Finding your niche is a lot like figuring out what favourite joke you like to say to get the crowd l-laughing at a dinner party. It’s your special thing that makes you stand out. Related to your business, it’s the thing that differentiates you against your competitors and helps you build a brand to prove you’re the best at what you do. It’s closely tied to your personal brand, as well. In this article, we’re going to show you why you need a niche, as well as how to find it in a few simple steps.
Already know what you’re looking for? Jump right to that section here:
- Benefits of finding a niche
- Expert tips for how to find your niche
- Examples of businesses who used their niche for growth
- How to add a second niche to your business
Stand out from the crowd
The digital world is a crowded one. With a niche, it’s much easier to differentiate against a sea of competitors. People who work in niches are also much more memorable, because you’re doing something specific and different than anyone else. Imagine someone told you they work in “sports.” You’d have a very vague understanding of what this means and no idea if you’re interested, even if you were a high calibre athlete who loves learning all things sports. But if this person said they’re a high-performance basketball coach for university teams, you’d have their attention. Especially if you’re someone who’s looking to play basketball for a university team someday. That’s how niches help you stand out and be remembered.
Understand your core audience
If you can find your niche, you can narrow down the audience for your products and services and make your marketing efforts more targeted. Customers will know exactly what they’re getting from your business from their very first interaction, which can help you boost customer loyalty and even build a community around your brand. To do market segmentation and targeting well, you’ll either need extensive experience in the niche or a lot of time investment into market research. But we’ll dive into this tip a bit more later.
Boost your revenue
Settle into a small gap in the market and exploit it. If you’re the only one doing what you’re doing, you’ll have more opportunities to make new products that cater to your customer base. It’s also important to realize that starting your business in a niche market doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever. It’s really common for niche businesses to cater to a wider audience as they evolve and expand.
Focus your energy
When you’re starting a business for the first time, there’s a big risk of spreading yourself too thin. You only have so many hours in the day, so honing in your efforts into one area lets you make more progress within the time and space you have available. Not only does this lift some pressure off your role as an entrepreneur, but it also makes it easier for your customers to know who you are and how you can help them.
Research your competitors
Competitive research, also known as competitive analysis, is the process of finding other companies in your industry who offer the same or similar products and services as you and looking at exactly what they’re doing. That includes who their target audience is, what their unique selling points (USPs) are, and how they position each unique feature to their target audience (as fine tuning your messaging can help you showcase your niche).
The goal of competitive research is not to get caught up in comparisons between yourself and other businesses.
You shouldn’t spend all day ensuring you’re doing the exact same thing (or a better variation of it) than what they’ve got on their website and reviews page. Instead, your goal should be on learning how the market is filling up, where people are going, and what ways of communication they prefer. Through this research, you might notice an area where all competitors are saying the exact same thing.
This could be your opportunity to try a niche that’s catered to a different audience or communicated in a different way than what the others are trying. Or, you might find that all competitors have so far covered most areas of an offering except one or two. For example, existing companies might service a ton of programming languages, but just not the one that you have experience in. So servicing that currently unserviced language would be your niche and differentiator.
Here’s four questions to think about when doing competitor research for your niche:
- Who else is offering what you’re offering? Do a quick brainstorm, jot down competitors off the top of your head, and then do more thorough research. Use search engines, explore your social media feeds, and talk to industry peers. Identify what service is offered, at what price point, and what features they include in each offering.
- What are they doing really well? Maybe your competitors have great marketing copy or they use a lot of cool influencers to publicize their products. Also look at the regions they work in, how big or powerful the company is, and what their positive customer reviews say.
- What about them might turn off some consumers? No business is for everyone. There will inevitably be some people who are not served by your competitors. This is where you start to get an idea of what gaps exist in the market and where you could find a niche.
- How does their audience compare to your target audience? Zero in on their target audience. You won’t have access to their analytics platforms, of course, but you should be able to make educated guesses based on their marketing. For instance, what kind of people are in the photos of their ads and on their website? What’s their brand voice like? Where are they advertising?
Find your audience
Whether you’re setting up a new business or looking to do more with your current business, you probably have a rough idea of who your audience might be. To find your niche, you’ll need to take concrete steps to better understand how your target audience thinks, engages with your brand, and retains information related to your offerings. It’s time to drill down into exactly who you want to target.
Some details about your audience include:
- Their age
- Their location
- Where they prefer to shop
- How they prefer to receive information
- How frequently they buy your product
- Who they talk to
- The amount of money they could afford to spend
If you have social media channels set up for your business or a website that gets good traffic, you can use your analytics data to tell you who’s engaging with your current content. You can do the same for web traffic with Google Analytics as well (and it’s free!)
Here’s 3 questions to help you find your niche’s target audience:
- Out of everyone you’ve reached so far, who was your most valuable customer? When we talk about your most valuable customer (MVC), we mean the customers who are most profitable for your business. These are the people who are buying from you more frequently or buying higher value products, such as your premium course.
- What has been the most successful marketing strategy for you so far? If you’ve been running your business for a while, take a look at where you had the highest return on investment (ROI) for marketing spend. Are you getting more customers from Instagram advertisements? With email marketing? Wherever that channel is, it will help you figure out where to invest more money to get more attention from future potential customers.
- What demographics could you let go of in order to focus on what you do best? With every business, there is going to be some “white noise” around your target audience – these are people who don’t fall within your core audience, but they’re still buying from you. A trick is to let go of focus on those customers and maintain effort towards the group that you give the most value to, who is easy enough to reach, and who is willing to pay more for your offering.
Ask your customers
Your customers know what they want from you, so if you already have a group of people using your products or services, now is the time to talk to them! Ask your customers what features they like most, which new features they’d like to see and where your current offering can improve. Then listen and learn from their feedback.
Here are 3 methods you can use to get better feedback from customers:
Launch customer surveys
Customer surveys are a really useful method for getting to know your customers and helping you find your niche. This form of customer research is best if you already have a large audience of 1000+ customers, though you can also learn some valuable insights from just 100 customer responses.
The more people you can convince to respond, the better your data will be. Multiple choice surveys allow you to analyze your data in a straightforward way that’s super simple to understand and it’s the easiest way for customers to give you that data. But be careful that you’re not unintentionally biasing your answers by limiting the response options.
The easiest way to conduct a customer survey is to use a tool like Typeform or SurveyMonkey. Then, distribute the survey via email, social media, community pages, or your company’s owned content platforms (eg. blogs). To encourage more responses, incentivize your customers with a small prize like a gift card or a free coaching session.
Conduct customer interviews
Customer interviews are also really helpful if you tend to work with people one-on-one or in small groups. The goal with customer interviews is to get more detailed information from your clients than you get with a survey.
You can hold short interview sessions with customers at the beginning or end of your service, sending it via email or through your coaching platform. Your aim is to gain a deeper understanding of who they are, their lifestyles, their biggest challenges and what they need from you, as well as how their experience has been with you so far. Be open to criticism and feedback in this process. It can sting, but it’s always useful to know what your customers really think.
Host a workshop
Free events are probably the most fun form of customer research. They’re not as precise as other data gathering strategies, but they give you a chance to interact with your customers face-to-face. Because of this in-person approach, you can build stronger “gut feelings” and build relationships with your ideal customer type.
Choose a topic that’s relevant to your target audience, based on your competitive research . Be sure to promote your event on your main marketing channels as well. To increase the value of the workshop for your business, require attendees to input their email address when they register – this helps you build an email marketing database.
After people have attended the workshop, send them a survey or questionnaire to fill in so you can learn more about them and get more customer data. You can also send them a follow-up email to convert them into paying customers!
Other formats for free events include:
- In-person networking events
- Online educational workshop
- Meet and greet events
- Group Q&A sessions
- Roundtable discussion
Identify your unique strengths
To find your niche, you need to know what you do differently compared to other entrepreneurs. If you can identify your unique strengths, you can narrow down what you’re going to offer your customers that the market is currently missing out on.
Here’s a few tips to think about your strengths:
Brainstorm your strengths
Take a few minutes and think about what you know you can do really well. Maybe you have expert knowledge in a specific area, or you can do something faster than anyone else you know. This is not the time to be humble. But if you’re really pressed for ideas, ask trusted friends and family for strengths that they see in you. This brainstormed list is going to be important, as you can use it now to determine your niche. But you can also rely on it later when you’re thinking about expanding your business, improving your business’ operations, or even understanding your own skills gaps to improve.
Be a specialist not a generalist
It’s important to remember that you can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be the perfect solution for a specific set of people at a specific point in their lives. Realistically, you also won’t have every skill available to provide an offering to the whole world. You’ll need to hone in on this and be realistic about what you can do, and for who.
If you know the broad area that you want to work in and the type of person you want to build an offering around, you can start narrowing that broad category down into a niche. Instead of general marketing, for example, your niche could be Instagram ads for small businesses.
Being a specialist also makes it much simpler for you to market your offering, as you can have one clear message that you use across all your marketing channels. This saves you time, effort, and money.
Think about what you enjoy
When it comes to finding your niche, take some time to reflect on what you’re passionate about.
- What do you enjoy doing the most?
- What types of customers do you connect with the best?
- What are your core values?
If you can identify what you enjoy doing and pair it with what you do well, you’ll land yourself in a niche pretty quickly. Then you can direct your efforts and attention towards doing more of that!
Alacrity Canada helps Canadian entrepreneurs enter the digital age
Alacrity Canada has a clearly defined focus on offering mentorship resources to entrepreneurs.
They took their niche to another level by offering digital skills workshops to younger students that want to be successful in the new age of working. Since launching in 2020, they’ve already helped more than 8,000 students earn digital marketing skills training – meaning that all of those students can now someday become a digital entrepreneur themselves!
Jason Yee offers hockey coaching on Youtube
Jason Yee spent much of his career as a professional hockey player and coach, and recently started thinking of new ways to help give more people access to coaching lessons. His niche is already super defined as he’s a coach in the ice hockey space. And from his experience in the industry, he knew that athletes enjoyed watching videos on new techniques. So he used this information to offer ice hockey coaching videos on Youtube, which has already earned him over 5,000 subscribers! From this initial success, he’s been able to launch several monetized online courses.
Ellie Talks Money gives entrepreneurs business funding and marketing advice
Ellie Diop’s story is a great example of how you can leverage strengths from one part of your life to leverage growth in another. After being laid off from a high-up sales career, she re-positioned her knowledge to help entrepreneurs manage their budgets, apply for business funding, and grow their business sustainably. While her niche of consulting for entrepreneurs is a bit more broad, she has a unique story to her business and really well targeted messaging that helps her effectively cater to her audience.
If you’ve found success with your first niche, you might be thinking about adding a second one. Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you reach this growth stage:
Consider your capacity
You need to be realistic about how much time, money, and energy you have available to research, build, and promote around a new niche. Think of some of these questions:
- Do you have expertise in this niche?
- Do you have the right human resources in place?
- What new or additional resources will you need to make it a success?
See how your niches can integrate
It’s a good idea to think about how your second niche can integrate or align with your existing niche. While you will probably need to create separate resources, content and marketing materials, seeing how your niches can work together can open up opportunities for collaboration and adapting or repurposing existing content.
Make it work for your existing customers
If you’ve spent years catering to a certain audience already, you might alternatively consider expanding your niche rather than changing it completely. This avoids isolating your existing audience. That might mean doing questionnaires, surveys, focus groups and extra research to know if there’s any changes to interests and behaviors in your existing niche.
Ready to find your niche and kickstart your business?
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to level up your current business, it can be hard to know how to find your niche and which niche is right for you. Competitive research, audience analysis and talking to customers are all strategies that can help.
When in doubt, focus on your core strengths and what you do best and use this to find your niche. You can also refer back to any examples of Thinkific customers or peruse our creator stories for examples of creators who have successfully launched online courses in a niche to draw inspiration!
This blog on how to find your niche was originally published in January 2021 and was most recently updated in May 2023.