Who’s Afraid of Competition?

We have run into a number of competitors during our niche market research process.   Hopefully made some notes about them along the way.

While the initial inclination is to be discouraged by the competitors, the truth is that for the most part, they are a good sign. One you should be grateful for, because their presence in the market indicates that people are willing to spend money in your niche. Thus when you get your product(s) out there you should have a good shot at making money.

If there are a lot of competitors, that means a lot of people are making money.

What you want to do is subscribe to their mailing lists, and analyze their follow-up emails.  You want to go to their web sites and make a copy of their sales pages and analyze them as well.

Make note of the commissions they pay, the % of payout etc.  Figure out how long they have been around. Do they frequently update their web pages? Do they offer bonuses. What types of free offers do they use? And what type of up-sells do they present?  What are their price points?

You want to make a study of the major competitors and then you want to explore what they don’t offer.  What could they do better?

You want to do a SWOT analysis. Swot stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

For each of your top competitors, identify what their strength is, Where are they weak, how can you turn it into an advantage for you, and what will be most difficult to overcome.

Odds are you won’t become the dominant force in your niche overnight. But you can find a toe hold and build from there.  Find an angle of attack keeping in mind everything you have learned during your market research. And then don’t over analyze.

While it’s vitally important to research your niche don’t get stuck in the process.  Get it done, and create a plan and take action.

You have picked a niche, you have researched it and determined that it is vital. You have identified the types of problems people in the niche are looking for solutions on, and have a good idea of who those people are.

Now it’s time to create a product or find one of more products you can represent as an affiliate.

Understanding Niche Demographics

The final free tool we are going to discuss on this series on niche marketing is Quantcast.com.  The more you know about your niche’s demographics the better and this is where we are going to find the best information quickly and easily.

Go to www.Quantcast.com and once there register for free.

Then pick one of the top web sites you have found in your niche.  Quantcast will provide you with information on their site and their demographics.  You may want to check out three or four or more sites to see how the results are the same of different. If they are different you will want to reason out why.

By examining the demographics of people going to the top competitors in you niche you should be able to pick up some solid insights into the audience you will want to target with your site or product.

Quantcast is a tool that you can use to find the demographics of your audience. This tool allows you to gather traffic statistics and demographics data for any existing sites on the Internet.

For this demonstration, we will continue to discuss the Sleep Apnea niche we have covered in past posts.  One of the top sites in the forums was www.apneasupport.org

When we search on it we discover one of the limitations of Quantcast.  Small and moderate sized sites are not as well documented as are major authority sites. That said in this case they do return data which we will review. We just need to keep in mind that it may not be as accurate as we would prefer, but it’s much better than nothing.

Like Google Trends it provides a graph showing their estimate of the traffic to the site.

The Quantcast statistics suggest average traffic of about 14.8K per month.

The above 6 month chart shows a drop off in traffic in the months of November and December of 2009.  In this case the data is from just the US.

On larger sites, you can get world wide distribution as well.

Below the traffic chart is the nitty gritty and why we want to use Quantcast, the Demographics.

With this data we see that the searchers for information on the topic are somewhat more likely to be women, typically 35 or older with the largest group 50+.   Most are Caucasian with no children at home.  They tend to have had a college education with more than an average amount having graduate education, but their incomes tend to be slightly below than average which may indicate a significant portion of retired people.

With this background information, you now have a better idea of who your prospect may be.  To do this right you should as I mentioned check on several other related sights to see what variations in the data you can find.

This will allow you to brainstorm ideas to make your site more user friendly, which in turn should help the success of your venture.  It may also give you ideas on the type of additional products you could offer your prospect.

This finishes my tour of free research tools you can use to identify and develop profitable niche markets.  In my next post in this series we will discuss competition.

Creative Use of Clickbank as a Free Marketing Intelligence Tool

Clickbank is the largest affiliate network for information products. As such it is an ideal arena to research your competition and spy on existing products for virtually any specific niches that you want to pursue.

If there isn’t already at least one or more products in you niche, it may well mean that your niche is not economically viable.

If you are still searching for the right niche, you can browse through the category section to find some markets, which could potentially interest you.

With the Clickbank tool, you can identify the existing products in the market and see how many players are in the market. You can also check out their offers and see what price points they are hitting. You can evaluate their sales pages, and buy their products to determine whether or not there are any holes in the market they are missing.

Once you signed up for and logged into Clickbank you want to go the the Marketplace tab.

In the market place, you can do your research by going through the categories listing. There are a total of 9 broad categories. Next step is to then select the sub-categories and click Go.

Clickbank will then generate search results of the products under your selected category listing.

Other ways to use the Clickbank tool is to make use of the keywords search bar or sort your search by product type, popularity and languages as well.

For this demonstration, we ran through the search term, ‘Muscle gaining’.

You can see from this search, there are a high number of products that is under the niche, ‘Muscle gaining’.  You may want to play around with a variety of keywords to get a full selection of products in your niche.

At the bottom of each result, there are some useful statistics, which provide a quick insight into what the merchant is offering. So in this case, for ‘No Nonsense Muscle Building’, the product vendor pays their affiliate an average of $62.30 per sale with a possible future payout of an additional $40.97 and offers a percentage sale payout of 57%. For the ‘grav’ column, this product is at 109.08.

This gravity simply indicates the number of affiliates that has made a sale over the past 8 weeks. The higher the gravity number, the more affiliates have successfully marketed this product, which also implies that this niche is profitable!

So from here, you can gather some great information to see what are the existing products that these merchants have. You may even click on ‘view pitch page’ to spy on the merchant’s sales page to see exactly what they’re doing! If they are profiting already, there is no need to re invent the wheel.

Learn from your competitors.  This will save you a lot of time and research.

Customer Intelligence – Let the Forums Tell You All

Forums are a great place to find out what exactly your audience are thinking and talking about. This is the place where a community hangs out, discusses and share their problems and experiences.

So with forums, you can leverage on the community to find out what are their desires, lacking and needs. With these real market insights, you can brainstorm the kind of possible solutions you can provide for them.

How you use this tool is to start by going to the Google search engine and typing in the niche you have in mind and add in the keyword ‘forum’ after it.

In this demonstration, the example we’ll be using is, ‘Insomnia Forum’, where insomnia is our niche.

Under this ‘Insomnia Forum’ search results, it will display several pages of forums.

Click on one or more of the search results and research deeper into one that is most active, that means there are a lot of recent posts and replies within the forum.

When exploring the forums, it’s probably best to spend some time getting an overview of the top half dozen or more forums and then focus on those that are most active.

Initially, you want to familiarize yourself with the types of conversations going on with special emphasis on the types of questions most frequently asked.  Take note of these and start building a list of hot topics.

While you are doing this, pay attention to those people who are most active responding to other people’s questions.  These are influence leaders.  In the long run, you will want to get these people on your side. They may be possible joint venture partners and or advocates for your product.

As you gain a greater understanding of your niche, you will want to participate in the forum, and start answering other people’s questions yourself.  Many forums frown on commercial activity, so do so carefully.

Establish yourself as a reliable source of useful information by actively commenting for a considerable period of time.

Remember that forums are like icebergs.  Many people will lurk on forums and never post themselves or only infrequently.  A consistent presence will establish you as an expert in short order, and will arm you with the critical insights to target your products to people’s most pressing needs.

Free Internet Marketing Research Methods

There are a number of free internet marketing research tools and resources that will greatly enhance your ability to identify and exploit profitable niche markets.

These include:

  1. Google Directory
  2. Google Keyword tool
  3. Google Trends
  4. Forums
  5. Clickbank
  6. Quantcast

In the next several blog posts we will examine each of these in turn as we pursue our web marketing strategy of identifying profitable niche markets where we can become a dominant force.

The first market research strategy we will examine is the use of the Google Directory to begin the process of drilling down from a major category into some potential niches.

To start we will open our browser and go to http://Google.com/dirhp

When we do we will see a page that looks like this.

Arts, Business, Computers, Games, Health etc. are major categories that you can use to begin the sorting process.  For this example, we will select Health and click on it.

When we get the next screen we start refining our search. Notice at this level the categories also have a number along side them, giving an indication of how many articles are in each category.

By selecting Conditions and Diseases we are brought down one more level, where again we find many additional sub categories.

Here we will pick Sleep Disorders for this example. And are taken to on final screen, where we can pick a particular niche to explore. In this case we will select Sleep Apnea and begin our process of determine whether or not this is a good niche to consider for our purposes.

Here we can explore existing sites that are related to sleep apnea. They are initially ranked by Google Page Rank. By searching these sites we can check to see if there are advertisers on these sites which will indicate whether or not this is a viable market for us to enter. We can also research the topic to identify any gaps we might be able to fill, and possibly identify even smaller niches we might wish to enter.

This is a very simple tool to use, and yet a powerful way to begin your niche marketing research. In our next post we will explore the Google Keyword Tool.

Niche Market Research Objectives

Market research is the foundation and key to all successful niche programs. It is important to identify and research an appropriate niche before you decide which product or products to sell.

The first step is finding your niche. You want a target audience that is hungry for a solution to a problem they have. And that are willing to pay for a proper solution.

This second point is important. There are hungry niches that are not willing to pay for a solution, particularly where the solution is information. Now there are many niches where people will be willing to pay for quality information but not all. You want to avoid a niche that doesn’t already have competitors selling to them because the odds are they aren’t buyers.

Once you have found a new niche, you want to understand their problems, trends and behaviors. This means you will need to spend some time learning about the niche, listening and discussing issues that affect them, and research the existing products and vendors that are active in the niche.

The result of your market research and analysis should be a thorough understanding of the niche, so that you are an actual expert in the niche. This doesn’t mean you need be the most informed person, but clearly the better you understand your new niche the better.

As part of this new market research you will examine the existing products and services offered and determine there strengths and weaknesses. As you gain familiarity with the niche you will want to do trend research to see where the niche is going. To the extent their is a trend you clearly want to get in front of it and become its leader.

Where there is no trend you will need to focus on what’s missing? What subset of the niche is still having a problem that’s not being met.
If such a subset exists, you have found a new niche.

Perhaps the dominant product is the best product for the time being. Will you be able to market it better than it is now, now that you have a clearer understanding of the niche.

Each journey into finding a niche and creating niche profits is different.
But each successful niche marketing research project seeks to:

  • Identify Specific Market Needs
  • Identify Price Range of Existing Products in the Market
  • Evaluate the Quality and Effectiveness of the Existing Products
  • Focus on Understanding the Demographic Base of the Niche

When you are done with your research, you should be able to identify your specific audience, and know exactly what they are looking for.  You should be clear on how you can help them meet those needs and have a specific solution to their problems. And finally you should be able to establish a solid case for why they should listen to you, when you offer them your solution.