Online Marketing: Should You Opt for a Popular or Niche Market?

by Daniel Offer · 20 comments

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This is a guest post from Dan Offer regarding the age old question entrepreneurs  new to online marketing face.  Popular or niche?  Dan breaks it down and attempts to help you make the best decision for YOU. And if you like this post, please be sure to drop your comments below.

Probably the most important decision to be made when considering a home-based career as an online marketer is what market to target. Get this decision wrong and the entire project can be doomed for failure – before it ever has chance to get off the ground.

So what preparations can an online marketer make to increase the chances of a successful campaign?

Unfortunately, there is no miracle crystal ball to consult that will provide a foolproof decision. In order to choose the correct market to target, any prospective online marketer will need to resort to one of the essential skills that separate a rank amateur from an internet marketing leader:

Market Research.

Before embarking on this all-important research, there is a decision to be made that is a highly debated topic within internet marketing circles and it revolves around the type of market to move into: Laser-targeted and low-competition, or more general and competitive.

Let’s compare the two options and look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Niche Markets

‘Niche’ is the term used by most internet marketers to refer to low-competition, specialist markets. Niche marketing can be very lucrative but is not as easy as many people initially assume. But it can be a good place to start for anyone looking to get into online marketing that does not yet have the skills, or finances, to take on more experienced marketers that have deeper pockets.

The ultimate goal is to find a market with little competition that still has plenty of interest and prospective buyers. This is not as easy as it once was – due to the ever-increasing popularity of online purchasing. There are few markets left that have not been seized upon, but that does not mean that there are no great niches to target.

Niche markets do require extensive investigation and finding a suitable prospect will mean search engine, keyword and product research. But finding that ideal niche and then dominating it can be very satisfying. Two of the main benefits with a niche market are: Many of the people searching for products, or services, within these markets are real buyers and unlikely to be general searchers, or timewasters; and the low-competition does make it easier to grab a good search engine ranking with some good SEO tactics.

Advantages of Niche Markets

  • Easier to develop good search engine rankings
  • Can have better sales conversions due to targeted searches
  • Low-competition
  • Lower cost of general advertising and PPC advertising

Disadvantages of Niche Markets

  • Can be hard to locate a highly-profitable niche
  • More research and development required
  • Some niches are low-profit margin, or low-product cost, and require more sales.
  • Can be hit and miss, especially if a fad product is chosen.

Popular Markets

There are many popular markets and many new marketers are tempted into them. It is not always made clear how difficult it can be to break into these popular markets – they have massive competition and are often dominated by established businesses and marketers. That is not to say that the task is impossible; there are ways to break into popular markets through the back door, but trying to take them on headfirst can be online marketing suicide.

Take the weight loss market for example: This is a massively popular market and has been for a very long time. Breaking straight into this market will require a lot of SEO work and results can take months to pay dividend. Good rankings in Google have become slightly easier with the introduction of the new Google search results format – but do not expect to create a website, add a few keywords, backlinks and instantly burst onto the first page search results.

To master popular markets an online marketer will need good unique keywords – which will be difficult to find due to the amount of competition – and strong backlinks. Then there is the added complication of making content more inviting, and unique, than that of the competition.

Advantages of Popular Markets

  • Massive amount of monthly searches and visitations
  • Proven markets mean proven profitability
  • Unlikely to saturate due to the sheer popularity
  • Stability and masses of information already available for market research

Disadvantages of Popular Markets

  • Hard to break in to and dominate
  • High PPC advertising competition can mean expensive CPC.
  • Established websites already have thousands of strong links in place – hard to outrank
  • Lots of rival products – potential customers have huge choice and so conversions can suffer

Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer. The choice lies in: what product, or service, is being sold; marketing experience; budget and finances; business structure; and realistic expectations.

Ideally, a combination of both markets would be favorable. Selecting a popular market and then finding a sub-market within this – that just happens to be niche and low-competition – would be a great position to be in. The downside is that many people realize this and it is not as easy as many would have you think.

This does not mean the task is impossible – just that any popular market may already possess thousands of small niches that are already being milked, so finding that untapped market within the popular categories is not always a simple task. One method is to use the popularity of a product to your advantage and then sell smaller niche accessories for that popular product. Again, this idea is already a well-used tactic but still a highly successful technique.

Maybe it would be easier to find a unique product, or service, and go for that truly niche market? The only problem is finding enough interest to make the whole process profitable. In this situation, high-end products with increased profit margins may be the better option – it really depends on the niche. If a suitable niche can be found, that had acceptable interest and the consumer base was right, then the low-cost/more-sales techniques could pay dividend.

Pick one and Stick With it

It may sound like there are no right choices, or that there are too many choices. Finding the right market and performing sound research is fundamental to success. Lack of preparation and impatience are probably two of the main reasons why 95% of new marketers fail.

The final marketing choice often rests on the product, service and on the individual planning the actual campaign. Unless you have already found that untapped niche market the best option, for a new or inexperienced marketer, may rest in the one previously mentioned: Looking for popular markets, and the products they contain, and then opting to supply smaller accessories, or add-ons.

If you can find a market that interests you, this will be advantageous. Creating campaigns around products, or services, that you are already familiar with instantly gives you an advantage – overall research will be reduced, content will be easier to assemble and you may well be able to establish yourself as an expert within this niche.

It is essential that whatever market you choose to work with that you then stick with it, give it your all and give the campaign a chance to succeed. Some markets are tougher than others and some enterprises will take longer to establish. A common mistake is to abandon a project without giving it a fair chance to prove itself and many new marketers flit from market to market – without ever making an impact.

Perseverance and commitment are essential tools for any new marketer and if you want to build a successful career, and secure a long-term presence within the industry, you will need to learn that success and profits rarely happen overnight.

So how about you?  Niche or popular market?  High competition or low competition?  Drop your thoughts in the comment section and let us know where you sit.

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