You have probably read plenty about niche marketing on the internet - but what does it really mean? This article takes a look at niche marketing in its context as an eBay shop based business.
eBay: who would have thought ten years ago that this little project of Pierre Omidyar's, started in his living room, would now be the global phenomenon it has grown into? Many things have changed in the last ten years and opportunities for business online have mushroomed to the extent that there's now almost 'too much information'. One thing that seems to baffle people who want to get on the eBay bandwagon - and it's nothing to do with the mechanics of having an eBay account which, let's face it, are pretty simple. No - the real stumper for many people is this: what do I sell? What do I trade in? And what's the best way to get exposure for my goods?
These questions are not asked by the casual eBay member; the one who wants to sell off some unwanted household goods or hold the online version of a garage sale. That type of trading, although still massively widespread amongst the eBay community, is not what niche marketing is about. In fact, it's not what an eBay business in 2007 is about at all.
I personally don't know any eBay millionaires but they doubtless exist and let's get one thing straight: eBay did NOT make these people rich - they made THEMSELVES rich. They had the savvy to see that eBay is what it is - a superb turnkey operation simply begging to be taken advantage of. They learned how to take advantage of the plethora of tools and reports that eBay waved in front of them, tools that elsewhere could well have cost a fortune. And do you know what? You can do exactly the same! It's just a question of learning how to use the eBay system.
One of the must-knows for anyone setting up or operating any trading business is this: know your market. What do your customers want? Where are they? What do they want to pay for your goods? These are questions that all business owners must know but, before that, before anything, you must know what you are going to sell. What is your stock-in-trade? Where will you buy it from? What investment do you need and (and this is a really important one) - how are you going to get those products in front of these potential customers that your research tells you are champing at the bit to buy from you?
In a redbrick business there are several avenues to market - direct mail, yellow pages, mailshots, catalogues - all tried and tested and all ranging from quite expensive to ruinously so. Just try pricing a minute of prime TV airtime - but have the smelling salts ready! On eBay things are a little different - simply get an eBay shop.
For those who don't know what an eBay shop is, in some ways it's a return to the old virtual shopping mall idea of the late 'nineties, with all the pros and none of the cons. The virtual malls were a good idea let down by clunky servers and snail-speed connections. By contrast, an eBay shop is quick, easy to maintain and, importantly, easy for your prospective customers to use. It's also inexpensive and will put your goods in front of more prospective customers than you could ever realistically hope to contact by other means.
Where an eBay shop can really come into its own is when you have your own website. Why? Simple. Your eBay shop can easily be embedded into a page on your site - where of course you can offer other goods or services and have targeted ads such as Google AdSense on the page, giving you more opportunities to earn income. An eBay shop can be as simple or as complex as you like and can grow as your business and experience does. Many people start off by selling products that they are interested in - a niche interest! But there are many, many niches within the eBay marketplace and ways of discovering them do exist - unfortunately these are beyond the scope of this article.
eBay shops are ideal for those niche businesses I mentioned above. If you want to sell pottery figures from Wade - great! Bakelite inkwells - no problem! I'm not saying you'll ever make your fortune doing this but the important thing is that you will 'cut your teeth' in a real business environment - and there are enough niches for all. Maybe you'll spread to a broader product base and make your million after all - maybe you'll just have a very nice niche business that you understand and are good at. It's all up to you!