When developing a new mobile application, it's a completely natural impulse for you to want to market it to the largest audience possible. The more people who see your app and like it can translate to better word-of-mouth and potential for profitability. Everyone wants to generate demand for their apps, and everyone wants to create the next “Angry Birds.” And that's all well and good. However, in this article we'd like to submit for your approval (in the words of Rod Serling) the potential of niche markets.
“Niche” literally means a recess or a notch carved into something, such as a wall or a floor. From a marketing point of view, it refers to the targeting of a very specialized group of people, folks who share a specific interest. Unfortunately, when many people think of the term “niche market,” they equate it with thinking small. Though in some cases that may be true when going strictly by the numbers, creating apps for niche markets can often be more successful that you might think.
How does a niche application differ from a regular one? As a hypothetical example, let's consider an app that features maps and reviews for people looking to find restaurants in their area. In a general sense, that's fine, but your map's gonna be crowded if you include every single eatery type that's available. Sometimes, too many choices can be too much of a good thing; if the consumer's looking for just one style of cuisine, it can take forever to sort through all the listings.
Now, let's take that same fictional app and redesign it for a niche market. In this case, there are several options for you to consider, and several possibilities to take advantage of. Let's say your customer's looking for a nice Indian restaurant in their area. You could tailor your app to that audience specifically, and list locations, hours, menus and reviews for just those local restaurants that offer Indian cuisine. Or Italian. Or Mexican. Or Chinese. Using one basic restaurant app as a foundation, you could create dozens of niche market apps, each focusing on one type of cuisine.
Restaurants are just one example; you could build customized apps to appeal to any of thousands of interests. Just think how many car models there are out there, or dog breeds, or genres of music. Applying a laser-focus to any of these when building an app means you could have a built-in audience immediately—an audience that's intensely interested in what your app has to offer.
Before jumping into the niche market, however, we have a few pointers to keep in mind:
Know Your Stuff. This is true when making any app, of course, but it's especially important when you're appealing to a niche market. People who share a specialized interest or hobby tend to be very passionate about the subject, and they know it inside and out. Therefore, if you're considering an app just for them, you'd best study the subject thoroughly. They'll respect you—and listen to you—if you know what you're talking about.
Know Your Audience. This goes hand-in-hand with knowing your subject, of course. Make your presence known on web sites, blogs and forums that cater to the folks interested in the topic for which you're considering tailoring your app. Once people get to know you—and see you understand their category of interest—they're more likely to consider your app once it's ready.
Get Their Feedback. Don't just lurk around on those blogs and forums; take an active part! When you ask the right questions, you'll find out not only what folks want to see in a customized app, you'll be able to form relationships with them so you can make adjustments to your app later, if needed. The word will get out among the community when folks see you're not only interested in what they have to say, but are also open to making tweaks and changes they're asking for. The reputation you build will help spark their interest in your future products, too.
Give 'Em Free Stuff. Amplify your customer goodwill—and the visibility of your app—by offering freebies and perks to folks within a targeted community. The resultant word-of-mouth and community member testimonials can help bolster both your app's popularity and your bottom line.
One final point we'd like to make about niche markets: We'd recommend that you not think of niche markets as small. Instead, consider them a more concentrated potential customer base. And keep in mind there are some niche markets that are comprised of thousands of people, if not more; not all interests are limited to small groups.
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