Niche Markets: Not Just About Products and Features


When I talk about niche marketing and building a niche I often refer to the products or the feature lists. For instance, local ecommerce hosting would approach the niche by maintaining working relationships with area vendors, media, and the like and that becomes an added feature; by hosting from us and we will give you discounts for advertising with the local papers and TV stations, etc. But niche marketing can also be based on audience.

In this form of niche creation, it’s not your product that is the niche, but how you display it and how you support it. As an example look at Laughing Squid.

Laughing Squid is a Web Host in the normal sense, they offer hosting space, but they offer it in support of the local art community. Their niche service is the promotion of art and culture and the web hosting aspect is but one way they achieve this. It is a very focused market, Laughing Squid probably won’t become a Fortune 500 company, but they have achieved a level of success and not only that but the niche is something that they enjoy.

Therefore, when thinking of niche markets, also think on target audiences. In fact, I would dare to say think of a niche target audience first then find the services that will help them out.

You might say, well I already look at my audience for my niche market so technically I have already done this. You might have but there are a few differences in approach. Niches developed on services start with features then seek an audience. For instance, blog hosting; a web host says they host only blogs then they look at the demographic (normally the marketing department does this when determining who they should place ads with, etc). An audience centric niche starts with the audience, I want to host only the steampunk community, now what features do I offer for that end?

The steps involved are not too much different though it requires far more community participation and a passion for that niche.

Going back to the steampunk example, let’s develop a steampunk hosting service as a practical application. Our web hosting service will be called Steam Powered Hosting. To coincide with future marketing, we will have a “Are You Steam Powered?” badge for web sites who host through us that is an affiliate partnership, i.e. community sites who place it on their site will get a commission for any finalized sales they send our way. The web site will have a professional artist (from the community!) make the themes for it and there will be contests for steampunk theme creations (for wordpress, joomla, or just simple desktop themes).

When targeting an audience its always community, community, community. Next step is to look through all the main steampunk web sites and see what they all need. After looking through I identified that its pretty basic hosting, blogs, small (but detailed) shopping carts, decent hosting packages. The big thing I noticed is the lack of any form of SEO or marketing, in general the bulk of steampunk sites have low traffic. So I we will use basic hosting, but have artists who will work on custom artwork for our customers, and help our customers with branding, SEO, and other forms of marketing. Next thing I would do is get ALL of my employees into the community and discussing steampunk NOT hosting. They would write fan-fiction, develop tutorials on building steam engines, blimps, how to create models and landscapes, talk about the best sites they have seen, etc. When working with a niche community everyone in your company should be passionate about it.

Once established I would offer free hosting to the big players such as Brass Goggles. Only stipulation would be that they have the badge at the bottom (and I would make sure the badge was so cool looking that people wouldn’t want to say no).

With that taken care of, offer community support for your customers. Not just introductions, but if they have a question on how to properly modify a a 1936 Rolls Royce Phantom to be more steampunkish (first complement them on their excellent car choice) then either help them brainstorm or point them in the direction of an expert who can help. Heck the expert might be another customer of yours. Offering a support forum which would handle hosting, but would also include tutorials on a variety of topics. You employees have been writing for other forums and doing community outreach, why not republish or link what they already wrote onto your own forum?

All of this done, you are well on your way to developing a stable, profitable, and enjoyable hosting experience, for your customers and yourself.

This example can be applied in just about any niche too, so if you are looking at changing your niche or you are just starting and want to build a niche, don’t just look at a feature niche market, look at the audience niches as well.

Categories : Marketing


  1. […] Niche Markets: Not Just About Products and Features (Web Host Blog) […]

  2. […] of the community should be a piece of cake. For more information on this I have a quick example at Niche Markets: Not Just About Products and Features that discusses an example of both a real (Laughing Squid) and a fictional web host built around a […]

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