Hunting down niche audiences

December 31st, 2007

Here are the basic steps towards identifying an audience within a niche:

Look for publications and services that target people with specific interests: Magazines and journals targeted at a specific group of people indicate an active niche with commercial potential. Magic magazines told me a lot about what kind of audience was out there for my content.

Look for clubs and organizations dedicated towards a specific interest: You might be surprised by the different clubs that meet on a local basis in your area. A good place to find out about them is your local newspaper. You’ll find meeting notices and information about different groups.

Look for specialty stores that cater towards special needs: Although Julie Aigner-Clark’s audience for her Baby Einstein series was small children, it was moms that bought her videos. She first introduced her product in stores that catered towards baby needs. Stores like that have identified a specific niche and look for products for their audience.

Look for new trends: Often what’s popular somewhere else will end up here. Miniature street racing bikes were a hot item in Asia, now they’re becoming popular in the United States. The same kind of people in Florida (young males before or slightly older than the driving age) are just as interested in a “mini-moto” as their counterparts in California of even Tokyo.

Look at conventions: Ever drive by that airport Holiday Inn and seen an announcement on their billboard that says something like, “Welcome DragCon XXV” or “VintageFest”? These are usually fan conventions where people who all share an interest gather together to listen to speakers, meet each other and buy fan related merchandise. These conventions can be based around movies, television shows, toys, hobbies and anything else people have recognized there’s an interest in. There are even conventions dedicated to the movie The Big Lebowski.

Here are a few rules that describe a niche audience:

They have a specific interest within a larger subject
Example: Fans of horror movies

They often have their own vocabulary
Example: Fans of a specific sports use inside terms

They have their own icons and celebrities
Example: Ari Hart is famous among fly fisherman for the reels he designs

They often gather together to share their interests
Example: Women who enjoy sewing will go to “sewing camps” to learn techniques.

Once you’ve found an audience, play FBI profiler and write down as much information as you can about them. You’ll often be surprised at how homogenized they can be. The people who subscribe to magic magazines are at least 90% male. I went to a Harry Potter convention where the audience was 95% women between the ages of 19 and 25. (Best convention I ever went to.)

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