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Step up your niche marketing game with these 5 tips

After coming up with a unique, feasible idea for your own small business, it's time to figure out who's going to be buying your products and services by doing a little business market research. According to Entrepreneur magazine, there are two main markets to focus on: consumers and businesses. But just knowing which of these two markets you're targeting isn't enough. To really be successful, you need to narrow down your target market, or figure out your niche. Since you can't provide everything that every consumer or business needs, targeting your niche market is essential.

But putting together an effective niche marketing strategy isn't always easy. There are several challenges involved that may complicate the process. For example, in a recent ProOpinion poll, 27 percent of business professionals felt that making sure your message is heard is the biggest challenge when trying to capture customers in a niche market. Nineteen percent of business professionals pointed to competition as the biggest hurdle, while 14 percent identified the small number of customers as the most difficult aspect.

If you're having a hard time defining, reaching or serving a niche market, use these five tips to step up your game.

1. Narrow your focus
As Entrepreneur pointed out, your first job is to specify exactly what you want to sell and who exactly you want to sell it to.

"Your niche isn't the same as the field in which you work," noted the magazine. "For example, a retail clothing business is not a niche but a field. A more specific niche may be 'maternity clothes for executive women.'"

Take a good hard look at your interests, experience and offerings, and that should help you figure out the ideal niche market for your business.

"Imagine yourself in their shoes. What are these people looking for? What do they need, want and already have?"

2. Identify your niche's wants and needs
Now that you have a specific target niche in mind, imagine yourself in their shoes. What are these people looking for? What do they need, want and already have? If you consider yourself part of the niche, use your own experiences to guide you. You should also conduct a little market research by reaching out to prospective customers and talking with them about their ideas and issues with what's currently available to them. Even checking out blogs, message boards and forums related to your niche market can give you insight into market trends. Use this information to tailor your marketing campaign to solve any issues and offer answers to any questions, suggested Handmadeology.com.

3. Reach out through social media and PPC advertising
Once you know exactly what your business's goals are and have the product to back it up, it's time to spread the word about your company and get in touch with your niche market. According to WordStream, social media and pay-per-click advertising are ideal for small businesses. It's easy to set your business up with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts and reach out to potential customers through those. Business 2 Community also recommended making social media accounts on niche-specific platforms. For example, if you're reaching out to women, make a Pinterest account. If you're an interior designer, make a profile on Houzz.com.

As far as PPC, WordStream points to it as the perfect way to get your message out there.

"Include long-tail queries as well as high commercial intent keywords, optimize your campaigns for mobile (and be sure to make use of the appropriate ad extensions), and get your message in front of the right people," wrote Dan Shewan, a contributor to the site.

4. Give your idea a test drive
When you think you're ready to dive in, start your business out with a bang by testing out your products on a smaller scale to get some feedback. 

Get the ball rolling by offering free samples, holding information sessions, sending out newsletters or networking at industry events. Just don't spend a lot of money doing this, Entrepreneur suggested. You want to focus your spending on your actual goods.

"Give people an opportunity to buy your product or service - not just theoretically but actually putting it out there," Lynda Falkenstein, author of "Nichecraft: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market and Make Customers Seek You Out," told Entrepreneur.

Give your business a test drive within your niche market to make sure it's a fit.Give your business a test drive within your niche market to make sure it's a fit.

5. Keep an eye on your competitors
Businesses focused on niche markets have to stay up to date on what their competitors are doing to make sure they stay relevant. Start out by identifying which companies are targeting your niche market in the same industry, then do some research. Visit their websites and see if you can figure out what kind of strategies they're using to get their message across to your niche market. WordStream pointed out that software tools such as Adbeat, MixRank, and WhatRunsWhere can help you target their strategies. From there, it's up to you to make your business stand out in the lineup.

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