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Can A Niche Be Too Defined?

Posted by on Jul 6, 2008

I’m going to touch upon what might end up being a sensitive subject, but I feel I must.

There are lots of pundits out there who say one must have a defined niche so they know just the market they’re trying to get, and hopefully will have that particular market find them. I understand that in general, of course. After all, this blog, though I get conversational from time to time, is more about blogging, online marketing, and the internet. And my other blog is on business topics related to people and leadership.

However, I wonder about niche’s that not only seem a bit too defined, but also seem, well, “exclusive” instead of “inclusive”. In other words,by their general definition they seem to say to others “stay out, you’re not wanted”; at least that’s how I see it.

I’m talking about niches such as “work at home moms” (WAHM), religious based, or ethnically based businesses. From where I’m sitting, I’d be immediately knocked out of two of the three, and on that third one, I’m not sure I’d identify myself as “only” being a member of that group because I think, if others had my same thought process, that it would keep some people from coming because they’d feel like I was part of an exclusive club that they weren’t invited to.

Of course I know that’s not really the case, but appearances really are everything up front, and any time you’re doing something that seems to be weeding other people out, or putting a stamp on their foreheads, you risk alienating a big part of the population and, of course, impacting your opportunity to generate true revenue. I’m certainly not saying don’t be proud of who or what you are. For me, as a black man in America, I’m not backing away from anything like that. However, I’m not identifying myself as a black businessman, or any of my businesses as black businesses, because I want to invite everyone into my digital or business living room, where I’ll serve up some virtual cherry Kool Aid and low salt corn chips and we can have a nice little conversation with each other.

Then again, some of this reminds me of a post by Steve Pavlina when he wrote about why one shouldn’t have a religion, which I thought was a bit over the top, and then he followed it with his post on feeling blessed, which was very nice but leaves one confused in some fashion about whether it was a good idea to write the initial one in the first place. My intention definitely isn’t to stir the pot; it’s to ask the question about how much niche might one consider as too much niche. Of course, if you’re looking to only work or market to specific people, then go about your business; after all, it’s what the separatists do.

And man, do those folks know how to market. Still hate them, but they’re everywhere! Overall, what do you think about this?

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I’m inclined to agree with you to a point. I do believe some folks narrow their scope too much and may even end up with the wrong target market. I do believe you need to have a clear idea of who you’re trying to reach.

In my case, my niche is baby boomer women. I’m an African-American baby boomer but I’m ALL-INCLUSIVE because I know “narrowing the scope” too much will narrow my opportunities to get my business out there.

Beverly Mahones last blog post..Stop Relying on Corporate America for Financial Success

July 6th, 2008 | 9:50 AM

Thanks for the comment, Beverly. Glad we agree on it, and we do want to be all-inclusive, period.

July 6th, 2008 | 11:04 AM

Mitch I like you do not like to stick to a niche, especially narrow ones that do not give you scope for expanding your posting boundaries. Having said that I believe that there are certain niches that have a big enough audiences to survive and you did mention one, that one being stay at home moms, that being said they have heaps of competition and need to work hard to stay ahead of the crowd.

July 10th, 2008 | 4:36 AM
John Dilbeck:

Hi Mitch,

I believe that it is important to define your niche and speak to the people who identify with it.

Business is a process of filtering.

We need to identify our best customers, define their common traits and self-chosen identities, and understand their demographics.

When we can do this, we can eliminate huge areas of wasted efforts. We can determine where we can best advertise and we can write those ads to pique their interest in our niche.

It’s an art more than a science, and how we segment our marketplace can possibly be offensive to some.

I would like for people to know what I’m marketing at a glance. That way, they won’t waste their time.

If they’re not interested in affiliate marketing, they’re probably not interested in what I’m promoting.

Yet, if they are interested in affiliate marketing and want to know more about the tools and techniques they can use to become more successful, then I want them to find me and become part of my tribe (using Seth Godin’s analogy).

I’m not trying to drive away the pet lovers, political activists, people interested in celebrity gossip, anyone wanting to redecorate their homes, or any other sub-group of my fellow earthlings. I’m trying to attract the people who want to make more money online using affiliate marketing.

That way, both the reader and I can focus our efforts and accomplish more.

Does that make sense? Does it feel like that would be offensive and separatist?

Act on your dream!


August 17th, 2008 | 5:14 AM

Hi John; thanks for commenting. Obviously I’m not against niche blogging, but there are times when the niche gets so defined that it really is exclusive. Talking about internet marketing is a pretty good niche. Talking about internet marketing for one legged blue people from Zanzibar would be too restricting, and what would be the point? Heck, for that matter, how much could a person write about it, even if they fit that bill? So many other people could possibly benefit that it might as well be less refined. That’s kind of my point on it all.

August 17th, 2008 | 2:41 PM

Hey Mitch,
I normally don’t dig up post and comment in the ‘way back zone’. But, you brought this article up in your post so, here I am.

I understand a good part of what you are saying. I think that many times the Mico-niches do not really care if the everyday Joe Blow reads them. They are going for key phrases that target their specific buyer.
If I am going to sell Humming Bird Feeders then, my whole site will be about & only about humming birds and throw in the best feeders I offer. I know that I am going to hit that target in the SERP’s. They are the people popping online and putting Humming Birds into Google.

A mico-niche blog is harder to write for in ways. You have to follow the trends on that particular subject and that can get old. At the same time you don’t have your mind wondering in 50 directions thinking about your next topic.

I have my ‘General’ blog named Life as a WAHM. That is because the health food that I have section for has mostly been ladies that buy. I also have been a member of WAHM forums for years and had a reputation there.

Thruthfully, I could not tell you the NAME of most blogs. I do know the URL so if the name is different, I would have no idea. In fact in my bookmarks & reader I have the Authors name. So this would be marked under Mitch’s blog.

All this to say that a name only goes so far. Yet, your products offered (ads) should fit the audience you draw. Otherwise you are just playing a massive numbers game.

Sheryl Loch´s last blog post..Shyftr for RSS Feeds

March 29th, 2009 | 9:09 AM

Hi Sheryl; thanks for your comment on one of my older posts; makes me feel special! 🙂 In regards to the topic, I understand what you’re saying about niche writing and possibly making sales, but, to me, saying you’re a WAHM blog one doesn’t really promote sales but like minded visitors, and two, pretty much excludes males, not overtly, but because most males (most that is) would stay away from reading them, let alone commenting on them. Maybe that’s what the women want, but if not, then that kind of “niching” (creating new words every day!) could be an impedance.

Of course, one of the stories that brought me to write this post, which I didn’t mention, was concerning this blog on feeding squirrels; yup, you’re reading that correctly. I think even the writer has gotten bored by now. lol

March 29th, 2009 | 9:32 AM