How to Gain a Foothold in a Super-Niche Market


If you’ve never heard of the concept of “product/market fit,” pay attention now—the idea will transform your approach to customer acquisition and growth. The concept is simple: rather than focusing on your solution, you need to understand your target market’s problems, challenges, and pain points.

Pick one, and develop a solution—or suite of solutions—to meet these needs. Focus on a niche but deep market, and add value in a focused yet aspirational way. Combine logic and reason with emotion-driven marketing language and voila: you have the foundations for an extremely strong marketing strategy. (Interjection: if you want a more in-depth tutorial around the concept of product/market fit, read this guide from Sean Ellis).

When you focus on a niche market, you can be more effective in positioning yourself as a market leader. First and foremost, you’ll learn everything there is about your target audience, so you’ll be better-positioned to communicate your intent in creative and impactful ways. Not to mention, you’ll increase the efficiency of your marketing campaigns. You’ll have more precision in your targeting and a stronger rapport with your customers—you won’t need to deal with the drama and waste of spray-and-pray tactics that involve casting your net wide (yes, we’ve all been there). Follow these tips, and learn how to gain a foothold in a super-niche market:

1 – Figure out who you’re trying to reach

Before you launch any marketing campaign, you need to know who you’re trying to reach, where they’re hanging out, and what they care about. Stop thinking about tech, marketing channels, and targeting. At this stage, none of these things matter: what does matter is that you gain a deep understanding of your audience’s needs and preference.

Some companies call this practice persona development. Others call it customer research. In any case, it’s a practice that you need to adopt. Hop on a phone call with members in your target audience, or take them out to lunch. Focus on getting to know their personalities and values. Figure out their pain points, and get to know their marketing preferences. Do they find emails spammy? Do they enjoy coming across retargeted product ads on social media? What are their favorite social media communities, and why?

Know who this group is, and get to know their preferences on an interpersonal level. Take members of your target audience out to coffee. Read some of the blog posts and magazine articles that they’re reading. Get to know different groups, person by person, so you can make your marketing messages as human and relevant as possible.

2 – Map out your distribution channels

Identify communities, digital and in-person, where your target audiences are likely to be enjoying content and devoting their attention (and trust.) Spend time immersing yourself within these circles and understanding how you can best leverage them as a marketer. For instance, there may be an opportunity for you to sponsor an ad, contribute a guest blog post, or host a booth an at event. Some channels to watch:

  • Online discussion forums on niche topics (think: for marketers)
  • Industry events (think: South by Southwest for creative techies)
  • Social networks (think: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter)
  • Email newsletters (think: “The Skimm”)
  • Coworking spaces and office complexes (think: WeWork)

Once you’ve studied the channels where your audiences are spending time, double-down on your investment in them. Launch ad campaigns, contribute guest articles, and be as visible as possible. Given that you’re trying to reach a niche audience, like financial advisers or lawyers, people will pay attention. Start with a few distribution channels and slowly, steadily become more present as a key force and center pillar.

3 – Become a hub

Given that you’re building an audience in a niche market, you have a clear competitive advantage: knowledge about something very specific. Why not reinvest this information, a self-generating asset, into a marketing tool?

Launch your own blog or video library. Ask members of your audience to upload photos and product tips. Use content to build a lifestyle around your brand.

A good example to follow is boutique-style women’s retailer ModCloth. The e-commerce leader has launched a style gallery, complete with photos, of community-inspired fashion. Many clothing items in these photos feature, or are similar to, items in ModCloth’s product inventory. The brand is a fashion hub, and its products are a highly visible part of the content.

4 – Retarget your audiences

You need a way to catch up with every single person who crosses paths with you. That’s where retargeting pixels enter the equation: this tech makes it possible to collect browsing and behavioral data and follow up, passively.

You can retarget your audiences across different channels like Facebook, Google, and email. You can even retarget your audiences through your own channels–if you’re running an on-site discussion forum, for instance.

Make an effort to run into the audiences that you’re trying to reach, in a friendly yet compelling way. Follow up with an offer, or be present with an interesting piece of content. Retargeting makes the Internet seem a little less big.

Final Step: Be ever-present

Once you’ve identified your audience, messaging, and opportunities for re-engagement, go all-in. Test marketing channels, learn how to make them profitable, and become a highly visible force within them. This approach will make your brand recognizable and a staple in the mind of your target customer. The key is to become a trusted part of your target audience’s community.

Photo Credit: Eugenio Marongiu/ShutterStock