I was thinking the other day about the niche of Internet marketing. It’s one of the most crowded niches on the Internet, yet so many people generate an income selling products related to making money on the world wide web. The reason is obvious – there’s a hungry crowd out there eager to make money and more and more budding web entrepreneurs are born each day.
You can segment the market into many sub-niches. There’s the AdSense expert, the pay per click expert, the affiliate marketing expert, people who buy and sell websites, email list builders, and of course the professional bloggers who use blogs to earn a living – and that’s just small handful of the areas people are making money in.
The laws of marketing dictate that these crowded industries will further segment into smaller sub-niches with the hope that you can carve out your own little piece of the pie by breaking things down to distinguish yourself from the rest. For example there’s no specific expert I know of who focuses on being the expert at affiliate marketing just with blogs or the professional website trader who only focuses on buying and selling a specific type of site, like forums.
For beginners, the issue of choosing what to sell, or in the case of blogging – what to write about – is the hardest choice. I know the thoughts that go through your head –
The problem is about positioning and until you get comfortable with what you want to be to other people, it can be a very confusing time in the life of a young start-up business or a new blogger.
Existing in the market I operate in I see a lot of people who effectively sell to the same audience – people who want to make money online – but everyone has an angle.
On the surface, the angle appears to be positioning based on product or system, as I mentioned above, an expert at one specific way of making money. However, when you look closely you note that any one method for making money is taught and sold as product by many people, yet certain leading figures stand above the rest.
There are a lot of people who make money using pay per click advertising and affiliate marketing, spending money to drive traffic to affiliate offers and earning more than $1 back for every $1 spent on traffic. There are also a lot of people who teach this method and while they all no doubt have a slightly different spin on things, when you look at it on the surface, especially as a newbie, it’s really hard to tell the difference.
If you look at things from a macro level and take a person just about to enter the realm of Internet marketing, when presented with all the options they all look very similar. Every marketer is pushing an easy way to make money, throwing pictures of their bank accounts and paypal balances, testimonials and claiming that the system is so easy, anyone can do it. To someone who doesn’t know their PPC from their SEO, it all appears the same – opportunities to make money online.
If your customer can’t understand what makes you different and unique, how can you differentiate yourself?
As I’ve grown an Internet business based on my profile and interacted with other businesses driven by a specific well known and respected person, I’ve come to realize that as always, it’s the relationship that counts the most.
To a person about to make a purchase they are faced with many options. If by chance you happen to convince them to at least try your free resources, which could be by downloading your report, or joining your email newsletter or even just reading an article on your blog, this is your first chance to make an impression and begin the relationship building process.
If the prospect studies your output and benefits from it, you have successfully completed the first step – you have a tiny piece of mindshare. Hopefully your first introduction to this new person led them to bookmarking your site, or staying subscribed to your email list or adding your RSS feed to their reader. They made the choice to continue to know you, which is something you cannot underestimate the value of in today’s attention deficit online world.
From there it’s up to you to foster the relationship and become a source of value in that person’s life. If you can master that, then it really doesn’t matter if what you sell is similar to what other people sell because you have the relationship. Essentially – your prospect likes you – and if they like you, there’s a much greater chance when it comes time to make a purchase decision, it’s you they choose.
For businesses driven by personality and expert status the key to being unique is using unique communication mediums to deliver your unique persona to the market.
One of the best examples of this I have seen is Andrew and Daryl Grant.
You may remember Daryl from the two part podcast interview I did with her years ago, where she talked about how her and her husband Andrew made $250,000 in their first year selling ebooks online. This is still one of the most popular podcasts I have done on this blog and Andrew and Daryl have gone on to become multi-million dollar Internet marketers since then.
Andrew and Daryl are unique. They present as a typical Aussie couple who use common sense and a step-by-step system to make money. As a result, they really resonate with the audience back here in Australia and have thousands of customers.
I can’t claim to know where the majority of their customers come from, but I’m pretty sure one of the main sources is speaking gigs. Andrew and Daryl do a lot of presentations at big conferences and especially in Australia, their unique personalities convince many people to join their programs.
The method of using ebooks to make money online is not unique to Andrew and Daryl, but through their unique personalities, the quality of the information they provide and the communication methods they use to market to people, they have carved out a well positioned Internet business. Obviously there is a lot you need to get right to do what Andrew and Daryl do, but the key point is how they differentiate themselves is not through product, it’s through personality and relationships.
If you want see what I mean, take a look at their namesqueeze page to join their list – www.andrewanddaryl.com/ – their positioning and personalities come across immediately.
It’s always important that you genuinely provide value to people, but I think, especially for individuals just getting started in business or blogging, that you focus your efforts on relationships more than the niches.
When I first started my email list I knew I had something to teach but I wasn’t sure what I had to sell. My product wasn’t defined yet, but I knew if I spent time helping and providing value then the key ingredient would develop – I’d begin more relationships with more people.
Down the track, when I finally had something to sell, I already had a loyal following, people who trusted me and some of whom were willing to give me money to buy from me. What I eventually sold wasn’t necessarily all that different from a macro viewpoint – just another way to make money online – but thanks to the positioning established through relationships, I had a market that trusted and purchased from me.
If you are about to embark on a business or blogging project but you are not entirely sure what you will sell or what you want your blog to be about, begin by simply providing value and open a dialog with people using whatever mediums you have available to you. In time, you will solidify the “what” you sell, but without the relationships in place, it won’t matter what particular niche you end up in.
Building Niche Relationships
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