Sometimes, being a jack of all trades can be great. In the not too distant past I labeled myself as one and truly thought this was a good thing. When I was applying for jobs this came in handy and it even made sense. When I began to think about being my own boss, however, I found that was not going to be possible anymore. I needed to find my niche and get focused on a particular set of people and businesses to build all my marketing around. I did loads of research to figure out who I could best serve with my particular skill set. This is the beginning I needed.
Knowing who you should be focusing your attention on is one of the best things to do when taking your business online or starting a new one. The Web is a massive store of knowledge, services, and products. How you stick out is important! However, why you stick out to potential customers and clients is equally important. I like to start by analyzing my competition.
Find out who your direct competitors are and become a “customer” of theirs. Get on their site with the mindset that your potential customer or client would have and go through their on-boarding process. If you’re selling physical products, buy at least 2 products from each of your competitors. This sounds weird, but you have to know what you’re up against from every aspect of customer satisfaction and fulfillment. Could you find what you were looking for easily? Was it easy to make a purchase? Were you told when your item(s) shipped? Did they arrive when you expected and without damage?
Understanding where the competition excels and fails is a great place to start finding your niche. This is where you can shine. Let’s stay with selling products online as our example. Loads of businesses offer products. Now, you sell a specific type of product. Great! You sell to a specific group of people, your target demographic. Excellent! Off to a great start, but there is a good deal of competition in the market for your goods. Not to worry. You have 3 top competitors selling similar types of products to the same demographic. Alright, so you have to beat 3 businesses. Not too bad. Where do you start?
Research: Step 1
Your first step in the research process is to figure out who your competition is. You already know that you have 3 competitors in your space. Good news! Find out as much as you can about each of them. This knowledge is going to be super important in the next few steps and in figuring out your marketing strategy to beat your competition on something other than price.
Never compete on price because that puts you into the not making money zone. Your business will fail and all your hard work will have been for nothing.
Research: Step 2
Get to know your competition from the perspective of a customer or client. Purchase the items that are most closely related to yours from each of these competitors and do some quality control. Do they look good? Do they function as expected? How are they like your products? How are they different from your products? Knowing how your products and services stack up is a great way to find the differences between you and the competition and capitalize on them.
While you’re making these purchases, be aware of every step of the process and write down what you like and what you don’t like. Maybe they try to up-sell you on things you don’t need. Maybe they package service in with what you’re looking for that really don’t have a benefit for you. Remember, you’re trying to get hyper focused and this can be a great way to start creating ideas to do just that.
Research: Step 3
Research is done. Well at least the initial phase of it. Time to make some decisions based on your findings! Look at your Likes and Dislikes, can you do better than your competition on any of these things? Yes you can. Make your selection and get started building on it.
There is no business that does everything perfect. Where your business should excel is in the faults of others. Heck, you can even excel in the strengths of others, if you’re truly better at it than them. The point of all this is that without doing research you cannot find your niche. Take the time to do the research, it’s the only place to really start.
For the next step in your online business journey check out 7 Steps for Online Success for Your Brand.