The Future of Marketing is in the Niches
It is safe to conclude that most small businesses have constrained marketing budgets. As such, it behooves business owners to spend money where they can most effectively track the ROI and see a reasonable return on their investment. More and more, that means moving money that was once reserved for traditional forms of advertising to the web.
The Internet offers several marketing benefits to small business. First, it is possible to improve the targeting of a message so that it reaches only the audience the business wants to reach. Second, tools like email, blogs and social media can help increase the relevance of the message so that it resonates with that audience. Third, due to the ability to track where and how marketing dollars are spent, Internet marketing can help trim the fat on wasteful expenditures.
I believe the future of marketing is in the niches -- going deep, not wide -- and the Internet is the perfect vehicle to help businesses achieve that goal.
The Wailing Wall Story
Long-time friend and Internet marketing mentor, Dr. Ralph Wilson, a man I refer to as the "godfather of Internet marketing," likens niche marketing to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
"Standing at the base of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and looking up, the immense stone blocks laid one upon another seem to reach to sky. But when you look more closely at the Wall, you see the crevices between the massive blocks," says Dr. Wilson.
He recommends that small businesses view the Internet in a similar manner and concentrate on penetrating partially-filled or unfilled niches rather than trying to scale the entire wall. "If your company doesn't have the mammoth clout of a Fortune 500 corporation, then you must find a niche between the immense players and adapt yourself to thrive there," suggests Dr. Wilson.
Single Serve Coffee Makers
My favorite example to illustrate just how definable a niche can be is a blog published by Jay Brewer that deals with one topic, single serve coffee makers. Brewer (which is not a bad name to have if you're talking about coffee makers) started the blog in 2004 and actively maintains it to this day. That's over six years of blogging about nothing but single serve coffee makers and the accompanying coffee culture.
Brewer makes money by advertising and selling, you guessed it, single serve coffee makers and similar products. Not only that, he took what was a hobby and turned it into a business by finding other penetrable niches and exploiting them with blogs, then monetizing that content with advertising.
Not only has Brewer's commitment to niche marketing proven beneficial from a revenue standpoint, but he has garnered much attention from search engines as well. Google the phrase, "single serve coffee makers," and his site is the number one return. It's been that way for years, too.
Niche Marketing Articles at Practical Ecommerce
Niche marketing is a topic we have covered extensively at Practical Ecommerce. Here are a handful of articles that deal with it from various perspectives:
How To Set Up Shop on Niche Online Marketplaces - This recently published article provides instruction on how to set up shop on one of the dozens of online niche marketplaces like Etsy, Wigix, Amazon Marketplace and others.
Stay with Your Niche(s)? - Practical Ecommerce blogger Dale Traxler describes his company's experience with niche marketing.
Itching to Expand Your Product Niche? - This article discusses the benefits of niche marketing and the need to be distinctive in the marketplace.
The Case for Launching Sub-Niche Websites - One strategy merchants can use to grow ecommerce revenue is to spin-off a subset of their product line onto its own website.
(We have many more articles on the subject of niche marketing. To read more, search our website.)
The main lesson here is, none of us have money to waste. The Internet can help small businesses find and exploit marketable niches cost-effectively. Go for the niches!