You can't be everything to everyone... Niche Marketing

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Original Post

HautTotes says

You can’t be everything to everyone, nor can you sell everything to everyone… Why I think cutting down on potential customers can increase your sales.

Though the desire to have “something for everyone” in your shop may be strong, the truth is that while niche marketing may in fact decrease your pool of potential customers, if done well it can INCREASE your sales! The key is to find (if you are a supply seller) or create a product that your accessible customers want but is unavailable or under-available from other shops.

Niche shops have the potential to be very profitable despite their small size. Most large sellers will ignore small demands leaving you with the monopoly on that product. A smaller customer base and much smaller competition base can make a lot of $ense!

Now, I’m not a marketing professional, and with only 6 months under my belt am a bit of a newbie. I have however been moderately successful here on Etsy. This morning, almost 6 months to the day from my first sale I had my 200th.

There are about 40,000 bags on Etsy tagged with “Tote” a mere 75 of those are mine. That makes me 0.001875 percent of the Etsy tote bag market. My totes average $37 and I don’t advertise. Yet I average a sale a day. How? I have a great niche! Many of the other 39,925 totes are less expensive, fancier, more complicated even prettier. What most of them also are is far more mainstream.

Not into totes? Lets take a hypothetical newbie soap maker. This soap maker when asked, “Who are you marketing to?” may answer “Anyone who is dirty.” Your fellow soapers (competition) are all looking for those same dirty people! Now what if this soap maker decided that instead of looking for ALL dirty people, they were going to spend their energy just looking for dirty babies, or dirty pets or dirty vegans… They’d have far fewer customers, but also far fewer competitors.

An added advantage is the better idea you have of who you are marketing to, the easier it will be to maximize your promotional energy and your advertising dollars (if you spend them). Developing new product ideas is also easier because you are working with a good knowledge of your target customer’s likes and dislikes.

Niche customers tend to be very loyal as well, as you are the one who has provided them with their desired item when others ignored their needs.

*** Some tips on finding your niche. ***
Etsy is (I believe) the worlds largest group of exceedingly talented artisans, no matter how talented you are; you can’t compete with them all…

Ask yourself the following questions. Answer honestly!
What do I enjoy making? What do I make REALLY well? What types of things do my current customers have in common? How do I want set myself apart from the competition? What can I offer that is better and more compelling than what my competition offers? Can I tailor my product to specific customers better?

Two last notes, don’t be afraid to venture out of your niche (especially if it isn’t working for you) and a niche can be too small. I wouldn’t invest too much energy in starting up a shop specializing in costumes for pet flies. :)

Posted at 5:10pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

Responses

HautTotes says

I am certainly not the first nor the last to benefit from these principals. I hope that if you managed to make it through that mammoth post we can use it as a springboard for discussion.

In business and marketing it is common wisdom that if you’ve got a great thing going keep your methods secret, but I’d love for people to share what has and especially was hasn’t worked for them.

If we all hone our product there are more than enough customers to go around!

Posted at 5:11pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

I like it!

I started with pretty cards and funny cards and quickly found my niche by sales :)

Posted at 5:12pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

wow, haut, what a great post! I've spent a lot of time thinking about that... I agree with you, and am very glad you wrote this post. I don't have any advice to offer at the moment, but I know I definitely have some work to do on my own shop!

Posted at 5:15pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

catlover1 says

Very well said Haut!

I ask myself those very same questions of my items and feel I've found my niche, which is all my stuff is made with vintage elements from the 50's and 60's. I've also developed a few etsians that follow my Sassy Sayings magnets; some who actually want me to let them know when I've listed new ones! :-)

Posted at 5:16pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

And she is right about niche loyalty. Ihagfve a lot of repeat customers. If they find you and they like what you have, they will often come back. So iut's important to make it easier for them to find you.

Posted at 5:16pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

(along with having repeat customers, I ahve crap typing. sorry)

Posted at 5:17pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

simpson says

I draw and color pictures. On Etsy, the market is women so I add the pictures that women prefer out of my public collections.

I give three options for different buyer types; originals (collectors), prints (home decorators), and PDFs (cost & eco-minded).

Posted at 5:17pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

You can't get much more niche than I am

Posted at 5:18pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT

Luster says

I totally agree. I have like 3 specific markets I am targeting with the new lines I am developing for debut when I return post baby....

Posted at 5:19pm Mar 20, 2009 EDT