Choosing a niche isn’t just something new entrepreneurs worry about. If your company has been operating—and even thriving—for a while, niching down can help you pinpoint the right audience and drive more revenue to your business.
You probably already know that a niche is an area of expertise that your business focuses on. A grocery store, for example, might sell food and drink—but a natural grocer has chosen the niche of healthy, organic, and/or fair-trade items. That natural grocer decides to limit the types of things it sells, preferring to cater to a particular audience.
But, you might wonder, isn’t it better to keep your options open? Stay broader in the types of items or services you offer, and you’ll potentially appeal to a broader audience. You’ll have more opportunities to make a sale.
While niching down isn’t always the correct answer for every business, the fact remains: when you try to appeal to everyone, you risk appealing to no one.
Choosing a niche helps your business become more intentional with everything it does. When you know precisely who you’re marketing to, it affects every aspect of your business—including your bottom line. Benefits of choosing a niche include:
- Greater ROI. You can tailor your marketing and product development directly to your target audience.
- Less competition. For instance, there might be countless grocery stores, but there aren’t nearly as many natural grocers to compete with.
- Increased expertise and authority. When you specialize in a narrow field, it’s much easier to become a leader and a respected authority in your space.
How to Choose a Profitable Niche for Your Business
Of course, a crucial element of niching down is knowing which niche to choose. Below, we’ll cover five steps to select a profitable niche and maximize both revenue and success for your organization.
Step #1: Analyze Your Business
First, take a step back and look at your company with an outsider’s eye. What are you really, really good at? Or, what are you interested in as a business owner?
If you already sell a product or a service, ask yourself what you like about what you sell. What are your favourite types of clients? What kinds of patterns are already naturally emerging? For example:
- A footwear retailer might gravitate towards helping runners, and other athletes find the right fit.
- An accounting firm might seem to do best with small business clients.
- A marketing agency might find itself onboarding mostly e-commerce brands.
Whatever your particular interest or specific talent, try to put it into a sentence or two. Whether it comes from your personal passion or what you see as your team’s natural strengths, identifying your business’s niche should always start with finding an organic direction for specialization.
One important caveat: this analysis needs to come from the top down and be led by the company’s vision. If you don’t keep your overall purpose in mind when niching down, you could find yourself straying from your original mission.
Step #2: Ensure That There’s a Market for Your Niche
Next, determine whether there’s a demand for your specialty.
If you’re an established business, you may already have a good idea—especially if, during Step #1 above, you identified a pattern of what type of client you already find yourself gravitating towards. If you’re having success catering to this type of customer, it’s probably a safe bet that that niche is likely to be profitable for you.
But even so, it’s wise to get an idea of how profitable that specialization could be. That’s where market research comes in. By using methods like surveying your potential target audience, gathering demographic data, and researching current industry trends, market research can help you determine:
- What demographics might be interested in your product or service
- Where your customers are located
- What price customers would be willing to pay for your product or service
- How much demand there is for your product or service
- Market saturation (how many similar products or services are already available to consumers)
Conducting market research can not only give you an idea of how much demand and potential revenue there is in your niche idea, but it can also help you determine how to make your business stand out from the competition.
Step #3: Competitor Research and Analysis
Competitive analysis is a helpful tool in creating a well-performing business strategy that takes market trends, open opportunities, and your major competitors’ performance into account.
Competitor research involves figuring out who your competitors are in the first place. When you niche down, your direct competitors may become your indirect competitors—and therefore not businesses you need to worry about conducting a competitive analysis on.
For instance, an electronics manufacturer may decide to specialize in printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. So systems assembly manufacturers, while still creating products in the same broad category, are no longer direct competitors.
Once you’ve determined who your direct competitors are, analyze their business for:
- The products or services they offer
- Their marketing tactics
- Their pricing
- What kinds of technology they use
- Their social media presence and engagement
Analyzing your potential direct competitors can give you an idea of what it would be like to exist in that niche—and even an idea or two of how you might be able to differentiate yourself. Are there any gaps in the existing market that you can fill?
Step #4: Narrow It Down Even Further
After you’ve done your research, figure out if you need to niche down even more.
Choose a specific type of customer or client that would be your dream to work with. What demographic detail, location, need, or interest sets them apart?
Let’s consider a small physical therapy clinic whose CEO wants to choose a profitable niche. She’s analyzed her organization’s strengths and weaknesses, so she knows that they already tend to do well with patients recovering from severe injury and need to regain basic mobility.
Of course, this niche could be narrow enough for her purposes. But why not get extra specific and cater to a targeted demographic?
After carefully analyzing a past client list, she notices a common pattern: they tend to be recent stroke victims. This niche—helping stroke victims recover mobility and independence—fits with the physical therapy clinic’s vision and mission, and it seems to be a good fit for her team, so she settles on it.
But how do you know when you’ve niched down too much? It is possible to narrow yourself so far down that you don’t have a big enough customer base to support you, after all.
The key to niching down is finding a lane, not a dead end.
Make sure that when you niche down, there’s enough of a demand for your specific niche to support your business. Choose a direction that doesn’t back you into a corner.
For instance, our physical therapy clinic CEO might have chosen to cater to men in their forties with arm injuries instead. That’s extremely specific. But how many clients fitting that exact category can she expect to bring in?
On the other hand, while stroke victims are a specific category, they’re (unfortunately) plentiful—and there’s still plenty of room to innovate and expand in the world of rehabilitation after major medical incapacitation.
Step #5: Experiment, Analyze Results, and Repeat
Finally, put your idea into practice.
Business is all about trial and error, after all. There’s no amount of research, analysis, or planning that can guarantee success in any business endeavour. Instead, get as prepared as you can—and then test your ideas in the market to see if they work.
Before investing all of your resources into pivoting your organization into that niche, conduct an experiment to see if there’s a market for your product or service. Build a landing page or run a limited-time promotion to your target customers.
Choosing a profitable niche isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process. Keep tabs on what’s working and what isn’t—and as results come in, don’t be afraid to tweak your strategy or tactics to get the results you want.