Business owners are often tempted by the idea of large target markets. They think that creating products or services that appeal to many, means more sales and greater revenue.

But the reality is more complicated than this. When you have a product with broad appeal, you often face greater competition. Other companies will have similar products and they’ll be targeting huge swathes of your market with their promotional strategy.

This is why developing a market niche is so important to businesses, particularly smaller ones. In deciding what it is that makes your product or service unique, you can appeal to a smaller but more receptive audience, making your marketing efforts much more effective.

So how can you go about finding your own market niche? Here are a few steps you should take in order to find the right business niche for you.

Look at your Own Interests, Passions and Values

When you’re working far beyond the standard 9 to 5 to get your new business venture off the ground, it’s all a lot easier if you’re excited about the idea you’re working towards.

Think about your own personal interests and passions. How do you like to spend your free time? What publications do you like to read? What topics are you passionate about? What values would you like your enterprise to embody?

When something is exciting to you it feels less like work. Your enthusiasm will also translate into more imaginative products, services and marketing strategies.

Assess the Competition

In order to develop your market niche, you have to provide something that very few others (ideally no one else) is currently providing. You can only do this by looking at and analysing the competition.

Who is offering a similar product or service? Are there any limitations to the product or service they provide? These questions should lead you to establish what you can do differently – in terms of customer service, product capabilities or branding.

Develop an Understanding of your Target Market

Niche products tend to have very specific target audiences. You need to understand the values and priorities of a potential target market. You also need to know where you can go to reach them with your marketing materials.

By delving into a target market, you can learn more about the problems they encounter. For instance 1300 Rubbish found that hoarders could benefit from their cleaning services, whilst Active Mum found that pregnant women and new mums were struggling to find appropriate opportunities for exercise. Once you understand the problems faced by your target market, you can further develop your product or service to solve those problems effectively.

Conduct Market Research

Once you’ve set upon a product or service and a target market, you should conduct thorough market research to determine the viability of your niche within the market. You may be passionate about your product or service. But the real question you need to answer is whether anyone else shares your enthusiasm!

Any research you undertake should be combined with a comprehensive projection of the sales you require to make your business sustainable. How many people are likely to be interested in your product? Will they buy from you just once or multiple times over the course of the year? Establish demand and potential revenues in order to determine whether your niche market has the potential to be successful in the long term.

 

Following these four steps should bring you closer to your market niche. You’ll develop ideas that perfectly solve the problems faced by a small but still potentially lucrative target market. In doing so, you’ll find ideas that you’re passionate about, that will be easy to market and that will help you to convert more potential customers into loyal brand advocates.


Melanie Saunders is a blogger and content manager at 1300 Rubbish – experts in the field of rubbish and junk removal. Personally, a huge fan of sustainability and green living.


These days, small businesses are competing to be heard through a lot of noise, and grabbing the attention of prospective customers isn’t as simple as it used to be. Consumers want to be drawn in by your story, not bombarded with sales-focused messages akin to late night infomercials. They want unique, valuable and actionable insights – and they expect to get it from you for free.

So how can a small business achieve this?

Simply put, through content marketing.

When you’re new to the game, building brand equity needs to be a priority. Content marketing can help you increase awareness of your business amongst relevant target audiences at the top of the funnel, and build trust with them so you can start moving them through the buyer journey, towards more conversion-focused strategies.

As long as you have a strong strategy behind what you’re creating, you can use content marketing to kick start your digital growth – for low cost and with high impact.

Let’s take a closer look at how.

Write about things people are searching for

It sounds obvious, but your content is only valuable if people actually see it, and unfortunately it’s not as simple as hitting publish and watching the traffic flow in. One of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to keep people coming back to your content is to optimise it for search engines. You want people who are searching for the exact problem that your business fixes to find you.

Putting search engine optimisation (SEO) into practice takes time and research. To get started, make sure you’re using tools such as Google Keyword Planner to find relevant long-tail keywords with high search volume. This will tell you the right kinds of topics to focus on, the words to weave into your content headings, subheadings and paragraphs (where it makes sense to). As well as trying to rank your specific pieces of content, remember that the simple process of having relevant, fresh content published on your site regularly can help the rest of your site rank in search engines for relevant keywords. Over time you’ll see that this is invaluable for sending ongoing, qualified traffic to your site, at no extra cost to you.

Spread the word on social media

It’s no secret that social media is a powerful tool to promote your content. It allows you to be personal and creative with your message, and invite consumers to share and engage with your content. Done right, the potential reach for social media content is huge.

So where to start?

This will depend on your brand and business idea, but Facebook is generally a useful place to begin. With over two billion users, it’s safe to say that the platform’s potential reach is astronomical. And with its highly specific targeting options, you can quite easily find the people who’ll most likely get value from your content.

Here are a few simple pointers for promoting on Facebook:

  • Write a killer headline. Keep it short, active, and demonstrative of the benefit to your audience.
  • Use a well-designed image. If you can invest in a professional designer or photographer, avoid stock photos. Otherwise, teach yourself how to use Photoshop and utilise sites like Unsplash which offer free images that look much more natural and will be more engaging for the social media audience.
  • Write great copy. Keep it concise, ask thoughtful questions to encourage engagement, and use a clear CTA so the user knows exactly what step to take. You could even throw in a couple of emojis (if it feels right for your brand).
  • Always put budget behind the post. Set up target audiences and promote to them with a budget that works for you. With Facebook’s organic reach well and truly dead, there’s almost no point publishing on your page if you’re not willing to pay to get your post seen.

Use email outreach

Another way to promote your content and build brand awareness is through email outreach. But like all aspects of content marketing, the tactics have to be smart and appealing.

Here are few tricks of the trade to consider in your email outreach strategy:

  • Use a professional email address. [email protected] simply won’t cut it anymore. To build trust, make sure you send emails from a professional-looking address.
  • Make the subject line count. Intriguing and simple is best. Remember, it’s the first thing your readers will see.
  • Make it personal. You should know your audience inside out before shooting off emails. Think of it as a conversation (without being too informal), and don’t be too pushy. People love to talk about themselves, so find a point of commonality and show that you understand them.
  • Make it concise. Get your information across as efficiently as possible. No one has time to read an essay.
  • Make it obvious what you want. If you’re asking them for something, be direct about it. “I’d love if you’d share this article in your weekly newsletter because I think your audience will get a lot out of it” will be much more effective than “I hope you like the article.” People don’t have the time or motivation to read between the lines.
  • Send at the right time. Send your emails during the working week and in work hours – and not on public holidays.  

Speak about your business, but don’t be too pushy

Most people aren’t interested in the launch of a new business – unless they know exactly how it can benefit them. Content should never be extremely self-centred, and should always focus on the end user.

However, if the aim is to get word out about your business, there are still ways to weave this into your content. It’s just about being delicate, building a relationship with your reader first, and writing about the benefits that people actually care about.

Particularly in the early stages, content marketing is more about establishing trust from your audience and offering valuable content that shows them you’re an expert in what you do.

You can do this by:

  • Using visual data or referencing original research you have done
  • Focusing on quality, not quantity – there’s no use posting the longest article on a topic if it’s not providing value every step of the way
  • Linking to relevant and useful content from your own or other sites
  • Responding to comments (on a blog or social media posts)
  • Sharing a consistent message across platforms

Ticking all these boxes will help you develop organic relationships with your audience.

Include relevant Call To Actions

While you don’t want to make your content all about you, you should always include relevant calls to action (CTAs) to ensure you’re getting the most out of the traffic you’re sending to your site. Trial using CTAs in-text, on banners and widgets, through pop ups or as part of your blog design.

But what makes a good CTA? Firstly, it needs to relate to your content, so that it’s specific and relevant enough for your audience to want to take note. Secondly, it has to be well-written, which means keeping it simple, being clear about the benefits to the end user, optimising it for all devices, and creating a sense of urgency.

Work with influencers

Influencer outreach is one way to break free from the noise and get your voice heard. Working with industry influencers gives you access to someone with great sway over your target audience. The relationship you build with them increases your credibility as a business, and in turn, your capacity to reach new customers.

When you decide to get in touch with influencers, make sure your purpose is clear. Be honest, straightforward, and establish what’s in it for them. If you’re having difficulties reaching influencers, there are several outreach tools you can try out.

Don’t forget to measure

Finally, how do you know what’s working and what’s not? While brand awareness isn’t the easiest thing to measure, there are ways to gauge how many people you’re reaching through your content. Importantly, it’s about understanding what metrics are most relevant to your business goals.

For brand awareness, this is usually:

  • Impressions
  • Traffic
  • Click-throughs
  • Social shares and comments

To get accurate data on all these metrics, you can simply use Google Analytics or the in-built analytics tools on various social media platforms. Remember that the more information you have about your customer’s behaviour, the better you can optimise your content to suit them.

Jump on board today

Make no mistake – content marketing is a tried and tested way of cutting through the clutter and getting word out about your business. More than this, building an audience organically will help you naturally convert readers into customers, while simultaneously establishing your business as a reputable industry leader.

I can’t recommend this approach enough for businesses new and old. If you have any questions about how to make it work for you, I’d love to help – feel free to leave them in the comments!


Sophie McAulay is a creative digital strategist who specialises in content marketing at digital consultancy Web Profits. She’s motivated by helping clients achieve their goals through original content that inspires their target audience.


So you have a fantastic idea for a startup and enough funds to create a minimal viable product to test it on the market? That’s great; you’re on your way to launching a potentially successful venture.

However, many startup owners forget how vital marketing is to the success of their product. After all, how else will your target audience learn about it without you putting in any resources into promotion?

Most of the time, founders have only enough funds to build an MVP and spread the news to acquire the first adopters. That’s why you need extra capital to spread the news about your product to a broader group of potential customers.

Here are 5 ways to help you find money for your startup’s first marketing campaign and take your business operation to the next level.

1. Friends and family

Financing your startup campaign thanks to resources coming from friends and family is one interesting option you should consider. Getting funded by people you know is rather simple because they already respect and trust you. Moreover, you can ask them for loans on favorable terms, and in some cases, you won’t even have to worry about interest.

Still, make sure that the deal is beneficial for them as well. You can offer them some dividend such as a share in the profits or revenue.

But don’t forget that raising funds for your marketing campaign from friends and family will not allow you to validate your product idea. After all, they might not know your industry and won’t be able to judge the value of your idea accurately.

2. Microloans & grants

Have you ever heard about microfinance? Microloans are small, short-term loan available to businesses that can be used as working capital or resource for your next marketing campaign. If you’re looking for a few thousand dollars, consider getting a microloan or government grants.

Microloans are subsidized loans by the state designated authority or nonprofit organizations. If your startup idea has been validated, you stand a chance at getting one to fund your marketing activities.

All you need to do is draft a business and marketing plan and get in touch with the organization responsible for giving out the loans or small grans. Even if you are sure that your application is strong, it’s always a good idea to ask for advice.

Research the opportunities available to businesses in your area and get in touch with the appropriate authorities to learn more about the application process and boost your chances of success. Start by checking out this list of the best microloans on the market.

3. Logbook loans

Logbook loans are a type of secure loans that work like a security bill of sale. In that type of transaction, borrowers transfer ownership of their car or another vehicle to the logbook lender as a security to secure the loan. While repaying the loan, the borrower keeps possession of the vehicle and can use it.

But until the loan is cleared, the formal ownership of the vehicle rests with the lender. If you’re based in the UK, logbook loans are an excellent option to raise funds for your marketing campaign because there exists a designated legal process to administer these loan to make them secure.

4. Crowdfunding

Another great option to kick off your startup idea is by sharing it on a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding means that you will be funding your campaign by raising contributions from a large number of Internet users.

This relatively new concept of alternative financing gained lots of popularity over the last years, and some claim that crowdfunding is on its way to surpassing venture capital funding as its size has reached $35 billion and constantly expanding.

Just consider the number of startup success stories we owe to the platform Kickstarter.

There are many ways in which you can benefit from crowdfunding – it can be reward-based or equity-based. Have a look on the web to find a crowdfunding platform and consider consulting and mediating company to make sure that you’re choosing a reliable funding partner. And before you set up a crowdfunding campaign, read the terms of your contract with the platform carefully. All that’s left is sharing the campaign as widely as possible on the web to reach lots of users.

5. Renting out extra space

If you’ve got some physical space you’re not using such as the garage, basement or a room at your office, don’t hesitate to advertise it on the sharing community sites to earn extra cash and fund your startup’s marketing campaign. That type of initiative will help you make the most of your resources, so advertise your space right now and start making money off it to add an extra boost to your marketing.

 

Use these 5 steps, and you will be on your way to securing funding for your marketing campaign and ensuring the efficient promotion of your products among your target audience.
 

Emma Lewis is a loving mother, a devoted wife and a part of the team supporting Spacer – a company helping you find storage space whenever you need it. Emma is also a staunch supporter of  the sharing economy and often mentions its benefits.


My name is Melissa Stevens, I’m an entrepreneur and this is the story of how I bought a dropshipping e-commerce site and doubled its monthly sales to $10,000 in just one month.

Lightingshoes.net is the site. It sells light-up shoes to consumers of all ages and walks of life. For toddlers, kids and adults too, we offer sneakers, low tops and high tops in various designs and colors.

Last month we attracted 11,000 visitors to the site, and earned $10,000 in sales. This month we’re on target for $15,000, and I’m confident we can continue to increase sales as the business and our marketing develop.

How I Came To Own lightingshoes.net

I’m a software developer and I was exploring the idea of a SAAS product to sell to users on a recurring monthly plan to bring in some passive income. A friend recommended I check out Shopify. He believed there were great opportunities to create plugins for the Shopify market. I really liked Shopify, but it wasn’t clear to me what Shopify users wanted or needed from a new plugin.

I decided the best option was to become a Shopify site owner myself, and I searched for a Shopify business for sale that was already established and getting orders. The next day, I was the proud owner of lightingshoes.net.

Solving Problems

I jumped on the site quickly because I felt it was such as good deal. I’m sure you want to know why. The owner was asking only $8,000 for it, and average monthly sales over its 6 month lifespan were $5,000, with a profit margin around 20%.

The reason the price was so low was the amount of work needed to make the site a proper business, and the issues that had to be fixed after I bought the site.

1. Unreliable suppliers

Dropshipping from our supplier in China was by far the biggest issue. It was taking over 2 weeks for the shoes to arrive, and customers weren’t happy. I found a supplier with a warehouse in the US that would ship shoes directly to our customers in 3-5 days. It was no easy feat, and took well over a week to research suppliers and eliminate bad or expensive ones.

2. New merchant account needed

There were too many chargebacks due to the issues with the previous supplier. So I needed to get a new merchant processor set up when I bought the site.

3. Poor site design

It’s the details that really make a site, and lightingshoes.net was missing all the refinements needed. The site loaded extremely slowly, there were spelling errors in the logo, the footer was inaccurate, and many other problems needed fixing. I did a good amount of redesign to make it look like a real business and a site that people would trust.

How I Doubled The Conversion Rate And Sales

Now, the juicy part. The site was converting at 1.10% when I bought it, and within one month I’d increased conversion to 2.07%. This doubled the number of sales and the value of the asset. Here’s how I did it.

Before:

After: 

1. Added Discount Pop-Ups

When a visitor first arrives on the site, I added a pop-up 10% discount if they share or like us on social media. I also added an exit popup, advertising $10 off if they stay on and shop with us. In the month of March, 14 people used the intro popup coupon, and 23 used the exit offer. That’s more than worthwhile, assuming just 50% of them are customers we wouldn’t otherwise have sold to.

Shopify Plugin used: Better Coupon Box.

Intro Pop:

Exit Pop:

2. Added Sales Pop

I added a little pop at the bottom of the user’s screen showing them “Person so-and-so from such-city just bought these…” I don’t have the numbers, but this helps build trust with customers who can see others are buying from us.

Plugin used: Sales Pop.

3. Improved Product Images

With Adwords, anything that differentiates you from your competitors is a good thing. An image of your product on a white background converts best. That’s common knowledge with Adwords, and what I and every other LED shoe site was using. So I hired a Photoshop expert to change the images and make them stand out.

Before:

After:

4. Added an Abandoned Cart email series

I added marketing directed at visitors who had come to the site, started the checkout and abandoned before completing it. The previous owner missed the opportunity to follow up on these visitors, despite having their emails! We got 12 sales in the month of March from this.

The Fruits Of My Labor

The result of my work was doubled revenue to $10,000 per month, and a profit margin around 25%. The business is essentially hands off for me – about 2 hours per week – since I hired a VA to handle customer support and work with the vendor. All in all, a nice asset for generating passive income.

Moving Forward

My immediate plans are to increase the site’s SEO and social media reach. I want to establish it in the top rankings for all searches related to its keyword.

I’ve already been approached by some potential buyers. When the time is right I will turn the asset over to the right buyer. I’d expect a possible 7x return on my investment.

My Top Advice For Passive Income Seekers

Do your due diligence. Really investigate every little detail, do your research thoroughly and use expert help. In all the excitement and optimism for making money and that the project is going to be easy, be sure to think through how much hard work it’s going to take before launching into your business.

Reinvest the income from your site back into the business. For the future return I’m expecting, I’ve been pouring a significant amount back into SEO.

 

Melissa Stevens is an entrepreneur in pursuit of a passive-income lifestyle. She is part-owner of lightingshoes.net, a dropshipping Shopify store selling light-up footwear for everyone, specializing in light-up yeezy inspired shoes. You can see an example of their adult shoes here.


Several years ago, I penned a song entitled “Content” [kuh n-tent] that was all about being satisfied.  Everyone pronounced it “content” [kon-tent] and thought it was a placeholder for the actual title. It’s a little ironic actually. Is a musician every content with his or her pieces? Marketers, too, often find themselves asking this question often: am I content with my content?

Author and historian, A. Wyatt Tilby, first used the expression “content is king” in 1914. However, he wasn’t referring to copy, video or audio, but rather to being satisfied. We think of this as a positive thing today, but Tilby spoke of the British monarchy when content was a derivative of “constrained” or “contained.” So, for a royal, their content audience was captive. Literally.

So, how do you keep your audience’s captive attention? By taking innovative and fresh approaches that keep readers informed, entertained and empowered to do more in their daily lives. Here are five ways to know if you can be content with your content or if it is time to change:

1. You are excited for others to read it

This may seem obvious but if the content doesn’t excite you – as the subject matter expert – it isn’t the right approach or needs more work. No matter your profession, we are all called to write and persuade or inform others from time to time – be it a manager, coworker, customer, patient or client. For some, writing is all they do in their jobs, and it comes naturally. For others, it’s a dreaded task. The key is to find opportunities to write about subjects that excite you. When you do, it becomes easier to create content with which you can be content. You may need to stretch the boundaries of your writing comfort zone, and research for supporting sources. But in doing so, the content will be strengthened and ultimately, professional expertise will be heightened. Now, if that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is.

The key is to find opportunities to write about subjects that excite you.

2. Ask a trusted, skeptical colleague to review

Before you hit “go live” on any piece of content, seek out your most trusted, skeptical colleague to give it a thorough review. He or she needn’t be an expert in the topic of the piece, but you do want their unbiased and honest opinion about the aesthetics, clarity, and audience-perceived value of your content. Does the headline grab the reader and pull them in? Is it true to the “meat” of the piece or is it simply click bait? The latter, while a heavily used tactic these days, can damage your credibility with your audience. Take in all feedback and make adjustments to your content to ensure your audience has the utmost opportunity to engage with, and derive meaningful takeaways.

3. The content has been active for more than three months

Now, let’s talk about the “lifespan” of an effective piece of content. Once you have your ad, whitepaper, blog or video “in the wild,” and your audiences are consuming it, you’ll want to consider how long to promote it. The duration may vary according to the traffic it gets and the resonance of its message with the intended audience. If the piece – whether being promoted via paid venues, or lives organically on your website – has been running for three months or more (or you can’t remember when it was changed), it is probably time for an update. The best way to remain content with your content is to ensure your audience doesn’t have a chance to get bored.

4. It has been seen by your core customers more than seven times

Closely tied to recommended lifespan of your content is the marketing “Rule of Seven,” which states that audiences need to see your content seven times to remember and/or take action on it. If the content is compelling, it can make an impact sooner than seven times. If the content is run-of-the-mill, it can be seen more before becoming redundant. If you’ve used the content in your rotation at least seven times, it’s a good practice to change the content before it becomes too familiar and easily tuned out.

5. The Call to Action is no longer effective

“Call to Action” (CTA) defines the desired behavior of the viewer: buy the product, watch this movie, or shop this store. Although it can be difficult, it is important to measure the results of your content based on your CTA. Pay attention to the messages your audiences are sending to you via the CTA: e.g., are they opening your emails; are they clicking the links; are they visiting your page to learn more; are they sharing or commenting on your content? These are all important indicators of message and content resonance. Monitoring the results of your CTA helps you understand if your CTA is compelling enough, or perhaps it is time to refresh the content.


To summarize, take a page out of modern marketing, whether you’re a marketing professional or not, so you can feel confident that your audience values your content. Remember to write about what excites you, seek out a trusted reviewer, keep content updated within the last three months, promote it seven times, and ensure the call to action is still driving results so you can be content with your content.

Jennifer Davis is a senior executive, industry presenter, business leader, mentor and volunteer. She is the vice president of marketing and product strategy for Planar Systems, a global leader in display and digital signage technology. More information about Jennifer is available at her website: http://atjenniferdavis.com/#homeinfo


Not all digital campaigns yield successful results. Even the most experienced digital marketers can be wrong sometimes. Some mistakes are minor and can even help you patch up weaknesses on your campaign to improve it. However, some mistakes are immensely crucial and can be costly.

Here are digital marketing mistakes you should avoid:

1. Building a site you like

A website is your number one digital weapon. It’s your online persona. It’s what your target clients see even before meeting or calling you. When you first explore the digital world, building your website is one of the first (and crucial) steps in creating a successful digital marketing. What happens is business owners become too giddy about the idea of creating a website, they often forget the goal of creating one. The goal is to communicate your business through website design and functionality to your target audience.

Your website is not built for you; it’s built for your customers. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself when building your site:

  • What will your target audience want to do on your site? Get a quote or pricing? Schedule an appointment? Then these functionalities should be easily navigated and available on your home page.
  • What is your target audience demographics? Millennials? Baby boomers? You should create a site that speaks to your audience’s behavior and interests.

2. Forgetting mobile

So your website looks divine and functions how it is meant to be… on desktop, but how about on mobile? Just last year, Google rolled out a worldwide mobile-friendly algorithm update. You can quickly check your site if it passes Google’s mobile-friendly test here. Basically, Google favors websites that are mobile-friendly on their mobile search rankings. For the last 12 months, 52% of all searches for the broad keyword “car dealer” is made through mobile devices. Make sure your website is mobile responsive so you don’t miss the party.

3. Overlooking Social Media

How can you engage social media users in an auto related business? More ways than you can think of. If your website is your online persona, social media is your online personality. It is here where you can create a community of users that share the same interests and behavior — real people.

Take a look at Computerized AutoPro’s Facebook campaign. It garnered more than 200 likes, 50 shares and 47 comments, and counting. Their calls and quote requests increased significantly. One important thing to remember when doing social media campaigns is engaging back. Reply to comments, thank users for their support, use emoticons and the ‘@’ tag.

4. Not making it easy for your customers

In relation to building a site for your target audience, another important aspect is customer experience. Do your customers leave the second they click on your site? Aren’t you getting enough subscribers or form submissions? We are in the era of customers. A great digital campaign understands the customer’s needs and how they think.

If you are an ecommerce site, you can improve customer experience by allowing guest checkout. Most people like to do online transactions quickly and securely, and filling out several boxes is just a hassle. If you’re doing leads generation using a form, you may want to shorten the required fields to only the necessary information like email address and name.

5. Frequent promotions

Customers love promotions — well, it depends. It is proven that people desire things that are “limited.” That is called the psychology of scarcity. If you give out promotions or discounts frequently, you create a perception of availability. With that kind of perception, customers tend to be less motivated because they know, based from your past marketing, that you’ll have another promotion soon. It doesn’t create a sense of urgency, and without urgency there’s no immediate action from the customers. If they don’t call, buy, or submit a form that instant, then they’ll be likely not to do so in the future.

Instead of frequent promotions, offer time-limited deals. In this way you will get your customers interests and motivate them to act quickly.

 

Jane Dizon is a business, lifestyle, health, fitness, and nutrition enthusiast and blogger. She is a nurse by profession and a writer by passion. She has a soft spot for macadamia chocolate and green tea. She’s an internet savvy who loves Excel sheets, organizing files, and sticky notes.