A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.
Niche marketing isn’t enough anymore
Amazon, for instance, did just that. When it didn’t know whether the internet would prove the proper distribution channel and a new way of doing business. Rather than build an e-commerce selling anything. It started from a specific niche: books.
When it finally proved that e-commerce was a viable business model. Amazon expanded its selection. First in adjacent niches. Then in larger and larger niches. Until it reached a critical mass. And it stopped being e-commerce and it became a platform driven by a powerful flywheel and network effects.
As those digital tech giants like Amazon and Google were among the first to dominate the digital space. They were also the ones that now have the most control over the distribution of content and the purchases made over the internet (in the western world).
As new platforms that emerged throughout the first decade of the 2000s, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the media industry got more and more consolidated into the hands of a few players, with an incredible grasp for digital business modeling.
Those new models implied a few key changes, which made digital businesses move:
- from linear business models to platform business models.
- From sales funnels to flywheels.
- From word-of-mouth to virality.
- And from linear growth to an exponential growth spurred by network effects.
Enter the microniche era
Indeed, generally, micro niches represent a small part of potential customers within a broader niche, and while niches do have advantages, micro niches present even more opportunities in the short run. Some of them are:
- A less crowded space.
- With potentially high conversion.
- An extremely engagement community.
- Very high margins.
- A strong demand.
- A potentially strong brand recognition.
- Thus a lasting competitive advantage.
How do you pick a microniche?
Let’s start from a simple example. Let’s say you’re opening up a bookstore, looking for opportunities to kick off the store.
Where do you start?
There was a time when it was possible to stop there. As the web was not such a crowded space for you to start a business. However, nowadays you need to a lower level to look for your microniche.
Thus, saying something like “I’ll start from literature, or historic fiction” isn’t enough. Those are too broad. So where do you start?
Go a level down:
Within Amazon’s literature and historical fiction, we can identify a further category for us to start with. For this example I took something like “historical fiction” and went a level down:
Thus the process looks something like that:
Within that microniche you can see how the bestseller has quite some substantial reach:
The interesting thing is that what it might actually seem a very small audience it turns out to be a decent audience for a business which is starting out.
Indeed, by crossing the data from Amazon to the keyword volume for the book’s author “Johanna Lindsey” you can see how she is a micro-celebrity:
It is interesting to notice how we uncovered a potential audience made of over four thousand people each month, by just doing simple research on Amazon and by crossing that with keyword volume.
Thus, if you were to start a bookstore in that category you might want to make sure to have all the books of that author available, create a content strategy around it.
And for instance, invite the author for an off-line session with her fans. While for instance, also transmitting that live online so that you can reach a wider audience and create the first set of loyal customers for your bookstore!
As the web has become a crowded space, plenty of businesses which serve any kind of niche. Gaining traction in this scenario has become quite expensive. Therefore, it is important to identify a micro-niche, to kick off your customer base, and make you recognized among your potential customers.
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