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posted: 2/14/2017 1:00 AM

Considerations for peddling a niche product

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While no product or service can be a good fit for everyone, niche products have an even narrower market than most.


If your business is focused on meeting a specialized need in a specialized market (for example, vegan spa products), the strategies and tactics others use to market its products and services may or may not be effective for you.


Marketing a niche product starts with creating a marketing plan that's in step with your business plan.


According to Score mentor Tom Burgum, "Begin with rigorous market research to determine and prove you are targeting the right consumer audience."


Seek out and find answers to these questions:


• Is the product new to the world, or are others like it already available for sale?


• How can you differentiate your product from those that are similar?


• How large is the niche, is it growing, and at what pace?


• Can you build a moat around your product or service to protect against your competition?


• What triggers the purchase decision, shopping method, and ultimate buying process of your consumer?


When you're targeting a niche market, it's essential to have a detailed profile of the consumer to whom you're selling.


For starters, ask yourself these questions about the consumers in your niche market:


• What are their needs?


• What are their expectations in terms of product functionality, fashion, quality, price, speed of delivery, etc.?


• Where can you find your consumers both virtually and physically?


• How do they shop for products and services like yours, and what ultimately drives their purchase?


Answering these and other questions will help you determine the best approaches to most effectively attract the attention of potential consumers.


Some possibilities might include:


• Networking at events and industry conferences or shows that attract your target market.


• Effective website that draws in your targeted audience and is easy to navigate and make their purchase.


• Targeted social media advertising. Online social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. offer ways to present ads to consumers who are in specific geographic areas, who fit certain demographic criteria, and who have specific interests.


• Editorials in industry, trade and wide variety of consumer read magazines.


• Radio spots or streaming videos that draw an audience from your targeted market.


• Guest posts on well-respected blogs that consumers in your target market might follow.


Niche product marketing can be very cost-effective because you don't waste time and money on consumers who have no interest or need for your product in the process of reaching those that do.


"Test market your product. Identify and define your unique selling proposition. Make sure your product or service unique selling proposition is validated and confirms your assumptions and agrees with your marketing assessment," advises Burgum.


"Although you can never be 100 percent certain about your conclusions, don't be a victim of paralysis by analysis. Learn what you need to understand in order to minimize risks and then move forward!"


If you need guidance in marketing a niche product, consider reaching out to your local SCORE chapter to speak with a mentor who can provide ideas, resource tools, experienced advice, and feedback.


• Fox Valley SCORE provides free confidential mentoring to clients in 17 locations throughout DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties. If you need help with existing business challenges, or are thinking about starting a new business, visit our website and click the red "Book Now" button. You can also click on "Workshops & Events" to register for one of the many free workshops throughout the year. The website is: http://foxvalley.score.org/