How to choose and test new niches?
Choosing the right niche has always been the question of all questions. Online earnings sound very attractive in these days, especially if you consider that options are almost endless compared to the paper money. Still, such wide range of possibilities could mean a lot of trouble too. If you look around, you can see that almost every occurrence has the other side of the coin. Before starting your business, you will have to deal with various kinds of questions. It may be tricky, but the sooner you start dealing with possible issues, the more chances you have to be successful and satisfied with your job. The most important thing is definitely to find the niche that won’t just bring you good earnings but also keep your into it for a very long time.
Tips you should consider when choosing the right niche:
When looking for the right niche, appraise your comfortable areas, follow your passion but consider your skills as well.
Well, this probably sounds too obvious. Still, it is the starting point for everyone who wants to find the niche that perfectly meets personal desires, skills, an area of interest, etc. A nice amount of earnings is always a good stimulus. Still, if you don’t have much interest and passion in the job you do, you will probably quit after some time, despite the stable financial situation.
On the other side, your primary interest most likely won’t be the most cost-effective choice. So, the best solution would probably be to find something that has a perfect balance between the areas of interest and profitability. A good start would be to create a list that consists your biggest interests and passions. Even this could be tricky. Most likely, you probably won’t be able to even count, for example, your 10 favorites.
Here are few tips to determine your area of interest in the best possible way:
- First of all, start with some most basic things. For example, consider all the things you like to do when you’re not working. Your free time determines your passions and desires in the best way.
- Also, consider all those activities that you like to practice with your friends.
- Put on the list organizations you belong, or even your subscription to magazines, websites.
- The next step would be to mark off those areas in which you have decent skills or some experience. A combination of skills and passion is something that you should be looking for.
- After doing this, you can consider that the most basic list of potential niches has been created.
Love is great, but does it make money?
Love and passion are definitely important things when choosing your niche, but these things usually don’t mean much without the thing called profitability. In other words, loving what you do is a necessary but not sufficient condition. We are all starting the job to make some money. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a hobby.
So, what’s the catch? Well, the thing is to scale down potential niches to those that are profitable. You’re probably wondering how to find out these things if you are someone who isn’t a master of the economy or something similar. Fortunately, this digital age, in which we are living, brings a lot of benefits. Some of them are two super-useful tools designed by Google. Those are Google Trends and Google AdWords.
Just enter few words related to your niche desires, and you will get numbers about search volume, competition, and suggested bid. The first one shows how much market is there. For beginners, good advice would be to stick somewhere in the middle, between 1 and 10 thousand searches per month. Anything less than 1K means that there’s simply not enough market. On the other side, too many searches per month for most of us means a “mission impossible,” to get some decent rank position in search.
When it comes to competition, these tools will show you how much the specific word or phrase is competitive. Despite the fact that non-organic search is also included, you should get an idea about some general competition levels. Finally, there is a suggested bid, which is a pretty straightforward thing. The higher bids for entered word or phrase are, the more commercial potential is there.
Learn from other’s experience
Without any underestimation, it is hard to believe that your idea could be something completely new or revolutionary in today’s world. Most likely, someone has already tried with the niche that is same or very close to one of yours. This is a good thing. You will get the chance to find out what are the experiences of other people in specific areas of business. Are there some potential troubles? Is there some good advice? Does it make sense to even start with some specific project? In most cases, you will probably find answers to most of the questions that bother you. Search the Quora and visit every forum related to your niche, it could be of enormous help.
Be more specific
Despite the fact that your basic list of potential niches is already formed, it is time to go for something more specific. General subjects are great, but also the most competitive. A good way to filter your list would be to make your base area of interest a little bit narrower.
The more sources you consult, the bigger chances are for you to find a perfect “sub-niche.” Once again, there are numerous forums, as well as various Facebook groups, other social media, etc. Also, go to subreddits. These are such useful tools, and there are tons of them so that you could combine different results. The principle of work is so simple. Start with some main keyword and check the results. You will find plenty of sub-topics that could be pretty useful. The more you go into something specific, the bigger chance for the uniqueness of your niches is.
How about other race participants?
While researching your keywords, keep in mind the thing called competition. Once again, worthy guys on computers made our life easier with such simple but highly effective tools. You can go for some of the numerous keyword tools, but the most basic work can be done with any browser. For example, type your keyword on Google and go for results. You will see which websites are positioned best. In most cases, there are three possible scenarios.
If your keyword is about some general thing, you will probably find tons of content about it. Just look at page 1, and you should find numerous highly-reputable websites. Usually, this means too much jam for someone not-so-experienced. The best advice would be to go for some other niche. Still, if you are a skilled computer guy that knows a lot of “tricks” for better positioning, it could be worth of trying. In this case, hi-quality content is a must.
On the opposite, there is a chance to find no sites ranking for your specific keywords. This is definitely a double-edged sword. This could mean a lot of free space and sound like an excellent, competition-free opportunity, but could also mean that your keyword is too much specific. The latter would probably mean no market at all. In other words, stay away from such niches if you don’t have experience with similar situations.
Just like in other areas of life, the golden mean is usually the best choice. There is some site ranking for your keyword, but the results are not so impressive. Consider that there is some market, but that competition is not very tough. Once again, it will all depend on the quality. In these situations, good quality is usually a deciding factor for success. A low-quality rival has always been the best rival you could imagine.
Should you start your project now?
After dealing with all those issues, we can say that a good niche has been chosen. After gathering and analyzing all of the relevant information, it is time to start with your project. The most important advice would be – do not hesitate. Even if you’re not feeling ready to begin, waiting for the better moment can only make the things worse. Best songs usually have a bridge between verse and chorus. In other words, there is always a way to test your niche before putting all of your strengths on some serious project. The great way to check how your idea will work is to make so-called landing pages. Get some tool like Leadpages or ClickFunnels and check the interest in your niche. Still, keep in mind that a lot of traffic doesn’t necessarily mean a great potential. Check conversations and find out the volume of real, organic traffic.
Another good way to check is your project worth of trying is to survey your target market. Promote your ideas in any place where you can find some relation to your niche. The number of possibilities is huge. You can go for some guest blog posts, or promote it on social media, forums etc. Finally, there is a tool called Google survey. This is also a great way to promote your idea. If you pay, Google will do it for you.
Focus groups – another great way to test your niche
Let’s suppose that you already have a great business idea. For example, you found a profitable retail niche or came up with a new exciting product. How to make sure that there is the market for all of that? There are many effective ways to test your niche before launching the business, and one of them is using the focus groups.
What is a focus group?
To put it simply, this is the group of people – potential consumers – whom you expect to see as your clients in the future. The idea behind all this “focus group” situation is to present them your idea, collect their responses, and analyze the results that you’ll get. This will basically be the feedback to your idea and based on their opinion, you’ll be able to make changes to your project so that it would become better and more likely to be spotted by the potential customers. Using the help of the focus groups is very easy and accessible way to test your niche. The most important thing about it is to find the right people for this group.
Usually, the focus groups require around 8-10 people. They should belong to the same demographic group but be strangers to each other. There also must be a moderator, the person who’ll facilitate all this process. Typically, this is somebody who has nothing to do with your business. So basically, you’ll get a bunch of unbiased people who’ll give an honest opinion about your product or service.
The role of the moderator in this process is to ask the people in the group a series of questions and document their responses. The questions must be focused on the business. Likewise, the responses will provide some very valuable business insights and will show how exactly this group perceives your product or service.
The focus groups are a great way to get an honest and qualitative insight into your business idea. This approach is very common in a number of industries. Such groups are widely used in business to test literally everything. The cinema industry also uses the focus groups to test the early versions of some new movie. The focus groups go as far as into the public sector and governmental institutions, where they test the educational initiatives, public messages, etc.
The information you’ll get from the focus groups
- Determine the ways in which your specific demographics think or find out how they feel about your idea in action
- Track the way people think and hence find out the reasons why they think like that
- Find the weak points in your idea and the ways you could improve it so that your product would fulfill the needs of potential customers
- Determine the ways in which you’ll be able to market your product to your audience
- See how people will react to your service or product
- Track the ways in which the preferences of your target audience transform over the time
- See if the findings of one focus group match with the findings of the other (if you can market the product to different demographics).
Naturally, the focus groups are not perfect. They have some disadvantages about which you should remember. For example, the people in focus groups tend to fall under the effect of groupthink, or the moderator may face some managerial issues. Still, despite all the negative sides, the focus group are one of the most effective qualitative research sources for any kind of business.
How to organize the work of the focus group
There are four main steps of the qualitative research in focus groups:
1 – research and plan the focus group
2 – find the right people
3 – conduct the group
4 – analyze the obtained responses
Below, we’ll take a closer look at each step.
Research and plan the focus group
A study of the focus group requires a long process or research and thorough planning. It is necessary to research the target audience, and later to modify the list of your potential customers based on the way different people react to your product. In order to do this, it is required to polish your value proposition. It will be very difficult for you to pitch your idea to the people if you don’t know its exact value.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why? What is the reason for you to sell this product? Is there any philosophy behind it?
- What? What is it that you sell? What are the names of the product and to what categories does it belong?
- Which? Which needs are you going to fulfill with this product? Do you have the list of the key issues this product will solve?
- Where? Do you know where you will sell this product? Did you determine your target channels ( physical stores, e-commerce, online marketplaces, social media, or any other way?)
On answering all of the questions from the list above, remember that your goal is to learn everything about your target market. Another great way to research your audience is to do the audience research via some popular marketing platform like Amazon or Facebook.
Use Amazon to research the audience
This is a great place to start examining the audience. Go to the full store directory and see what are the broad categories for the products that are sold from there. Namely, if you are planning to sell some tools for gardening, click the “Garden and Outdoors” category as a home one.
Next, go through the subcategories to narrow the niche. You’ll be able to go deeper and deeper to see all the product categories and their subcategories until you reach the specific products. Here your task is to look through the product descriptions of your rivals and analyze how they market their products.
At this point, take advantage of Amazon once again: open the category that you need and open the best selling products in this category. Check what are the keywords that mark the target market for the product and analyze what you see. Who is expected to buy that product? Are they amateurs or professionals? How old are they? What gender are they? Take notes for yourself as your objective afterward is to create the demographic sketch for your specific product.
Use Facebook to research audience
This is one more great market analysis tool that you can use for your research absolutely for free. Go to Facebook Add Manager and open the Audience Insights instrument. Noex, you need to select “Everyone on Facebook.” There, you will see the “Interest field” into which you’ll need to add all your main rivals. If your niche is small, the competitor might not appear on the list. In this case, all you need to do is to check the leading publications in this niche.
The data that you’ll get from this search will show the age, gender, education level, location, job titles, household income, home ownership, and other related info about the customers. You’ll also be able to see their liked pages to determine what are the other brands that they admire. With the help of this data, you’ll be able to sketch your target group, which is necessary for the next step – finding and recruiting the participants for the focus group.
Find the right people
If you have conducted the thorough research, you must already have a pretty solid idea of what people are you going to invite into your focus group. If you are not sure yet, at least you’ll know their average age, gender, location, educational level, and household income. This information will be useful for you when you’ll choose the candidates.
Remember that you need to limit the focus group to a certain number of people (from 6 to 10). Don’t invite less than 6 people because it will impact the overall discussion. The participants can be found in many places. The most common ones are:
- Craigslist. This is a great place for the consumer-focused ideas. Best for low and middle market segments. Since this platform is open by nature and it has a vast audience, it is easy to find the potential participants there.
- Groups on Facebook. You can check out the active groups with the similar audience profile to your target niche keywords.
- Groups on LinkedIn. Use the target keywords in the same way as before – to search for the most appropriate groups. Limit the search to “Groups” rather than the companies or separate individuals. Try to find the groups that have the same target audience.
- Reddit. This is one more resourceful place. Look through the subreddits and perform a search for your target keywords. You need to find the subreddit with the description that matches your audience description.
As soon as you find the necessary pages, try to contact each person that you like individually. Or you can also leave a post about your project and see who responds. The latter way usually takes more time, but it is more effective in the end. When you post the requirements, there are some things that you should remember:
– give the monetary reward. The sum that you’ll pay needs to be not very small for the people to feel the value, but not too big so that they wouldn’t participate just for money;
– describe your project and specify the main purpose of gathering the group;
– write out the specific requirements in a very clear way;
– mention that it is an essential requirement that they meet as a group via webcam and that the interview will be recorded;
– outline the timeframes of the interview and ensure that all the potential group members are available.
Conduct the Group
At this point, you have to plan the meeting of the focus group. First of all, it is necessary to choose the medium that you’ll use for this process. The conventional way of working with the focus groups is in the face-to-face meeting, however, it is not always possible. That is why you need to come up with some effective alternative, such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or any other tool that would be accessible to each member. The tool must be able to host all the people involved at once, and it also has to have a recording capability. Once you set everything up, move on to the questions.
Having the right questions for the people in focus group is critical. The questions must be relevant and well-developed so that you could obtain the most specific details about their attitude towards your product.
How to develop the right questions
s soon as you start working on this process, mind the following pieces of advice.
- Open-ended questions. Every question must be developed in a way to encourage the discussion. You can think about the qualities like positive and negative sides, areas of improvement and other things like that.
- Clarity. Make sure that every question presumes a single answer and focuses on a specific issue. The participants mustn’t feel any doubt once they hear your question.
- Questions that encourage the discussion. The main goal of this whole thing is to start a discussion. Your questions must get people to talk about your product, and the more opinions you’ll obtain, the better results this initiative will bring.
Many people categorize their questions into the categories like Product-related, Pricing-related, Sales-related, Change-related, Results-related, etc.
The best possible variant is when you’ll have people talk about each question for 10 minutes. The overall length of discussion depends upon the size of the group; the more people the longer the conversation.
Don’t forget about the moderator though. You need to make sure that this person can conduct a good discussion. While choosing the moderator, pay attention to some important characteristics. First of all, this person must be someone who has nothing to do with your business. This is an essential requirement if you really want to get unbiased results. Ask your friends or relatives who are not related to your future business anyhow (they should have really good people management skills though).
Analyze the obtained responses
This is the final step in the whole process of working with a focus group. In fact, you’ll already have finished all the operations with the focus group directly. At this point, all that is left to do is to analyze everything that your moderator has collected during the meeting. Talk to the moderator and ask him or her about the overall feelings and impressions from the meeting, the difficulties, the opinions that the participants expressed. After you talk to the moderator, look through all the recordings of the discussion.
How to analyze the answers
There are two common ways to analyze the collected information.
The first way is using question-focused approach. This means gathering all the responses according to the questions. You can arrange them in the small takeaways and analyze in relation to every person individually and the whole group as a whole. This will show you whether the average opinion about your idea matches your vision of this product.
A second way is an individual-focused approach. To make it work, collect the responses of all the participants to every separate question and then map their answers against the demographic profile of the participants. This will enable you to analyze what factors influence the opinion of each group member.
The best results will be obtained if you combine both approaches to the analysis. Use both approaches to determine what the people in your target group think about your product as a group and as individuals.
At the end of the analysis, singe out a couple of the most important findings from the responses, such as:
– benefits of the product;
– drawbacks and weak spots;
– things to be enhanced ;
– things keep the way they are;
– attitude to pricing;
– estimated demand.
As you can see, testing the niche is a long process but you shouldn’t skip this part if you want to reduce the possible risks of the product no being accepted by the target audience. Starting the new business is never easy, and all you can do to simplify the whole process is to spend enough time on planning.
All these tips could be very useful if you want to determine your niche. Follow these tips and you will save a lot of time and energy, as well as money. These tools are great directions for your ideas to become something more concrete. Still, consider that these are just suggestions. No one can give you the formula that guarantees a 100% success. Finally, check some other pages and try to find some additional tips, especially if your desired niche is more specific and requires more professional engagement.