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May 31, 2013

Online Marketing Gurus Asked “What is a Niche?” The Answers Will Amaze You

The question, “what is a niche?” can have a vast range of views, perspectives and variety of responses. I asked this great question — “what is a niche” — to some of the best marketers online today. Here is the exclusive and unedited responses I received:

1. Seth Godin: “If it’s not mass, if it’s just for some, not all, it’s a niche.”

2. Jeremy Jones: A niche is a “specific target marketed topic you can become known for.”

3. Jim Cockrum: “Great question. From an online marketers perspective (my perspective specifically) a niche is a topic, item or concept that has the potential to be an online rallying point for those with similar interests and needs related to the given topic, item or concept. The true opportunity in niche marketing is for the leaders, mavericks, and trendsetters in those niche markets. Done well, you can become a trusted source of information and leadership on virtually any topic, item or concept as long as there are others online with similar interests or curiosities.”

4. Eric Spellmann, founder of EricSpellmann.com: “I define a niche as simply «a specialized area of interest. On the Internet, at least with my customers, I have discovered that the businesses that have a more targeted, laser-focused niche do better than those with a vague, Wal-Mart-like goal. While a niche product has a smaller potential customer base, it also has fewer competitors to rise above. “

5. Bob Speyer, co-founder of WebSuccessTeam.com: “A niche is a defined marketplace and targets a select segment of a larger group. In the social media sphere, a niche is a group of people that share common interests, hobbies or professional associations. Oftentimes, these special groups incorporate community guidelines. Brands can utilize niches to drill down and target consumers in less congested environments other than Facebook and Twitter, like Instagram, Pinterest and Foodspotting.”

6. Chris Brown, founder of Resources-Results.com and Branding & Marketing: “A niche is defined as a narrow target market. I think the word niche means small and focused. A niche can be described by a variety of demographic, psychographic and geographic qualifiers. While some people might define your niche by the products or services you are selling, to me it is more about who you are selling to rather than what you are selling. A very broad niche might include a whole industry: computer users, automobile drivers, architects. A narrower niche might be: First time mothers of twins with household income of over $70K.”

7. Jason Falls, SocialMediaExplorer.com: “I’d define a niche as a sub-segment of a greater audience. There’s marketing, then there’s the niche segment of digital marketing. Beneath that, a niche segment of social media marketing and so on. It’s a portion of the audience that doesn’t share all the characteristics of the greater whole. Fair? “

8. John Saddington, TentBlogger.com: “Niche – a specialized but profitable corner of the market.”

9. Shawn Collins, AffiliateSummit.com: “Niche is simply synonymous with a vertical or topic.”

10. John Blue, chief of Community Creation at Truffle Media: “Niche for our needs are well defined groups of people interested in a similar issues or topic. For example, pork producers who have more than 30,000 pigs is a very defined group of people. Niche does not necessarily mean small numbers of people. You can have a well-defined group and have hundreds of thousands of people. Examples would include people interested in just IU basketball, people interested in ice fishing, or people interested in cattle rodeos.”

11. Content Marketing Institute: “Needs to be small enough that there is the possibility to position you or your company as the leading expert in the world at that niche. Most companies go too broad with their niche (hence, not a good niche to pick). When you try to create content for everyone, you often end up being of little value to anyone.”

12. Bill Faeth, president of InboundMarketingAgents.com: “We target our marketing campaigns by buyer personas. I believe that an audience’s needs, demographics and pain points should have a powerful influence over content marketing and design. Even within a given vertical, there can be a number of niches defined by the buyer personas.”

13. Heidi Cohen, president of StrategiesHeidiCohen.com: “A niche is a well-defined segment of a larger market. The more specific you are in delineating your niche audience; the easier it is to target your marketing. A niche market provides an organization with the opportunity to uniquely fulfill the needs of its members based on their interests, past behavior, social media preferences and role in the purchase process. When defining your target market, it’s useful to create a marketing persona as well as a social media persona to better understand your audience and the tradeoffs they’re willing to make.”

14. Doug Karr, founder of The Marketing Technology Blog: “Niche is a thorough expertise in a specific field of study. Some marketing niches are SEO, blogging, whitepaper development, design, branding, usability, social media, videography, etc. At DK New Media, we like to tell people our niche is focusing attention on how each strategy best interacts with the other. Drives people nuts. They think we should be all out experts in one field. In our experience, the problem typically isn’t specific to one field when a company’s marketing is failing them… it’s often how they’re leveraging each interactively.”

15. Andy Beal, creator of Trackur.com: “A niche is an area of expertise where you focus your learning, your practicing and your branding.”

16. Steve Farnsworth, Jolt Digital Marketing chief digital strategist: Sticks to the good old-fashioned dictionary definition for niche, “A distinct segment of a market.”

17. Tim Piazza, ProSocialTools.com: “A niche is any well-defined market. Because they are well-defined, they can be marketed to as a group. Building contractors are a category in the construction trade, but I wouldn’t consider that a niche because the category can include everything from residential roofers to airport terminal developers. You would be challenged to create a campaign to sell hammers to a group like that, even though the category uses a lot of hammers. You can’t define a universal need, so you can’t appeal to their desires. A well-defined niche would be independent pizza restaurants. They all share a number of attributes, such as a service area that is local, a product that is fresh-made and relatively inexpensive, and intense competition from franchise restaurants backed with ready-made advertising materials, sophisticated online ordering, and brand recognition. A marketer can easily target the independent pizza restaurant niche, recognizing that their universal need is to sell more pizzas, or more specifically to cost-effectively increase sales in a hyper-local market.”

18. Aaron Wall, SeoBook.com: “Niche is just another word for a market vertical. How broadly (e.g.: shopping) or tightly (e.g.: non-matching socks) one goes must be defined depends in large part on things like startup capital and other forms of leverage. If you are the No. 30 player in a broad market or rank on Page 3 of the SERPs you might have significant expenses but essentially no revenues. In that case it would make sense to focus tighter on one aspect you can dominate. Some sites that went after pretty broad markets (like Yelp) also focused on one specific location so that they could saturate that market and build up a critical mass in it before going nationwide.

19. Aaron Wall, SeoBook.com: “Define a Niche? A niche is generally a small group of individuals that share several distinct characteristics that set it apart from other more general markets. Everyone has their own niche, and it’s important as marketers to understand the niche our business fits into so we can:

  • Target the right prospective customers;
  • Convey the right value proposition in our messages;
  • Continue to deliver what our customers care about most.

“In search marketing, we target niche keywords (and even long-tail keywords) to ensure our messages are in front of the most relevant audience. In PR, we reach out to niche bloggers who would be most likely to talk about a specific topic. In social media advertising, we target ads to people with very niche interests.”

20. Ameena Falchetto: “What is a niche? A niche is what you offer, your specialty, your genius that you offer to those in your target market. (A niche is a French word pronounced ‘nee-sh’ and refers to a dog house but, I just wanted to get that off my chest.) Your niche is your secret sauce that can only be found inside you. For example, if you sell children’s shoes your target market are parents of children who need shoes, if you are a vegan who makes vegan footwear for kids — that is your niche.”

21. Priit Kallas, DreamGrow.com: “A niche is a common theme that is focused and clearly defined. You can say ‘I am writing about social media marketing.’ If you have to add ‘and’ then it seems to be several niches. ‘I am writing about social media marketing and mobile marketing.’ Or you can combine the example into digital marketing niche. The wider the range of topics the less niche it is.

22. Just-Ask-Kim.com: “Niche — A specialized subset of a market comprising of a group of people with interest in a specific area that you want to target and promote to.”

23. Sonia Simone, CMO, Copyblogger.com: “A lot of people think of a ‘niche’ as a particular topic. I find it’s more helpful to think of it as a group of people — united by a common interest or problem — who are attracted to you because of how you can help them with that interest or problem. That takes the focus away from you and puts it where it should be: on the audience you intend to attract and serve.”

23. Jayson DeMers, AudienceBloom.com: “I like to think of a niche as a sub segment within an industry; a specific focus within a larger field. For example, SEO is a niche within the broader category of Internet marketing. When thinking about niches, it’s often helpful to identify other, similar niches. For example, social media marketing is a niche within the Internet marketing category, and it intertwines and interacts with SEO.”

24. Corbett Barr, Think Traffic founder: “A niche is a sub-section of an overall topic or market. For example, if fitness is the overall market, fitness for new moms would be a niche.”

25. Sean Sullivan, Converge Street founder: “The niche is the small group you want to target with your product and/or your service. The niche is just a general description about whom you want to target. The people you want to target are your trusted clients and advocates (your tribe/community)The whole idea is not what is a niche but more so how to leverage what you know and what your position versus your competitors to find the most ROI from your clients. To find your niche, you need to do market research on your competitor and creating a SWOT analysis.”


Mikhail Tuknov is a president of Infatex.com, a full service Internet marketing and search engine optimization  (SEO) company offering results-driven services and exceptional customer support.

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