of what we should be doing. Anything falling outside the norm is encouraged to be hidden, if not scorned. Looking to others for guidance and advice is good; but only to the point that it doesn't conflict with your uniqueness - because it's that uniqueness where the greatest creativity within each of us is. Sometimes tried and tested doesn't *always* mean success as what are effective strategies for some will cause others to totally bomb out.

International barriers are breaking down rapidly, thoughts and ideas that were once quashed are now able to mingle in the mainstream. This of course has created a deluge of "undesirable" content on the Internet, but has also given birth to many great products and concepts. 

So many of us in online business keep looking on the Internet for ideas, when at times we really should be looking within ourselves, thinking *inside* the square, but just on a deeper level.

What makes you special as a person? What makes you different from everyone else in your home town? What are your special skills and knowledge that cause people to seek you out, or perhaps even to ridicule you? Bear in mind a genius is often despised in his or her own home town :).

These are the things that can bring you success on the Internet. No matter how individual you believe yourself to be, there are millions of other similar "individuals" world-wide. These are your future visitors, your clients. This is an extraordinary time in human history and it is exciting to be a part of it.

After all, I know the guy that said "I know, I'm going to sell books online" had his fair share of ridicule and criticism - especially since the Internet was considered to be the Grim Reaper for the book trade. I'm referring to Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com deciding to sell books online in 1996. 

So whether you are considering launching a web site for commercial or other reasons, sometimes it's best to stick to what you know and love best - this may well be your perfect niche market.

Don't try to be a one stop shop for every item imaginable in order to define your niche; focus on a particular item or range of items and then build on it from there. I have tried the "let's try everything and see what works" -  it didn't. Around 5 years ago, I tried an online store concept and had over one million products available for purchase - guess how much money I made - zilch. The reason being that I had no idea of what I was selling! No credibility.

By refining your product or concept, you have greater control over it and are able to easily answer visitor queries regarding it. The online consumer is becoming more discerning and they look for people and companies who are authorities and specialists - especially when it comes to small niche markets.

However "off the wall" your interest is, whether it be toenail clipping art or a book you have written on how to successfully annoy ferrets, you might well find it to be a best seller when released to a global audience and promoted well!

Further learning resources:

Internet Marketing, Site Promotion and Etiquette  

Viral marketing 

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
http://www.tamingthebeast.net 
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
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