A niche is a subset of the business population (or market). It can be as broad as the education market, or as small as trade school instructors. For instance, if you are an interactive designer, you could limit your market from those who need interactive design to businesses in education or trade school instructors who need interactive design. The only catch is that the market has to be sizeable enough to provide sustainable business.
Why a niche market can be such an assetThe advantage of working in a niche market is that it focuses your marketing efforts. It’s easier to differentiate yourself from generalists. And there is less competition than with a larger market.
What are the downsides?However there are some potential drawbacks. For instance, your niche market may not have an interest in your services. Following, the market may not even understand the services you offer. So, it will take considerable effort just to educate your niche market to make it viable. And as I’ve said before, the market may not be able to financially support your services. But with a little research, experimentation, and patience you can discover a workable niche.
How do you find your niche?So, how do you even begin? That’s the question I’m always asking myself. But here are four approaches that I find helpful in identifying a potential niche market.
Consider your skill set. If you are a graphic design generalist, identify those skills in which you excel or you prefer doing. Consider marketing yourself by those skills exclusively. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon your other services. It just means that you highlight one or two over the rest so that you attract a market that really values them. But you have to demonstrate clearly that you do this well.
Look at your history. You may notice that all your previous client’s and their industries have something in common. And look to see if a particular pattern emerges in your work. Perhaps there’s a pattern or style that a certain market segment would appreciate.
Examine your interests. Take note of the type of work you enjoy, the clients you like to work with, and the industries you appreciate. On the other side, consider what you don’t like.
Research a potential market. Assess whether a niche market can sustain your business. Check economic data for the amount it spends on design. Look at what they produce. If it seems like the market will not value your services, adjust your niche focus. On the other hand, if it looks promising, join one of their trade organizations or online forums, and read their publications to understand them more intimately.
ConclusionWorking within a niche can be a rewarding endeavor. But remember, the market you choose is only as good as its ability to sustain your business.
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