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Identifying, targeting and engaging your niche market: Smart tips for startups

Identifying, targeting and engaging your niche market: Smart tips for startups

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Identifying, targeting and engaging your niche market: Smart tips for startups

For startups, tapping into a niche market represents not only a strategic move, but also a chance to disrupt tradition and make a lasting impact on broader industry. These specialized segments offer fertile ground for innovation, allowing entrepreneurs to carve out unique value propositions and cater to specific customer needs that larger companies might overlook. As Abi Olukeye, Founder and CEO of Smart Girls HQ notes, “a successful business is a focused business.”

That said, when starting your business, it is important to think about identifying and targeting your niche market. “When we first started, it was important to us to look at what other people were doing in the STEM learning landscape and understand why more women aren’t participating in STEM careers,” explains Abi. Through extensive research, she found that at age 12, when children are entering middle school, girls start to lean away from STEM at a higher rate than their male peers. With that, Abi realized her niche. “We found that our opportunity would be career-connecting STEM content focused on girls ages 6-12, the pivotal years leading up to middle school.”

Once you’ve identified your niche, a smart strategy to activate against it can prove pivotal to your brand’s success. “When you think about the way that customers shop, they are shopping for a need. If your product is not specific enough for them to recognize it as a solution for that need, you’re missing potential customers,” Abi notes. “We have been very direct with our niche, from our product name to our newsletter, “Raising Smart Girls,” which we use to continue connecting with customers.” Enter here a major tip: It’s important to carve out in a very clear way who your product is serving and who your target audience is, as this will inform your pricing, branding, and marketing strategy. Says Abi, “If everything is done right, this will ultimately allow your customers to find and connect with you and buy your product.”

Additional tools that Abi suggests for identifying, connecting with and engaging your core customer include:

  • Google Scholar: Allows access to in-depth research on any topic, like what you might find in a library database, which can help founders spot holes in the market and identify possible solutions.
  • Mintel: Gives founders access to market insights, with comprehensive studies and data to help identify target market segments.
  • User Testing: Access an audience of at least one million users that are able to test products and give valuable feedback and allow founders to understand what niche their products work best in. In terms of things to watch out for, Abi cautions to not pick too narrow a niche. “Remember that you aspire to run a profitable business and you’ll need a big enough market within your niche to be successful. You also want to make sure that the market is not overcrowded so there is room for you to compete.”

Additionally, a small niche can also scare off potential investors. “Most investors like to see a large market for future growth so if you plan to go the VC route for funding, make sure your niche is large enough to accommodate those growth goals,” advises Abi.

As far as next steps for Smart Girls HQ, Abi and her team are always looking to deepen their relationship with their customers, with educational curriculum as a next-step product offering that delivers on her company’s purpose. Says Abi, “That way, girls can use our product within schools in a mixed gender environment, but clearly see themselves in what they’re learning and absorbing on a daily basis.”

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Post topic(s): Target Forward Founders Black-ownedWomen-owned

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