Here are two quick rules that makes niche marketing profitable:

  1. Choose a niche market that's easy to identify or find.
  2. Make sure your niche market is easy and inexpensive to contact, too.

Here's a classic example of how to mess up these two rules.

As a shareholder and meddler in a software company, I thought one of our products, a forms generation program, would take the business market by storm. Businesses could simply design a master form on the computer for customers or employees to fill out. Filled-out forms could be stored neatly on the computer--no filing cabinets needed, no wasted time at the photocopier. Big savings for businesses--big profits for our company.

Sounds like the ideal product, right? Wrong. Money-sucking marketing disaster.

Every business needed this product. The market was bigger than a niche; it was enormous. But we couldn't identify the people who actually buy this software. So, we mailed, we advertised, we called...and watched our marketing efforts suck large amounts of money from our bank account.

We violated Rule #1 (we couldn't identify our market) and Rule #2 (we had to market to the masses, which cost us a fortune).

Let's look at some practical real-life case studies of winning niche marketing campaigns.

 

Case Study #1: Diet Products

You can't sell multivitamins to the masses. The market is too big. However, you can sell diet products to overweight prospects. We are easy to identify and find (Rule #1), and easy to contact inexpensively (Rule #2). Simply offer an all-you-can-eat contest at the event. We'll show up in hordes. Let's get a little more creative: Say you want an inexpensive marketing campaign for your secret product, "Fat-Be-Gone."

  1. You create a one-third page coupon that points out how your product dissolves fat and reduces the fat absorbed from fatty foods. Maybe you offer a free candy bar as a premium with the first month's purchase.
  2. You get your coupons printed. At a local printer, your coupons will cost about 2 cents each.
  3. You get your coupons inexpensively distributed to targeted, overweight prospects.

You decide that couch potatoes are so lazy, they'll order food delivered to their door. (Why waste time driving to a local restaurant when someone will bring you food while you watch television?)

What kind of food has a high fat content and can be delivered in 30 minutes or less? Pizza. You go to a pizza place, talk with the manager, tell him you'd like to put one "Fat-Be-Gone" coupon in every pizza box delivered.

That's targeted niche marketing.

Why would the manager let you insert your coupons for free? Maybe your coupon says that just one "Fat-Be-Gone" capsule reduces fat intake-- now you can eat all the pizza you want. Good news for the pizza manager: Now his favorite couch potato customers can order pizza twice a day.

What if the pizza manager refuses to put your coupons in the pizza boxes? Talk to the pizza delivery boys; they'd be glad to make a little extra money. Ask them to put a coupon in every box they deliver, or at least leave a coupon with every customer. Have them put their name or initials on the coupons so you can track their results and commissions.

Yes--"commissions." Offer the pizza delivery boys a 25 percent commission on the first bottle ordered per customer. It's not big money, but it's probably a lot more than the tips they're getting. They'll think, "Hey, I can pass out coupons. It doesn't cost me anything; it takes only a second. And I can earn an extra $10 to $40 a night. No-brainer!" If they're sharp, they'll hand out your coupons to other "targeted prospects" they meet during the day, too.

 

Case Study #2: Run a Contest

The real marketing secret of contests is to pick the right prize. You don't want to give away cash. Everybody wants cash; that's not very targeted. You want a contest prize that's interesting only to qualified prospects.

Let's say you sell carpets: Make your prize "three rooms of free carpeting." Only people who want new carpeting will enter the contest--and you'll have highly qualified prospects, which will save you from weeding through hundreds of unqualified leads.

If you sell mobile telephones, offer a basic starter telephone as the prize. Current owners (non-prospects) won't enter: they already have their phones.

If you sell expensive skin care for women, offer a free year's supply--or even a lifetime supply--of your skin care. You'll get highly qualified prospects entering your contest. Or, if you don't want to use your product as a prize, pick a prize that still targets your niche. Instead of offering a year's supply of skin care, you could offer:

Now, ask yourself: "Where can I find a great niche of targeted prospects that's easy to market to?"

 

TOM SCHREITER
writes Fortune Now , an online newsletter for network marketing leaders.