Who is your target market and what is your niche?

target market vs nicheAll marketers seem to talk about target markets and niches.

They use the terms flippantly as if they are the same thing.

They are not.

What is a target market?

A target market is who your customers, or ideal customers, are.

The people who would be interested in buying your products or services.

And no, it can’t be everyone.

For example, if your business is childrens’ shoes you target people who have children, obviously.

Oh! yes since we are at it,  children are not your target market, they are your consumers.

What is a niche?

A niche is what you offer, your speciality, your genius that  you offer those people.

(A niche is a French word pronounced “nee-sh” and refers to a dog house but, I just wanted to get that off my chest.)

Your niche is your secret sauce, that can only be found inside you.

And yes, we all have a special somethin’ we can add to our business like no one else can.

For example, going back to the childrens’s shoes, if you are a vegan who makes vegan footwear for kids – THAT is your niche.

target market vs nicheWhy are the terms niche and target market used interchangeably?

Well, because most people think they are the same thing.

Once you identify your niche your target market becomes a LOT more focused.

Do you find your niche or does it find you?

This is something I have spent a LONG time thinking about.

4 businesses later I can tell you one thing; BOTH apply.

Not the answer you were looking for? Well let me explain.

In my first business that I started in 2007 which I affectionately called “untitled” I offered marketing solutions, PR, design, production etc to anyone who needed it. YIKES! I’m sure there’s a business sluttery post in there.

Then, in 2008 I started Daribni Technical Training with John Falchetto – offering rescue training to government agencies, and then branched out to construction companies.

Our niche found us, we identified our target audience but it was limiting so we allowed our niche to find us. It was incredibly lucrative but to say that we were unfulfilled would be the understatement of the century.

We were not active participants in the niche game.

The 3rd business which is still ongoing is our holiday apartments in Provence, France.

Our target market is anyone who wants to visit the South of France. We don’t appeal to backpackers because our pricing is right – instead we appeal to an audience which is usually upper – to top management, business owners, and families.

And now, I have my marketing business. Initially when I built this site I sought to replicate my original marketing company. But it didn’t work out that way.

The site went live in August 2011. I thought I knew what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to work with.

One client later and I had a mini-breakdown. I’ll set the scene – I was in a cafe in Avignon with John and I felt LOST. I was now a mother, running a business but wanted to do something that was ME. Something that inspired me. Motivated me. Gave me a sense of “YES – this is what I am here to do.”

I’ve always been creative. Even if some said my art was crap. I drew, a lot, for myself.

I turned to John and said “I feel like I’ve missed my calling – I want to be a graphic designer” and then I exclaimed “WTF? I don’t have time for that, it’ll take YEARS for me to get good enough” and I’m just not the patient type.

It was then I went a huge change. With John’s help and encouragement I began to draw again, this time my style changed – my purpose changed.

I decided to illustrate MY site, my posts, and create Brand Identity Visualisations for others.  In doing that my confidence grew.

I’d finally given myself the permission to bring together the 2 things that made me, ME; Marketing AND Art.

With that came the confidence to tell it like it is. To be brutally honest.

Yes, I found my niche. But it was somewhere I’d never thought to look before; inside me.

In doing this I found myself saying NO to a lot of people. And YES with excitement to those I really want to work with.

Traffic numbers, subscribers, all those numbers? They’re ok, they are fine. The reality is that by allowing my niche to find me by being selective, digging deep into what makes me, ME has opened up a HUGE world for me.

So, my target market is solopreneurs and business owners who need marketing – my niche? Those who want to break away from popular belief when it comes to marketing, want to grow their business by being told straight up, honestly what needs to be done, oh and those who love my drawings.

How can you find your niche?

  • One quick an easy way is to look over your list of clients and see which you love working with and those you hate working with. The ones you love will inevitably have something in common.
  • Look at the things that make you, YOU. What can those things do to change your business game plan?
  • Ask yourself what do you LOVE doing in your business and how you could spend more time doing that?
  • Don’t restrict yourself to doing what you *think* you should be doing.
  • Give yourself permission to mix what makes you unique aside from your business WITH your business.

Need help with figuring out your target market or finding your niche? Get in touch

25 Responses to Who is your target market and what is your niche?

  1. Gotta say Ameena, you have a way of nailing it.

    Between target markets, niches, ideal customers, marketing, strategy and tactics, it’s no wonder people get themselves wound up in a knot.

    You throw time away when you play by the rules, and more often than not those rules aren’t even your own. They’ve been imposed on you by someone you have chosen to give your power to.

    I love what you do here, you’re individuality shines through, along with your love for your work and art.

    If I could smack people upside their head with something it would be just this:
    “Don’t restrict yourself to doing what you *think* you should be doing”

    Life’s short, lean in, try it your own way. You just might suprise yourself.

    PS..thank God someone else feels the same way about the “nee-sh” word. I keep telling people there’s no damned “t” in it.

    • I’m so glad you pronounce the word niche correctly. PHEW!

      Thank you for your kind words!

      And yes “Life’s short, lean in, try it your own way. You just might surprise yourself.”

      Here’s to surprising ourselves every day and telling it like it is!

  2. Ameena,
    I love that you explained the word niche and the french meaning. Like Jackie said, it bugs me so much when people at the “T” sound to the word. I also have another peeve when people pronounce the word Foyer like this “FOYERRRRRR”.. GRRRRRRR. Anyways….

    THe difference between niche and target marketing really is very confusing to me. I still have a hard time grasping it. I sometimes think a niche is a subset of your target market? Is it wrong of me to think that?

    In my case my target market are people who want to live abroad and usually have been working for several years climbing the corporate ladder.
    My niche is people who are dissatisfied with their work and life and want to do something meaningful or fulfilling while abroad.

    Is this correct. See how confused i am…..

    I absolutely love the way your found your niche too. From within. I always envy some of those people who seem to know exactly what they want and just go for it. It’s taken me a little while to find my niche online and i’m still refining it but i feel better knowing that there are more ways to discover your niche and sometimes it’s just a process…

    • Hi Annie,
      It can be confusing – another way of looking at it is:

      target market is WHO you are serving and your niche is WHAT you serve them that is special – so you are right in thinking that it’s a small part of your target market. Knowing your niche helps you focus your energies.

      Finding your niche, is like finding your voice – it takes time – it’s taken me YEARS and I have little doubt that it will continually evolve and be tweaked.

      (Oh and those who know exactly what they want and go for it usually have omitted the challenges, changes, and pitfalls to get there) 🙂

  3. Ha that’s funny, I’m french and I never made the link of “Niche à chien”, and yes I thought niche was a synonym for target market. Thanks for clearing it up.

    • LOL – that’s the joys of learning French as a second language – I have funny conversations with French people who are learning English and they ask me why certain words in English are used for things – obviously for me it had never occurred to me how strange English vocabulary can be for foreigners – it works both ways! 🙂

      Delighted that this post helped clear up the target market vs. niche misunderstanding!

  4. Hey Ameena, good to see you taking some time off. Enjoy your sun and sand. My wife and I are doing just that right now too (Florida).

    So, if I understand you correctly my target market is designers and architects and my niche is providing ideas, thoughts and tips on management in a fun and quirky way by way of humour and my unique perspective on life.

    Somehow I can see that become a vision statement or mission statement too. Huh (I wonder). Tnanks for offering the distinction. Very helpful.

    • Hi Ralph! Yes, I can see that mission statement in lights … 🙂 Great stuff!

      Yes, your target market is designers and architects and your niche is the management side of it to which you lend YOU and YOUR experience to. I’m getting impatient now – I want to see it 🙂

      Enjoy the sun! I’ll be working but I’m sure breaks on the beach will make those few hours like a holiday!

  5. Hi Ameena,

    It seems that my niche is finding me. I am brand new to the world of business. And, I’ve started to write a business strategy for my new company, but I haven’t had the chance to finish it, because people have been contacting me and offered me jobs. I have been lucky, because I have hardly told a soul that I am ready to take on jobs.

    The problem is that right now I’m doing “everything for money” and don’t have a clear goal for what I’m doing. I love to work and I get the money, so I’m happy, but because I haven’t had the time to sit down and think about me and what I want to be doing, I’m a little afraid that I’ll just end up doing whatever for money.

    • Oh dear Jens – I am going to have to write a Business Sluttery post JUST for you 🙂

      No seriously, it’s taken me my whole journey as an entrepreneur to figure out what I love and hate doing.

      You have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince, or in your case, a princess 🙂

      And yes, in doing what you hate you can start making a list of those things you don’t want to do.

      For example, this week I was approached by an agency to partner up with them – 3 minutes into the call it dawned on me that I don’t want to go back to client servicing again and working in a team. I’ve been there, done that. I said thank you and made it clear that my one-on-one consulting is now my priority. 5 minutes before that call I was thinking “maybe” … it’s a constant process deciding what you want and don’t!

      Good luck and thanks for the updates! Really enjoying watching you grow 🙂

      • I’m looking forward to the business sluttery post 🙂

        I’m definitively growing, maybe slow, but I feel like I’m learning something every single day. Not just about business, but about myself 🙂

  6. need to spend some introspective time thinking about my niche and target market. It will be time well spent. The bullet-pointed list at the end was very helpful as was the overall post in, easy to understand, down-to-earth language helping someone like me understand these concepts.

    Ameena, I hope you and your wonderful family are doing well.

    • Thanks Jacob, so glad you found the action steps useful. I know this is a process I do with a lot of my clients and they find it terrifying at the beginning, all they see at the start is loss of revenue and clients … but when they realise that working with people, doing what you LOVE for the most part is a LOT more rewarding and, in turn, will be more profitable than muscling through with the things you HATE!

      Appreciate your feedback. My goal is to communicate clearly and make things easily understood – mission accomplished! (I could use all the jargon I used to back in the day that I learned doing my masters but who would that help?)

      Love to you and your gorgeous girls 🙂

  7. Great post Ameena. I love that you found a way to combine your passion and your business savvy. You sure are one great marketer.

    Niche’s are hard to pinpoint when writing your business plan, I think that sometimes it happens just as you describe. You have to let it sink in organically.
    Plus you need a niche to stand out from your competition. I think a lot of people start a business and think…”every kid who wears shoes needs my product” (if we are looking at your kids shoes example) but the reality is only a small percentage of parents will buy your shoes. You have to find a way to stand out, to segment yourself from the big guys.
    Just as millions of coffeehouses survive even though there is a Starbucks on every corner. These smaller, independent coffeehouses found a way to niche themselves out to appeal to a smaller audience.

    Great post!

    • Thank you Amber, your example of the coffee shops! Yes it’s that secret something that makes upon beat Starbucks.

      It took me a long while to get here and I have no doubt that it will be tweaked in months to come. But! I am loving where I am right now!

  8. As anticipated … another brilliant post!

    It may sound odd, Ameena, but reading this made me think of …

    The hundreds and hundreds of people on the web claiming to be social media experts. Ugh.

    You can almost “feel” the insincerity in some of their marketing messages … the epitome of lackluster. And there’s a whole lot of “information regurgitation” going on with folks who really haven’t allowed their niche to find them. They come across as puppets to me.

    Totally enjoyed reading all about your business journey!

    It’s crystal clear to me you’ve made your mark and you’re loving what you do. Yay, you!

    • Thanks Melanie!

      I do feel that my experience does cut my away from the self proclaimed experts you mention. My goal is not to sell pipe dreams.

      So glad you found this interesting. Your support is amazing. Thank you so much.

  9. wow – I had read this article twice and it was only in the third round that I remembered to look further down to follow the comments. The interaction found there just laid the content wide open thereafter. Although I have been in my profession for 20 plus years, it is only coming out of the last 10 years that I could finally say …. this what I do and don’t want. This is who I am and this is what I want.
    Having done that, I went on to experience a spanner in the works, when another latent talent was demanding freedom and acknowledgement.
    So, I had to dig my way through another confusing phase to find a way of combining my two passions and talents. Can’t say I have arrived at that place, but I at least know to be patient. it will unfold.

    Okay – all this yakking has been sparked by your authenticity Ameena. many thanks. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon you but boy am I glad I did.

    • Hey Rose,

      You are in a very privileged position – to know what you WANT to do and what you DON’T is something many never achieve.

      Combining passions is a challenge, and it’s ever changing – once you get there it starts taking on new dimensions – but WOW it’s rewarding and fun 🙂

      thank you for all you lovely words and sharing your experience!

  10. Hi Ameena, loved reading this post but im still struggling on whether I should have a website focused on a very narrow niche or a broader website so i can talk about a broader range of subjects…

    I’m currently looking to set up a blog on something I’m absolutely passionate about but is highly saturated – Internet marketing. Some of the categories I would be talking about are web videos, podcasting, social media etc. As this market is so crowded I was thinking of specialising in one category such as podcasting for example. Pros – This would give me a strong identity and people would prob rather work with a specialist than a generalist that talks about podcasting along with other marketing media. Cons – I don’t want to be restricted to talk just about podcasting or have a seperate website for each category. Any ideas on which route to take?

    • Hi Rob, if you are just starting out I’d suggest going with a 3-4 topics and see which stick and resonate the most with your audience. You can always drop some, add some etc down the road! Don’t let this decision making process stall you from getting it all out there! Good luck!

  11. Sometimes this can get very confusing. Many people, especially myself, can say from personal experience that this is a two sided thing. If you find the perfect target market and the perfect niche, the number of potential customers is so huge that the competitions is unbearable. On the other hand, if you find a niche and target market that is smaller, I find that it is sometimes necessary to break down the niche and target market even further. Is this true? How do you feel about this?

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