Once you have defined your niche, you can start to actively create a niche market product. And I know the protests are already starting about how you already have a product created, but hear me out. In order to foster a successful, continually growing business, you must work with your niche customers to constantly improve your products, and thus your sales.
In the article Finding Your Niche, I discussed how you put together your product with your passions. These passions must be at the center of your business, and are an important component of branding for artists, but you also need to make room for the wants of your customers. If you choose to simply make whatever you want to make (something most fine artists are guilty of), you’ll have a product that you love but that you’ll have to spend countless hours marketing as you try to find a buyer. By only creating what you want, you limit your customer base and overlook the problems and wants of your niche.
For example, a painter who only paints 20-foot nudes on canvas is excluding their niche customers who own an apartment or who are planning to downsize their cathedral-ceiling home. By offering their paintings in several sizes, this niche market product would meet the needs of more of their target customers while still maintaining their passion for nudes.
Conversely, if you blindly follow trends you will overlook your passion. Yes, you will have those owl purses that are popping up everywhere online, but they will merely be a copy of those other purses. Customers know when an artist loves their work and when they are creating simply to bring in money. Selling to sell leads to frustration in the artist and disenchantment in the customer. Selling to sell puts you in league with companies that pump out tie-dye t-shirts. They’ve forgotten their customers’ love for the unique and are focused on selling to the customer, who has sadly become a bull’s-eye to them.
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So if you can’t make what you want and you can’t make what trends say will sell, what in the world are you supposed to do to create a niche market product?
Do you remember the phrase, "The customer is always right"? In the case of branding for artists, that phrase couldn’t be more correct. If your niche market product does not address the needs of your niche customers, they won’t buy it. Does your scarf double as earmuffs? This is something all Midwestern mothers would appreciate as they dress little ones for school. Are your purses made with recycled leather to appeal to your eco-conscious clientele?
The talented Megan Auman took the problem of never having a reusable coffee cozy on hand and created wearable ones. Not only does her product solve a big customer problem, but it combines her passions for excellent design and jewelry making.
The best way to create a niche market product is to ask your customers what they want. Don’t follow every suggestion, but certainly keep your ears perked for repeats. Also, just like when you were finding your niche, examine the competition and see if you can’t tweak your design to go above and beyond. Sometimes that means adding more features and other times it could mean slimming something down. Does your niche customer demand all the options or is she more like an Apple user and wants only one button?
When making a niche market product you need to view your customer as an “active member” of your team rather than a stationary target at which to fling advertising. Make your service or product something that not only fills its niche but meets the needs of your customers. And above all, remember your passions and make sure you are creating to feed them AND your pockets.
photo: Cozy Cuff by Megan Auman