You’re planning to launch your designs online and make a huge deal of it so you decide to venture into the world of print-on-demand.
You’ve done quite a good amount of research, but you’re still sitting on the fence about this step: Finding the right audience for your POD store.
If you’re still testing the waters on this one- don’t worry.
Many startup entrepreneurs struggle with finding the right audience for their brand, no matter what industry they’re in.
Some starting entrepreneurs may even choose to play it safe and target a general audience instead when they’re testing their luck.
In the POD platform, there’s a better way of doing this than making a blind shot. this article, we’ll talk about how niching down your market in your POD store can be a more efficient and strategic step towards business sustainability.
When you’re still starting an e-commerce business, one of the secrets to growth is targeting the right audience and finding the right niche for your brand.
What does it mean to find a niche?
A niche is a specialized market for your business that targets a specific demographic or audience.
This means that when you’re finding a niche for your POD store, you choose to narrow down the choices and focus on a well-defined and inevitably smaller segment of the general market.
Niche-oriented businesses typically focus on addressing needs that arise from specific concerns, from specific groups of people.
Thus by default, your business excludes selling other products and services that are at the periphery of your chosen niche.
Niche Store vs. General Store
A niche store only focuses on a specific segment of the market.
Whereas a general store can have multiple niches, which can address numerous concerns from different types of audiences.
A prime example of general stores are department stores such as Costco, Target and Walmart.
Usually general stores market themselves as comprehensive stores where you can find all you need- from home appliances to clothes and beauty products.
On the other hand, niche-oriented stores focus on one specific industry.
They have a more precise audience, and more limited items available for the general market.
Why should you niche down?
Given the above comparison, you might be wondering- “Why would I want to focus only on a fraction of the market when I could just target everyone instead?”
Ignoring the majority of the market may sound counterproductive to the goal of making more sales.
Well, not exactly.
Unless you are a well-established corporation that makes 7 figure sales a year or more- then it’s highly likely that you may find it difficult to make your sales fly with a general market.
It’s true that small time convenience stores can make really good numbers- but that depends on many factors.
Most of the time, it’s not the same case when it comes to starting/small entrepreneurs in the print-on-demand.
With fewer resources at hand, you may want to make the most out of them using the right marketing strategy.
In the POD business, niching down is a better approach and yields the following benefits:
Cost effectivity is one of the many benefits of niching down.
By focusing on a specific demographic, the more headroom and parameter you have to curate the right kinds of products and services to speak to your target audience.
This also assures you more that the dollars you spend on marketing materials will most likely be put to good use.
Your audience are most likely interested/invested in your niche of choice if not for your products.
Hence, as you target a specific demographic, you will incur lower costs as you cut competition with industry giants who obviously have more marketing resources.
Less market saturation, High profit margin
As mentioned, niching down can put you at a greater chance of getting noticed.
When you focus on a specific market, say selling shirts with hippie designs for men- you narrow down your options and thus decrease your competitions.
With less saturation, there’s less market competition.
People now have less options to choose from to get their ideal type of products.
As a result, they become less price sensitive.
For buyers who know what they want, they’re almost ready to purchase a specific product from a specific niche.
Thus, narrowing down can rank you better in search engines of that certain industry.
People can easily find you and can increase your chances of getting noticed by a greater majority.
More loyal customers, More Referrals
Your niche audience is likely very passionate about the products that you are selling.
As compared to selling in general markets, you make sure you sell products to people who are actually interested in them when you sell in niche markets.
Consequently, you get a more dedicated audience/ brand enthusiasts.
When you satisfy your customers with your products you’ll have a good customer base who will patronize your brand.
And since your loyal customers’ lifestyles engage in your niche in a regular basis, your loyal fanbase can recommend your brand to others in their own circle.
More loyal customers mean more referrals. You’ll be surprised to find out that a good loyal customer base can work better than your sales and marketing efforts.
Finding a niche market for your POD store
When you’re still starting your e-commerce POD business, you can get better chances of building your own brand and credibility in a specified niche than in a very saturated market.
At the essence, niching down your market is choosing to be a big fish in a small pond – rather than becoming a little fish in a big pond.
Now that niching down seems to be a brighter path ahead, knowing where to start may be a bit
Step 1: Find something you’re passionate about
“If you’re passionate about your work, you will never have to work a day in your life.”
There’s probably more to the cliché than just a Monday motivational quote you see on your Pinterest feed.
If you build your brand on something that you truly believe in, that in itself is a recipe for success.
Niching down on your personal passion can have a number of advantages.
For instance, if you’re passionate about fitness and having an active lifestyle, you can start cultivating ideas from there.
Then, say, you decide to niche down on making Fitness Merch designs for guys and gals who go to the gym at a daily basis.
You can use your own personal experience to draw inspiration for your designs and themes for your chosen niche.
It’s a great way to make a business out of the skills that you already excel at.
You own interests, talents, and abilities that match your niche can make for a great head start.
Most probably, you’ve also had a fair share of experiences on doing purchases related to your own niche of choice.
Building your niche on your passion will allow you to use your present knowledge and experiences from that specific industry.
At the same time, you will not have a hard time navigating through nuances in your niche of choice.
Step 2: Test the waters- Research your Niche
Okay, in an ideal world, we could do anything that we want in life- and make a profit out of it.
But in the reality of the business parlance, you still have to test the waters and perform a feasibility study on your industry of choice.
If you want your POD business to become successful and sustainable in the long run, you need to also test the market viability by conducting a lot of research.
As you research about your niche, identify your target demographic.
Gather information about your target customers such as their geographic location, income level, lifestyle choices, gender, and more.
The more relevant information you get about them, the more efficient your marketing strategy will be.
Research about your niche and identify the nuances and current lifestyle trends related to it. You may be surprised to know how much your niche has changed through the years.
In order to do these, take advantage of online POD marketing tools in order to identify what people are searching for online.
You can find information about recent searches and most popular searches in your own niche.
- High search volume means a lot of interest on that specific niche.
Consequently, it has a lot of potential for sales. Do note also that it has a lot of competition.
Target ones that have a 1000 or more level of search volume.
- Low search volume– isn’t usually a red flag.
In this scenario, you may think the niche doesn’t exist or isn’t profitable.
What may actually be the case is that a product for this specific niche still doesn’t exist and you could be a pioneer for it.
You can use this to your own advantage, but this isn’t without risk.
Step 3: Conduct a competitor analysis
Look also into existing brands that perform well in the niche of your choice.
Observe how they perform as they sell their products.
What makes them unique?
What sets them apart from other competitors?
What design and marketing strategies do they employ?
Study where they do right and which gaps you can fill in once you enter the market.
By doing this research, you can get a good grasp of how you will be able to make or break your way into this niche.
You can also identify what parts of your brand to highlight to make your brand stand out from the rest.
You may find out that some niches in line with your own personal interests are already saturated enough, or are too mainstream.
You can still branch out to other niches that you may be passionate about.
However note that a good amount of competition is fine.
In fact, it indicates that there is indeed money in that industry.
Just make sure that the niche is not too saturated for you to find you own space there.
Step 4: Set your competitive advantage
So what can you offer? What sets you apart from the rest?
When you’re a new player in the team- everyone might take a head to foot glance of you. When you enter into a niche, you have to identify your competitive advantage.
You have to show your customers what makes your products stand out from the others.
Here’s a great way to do it:
- Identify existing problems within your niche
- Propose a solution to that niche problem
In order to do this, you need to spend a lot of time doing research.
Read product reviews on different competitors of your chosen niche, and see for yourself what people are asking for.
Whether it be greater product quality, better customer services, or a wider range of designs and products to offer for that specific industry- give your customers a good reason to choose you.
Make sure to not offer solutions based on what you think they want- but on what they truly ask for.
Niching down may be one of the most exhilarating steps of setting up your POD store.
At first, they seem to be a riskier route, especially if you’re still starting out. You may be worried about missing opportunities and sales as you choose to focus on a smaller fraction of the market.
However, deciding to niche down your market for your POD store can be a more strategic decision if you want to build a stable and sustainable business online.
Don’t think you’ll be stuck in one niche forever.
Once you establish your name in that niche, you can grow and expand your horizons. In the meantime, focusing on a niche can narrow down your focus and develop a good loyal customer base.
There’s no sure and fast way of succeeding in your POD business but niching down is definitely a strategic, calculated risk, and a good way to do business.
See you there!