A well known catch phrase from a popular Tom Cruise movie is “Show me the money!”
In Internet marketing circles, a more appropriate expression voiced to your audience is “show me the problem.”
Often the most effective online products are those that address problems that people are having where there is no apparent and readily available solution.
In poll after poll, consumers say they go online to research and buy products that help them to solve problems. So what problem do you want to tackle?
How to make money online? How to get out of major consumer debt? How to lose 10 pounds of belly fat fast? How to avoid foreclosure on your house when you lose your job?
These are problems that drive people desperately looking for answers to the online search engines.
So when a marketer is looking for a niche, it’s often a great place to start – by (1) identifying common and pressing problems that consumers have and (2) figuring out how to meet or solve that problem with a product or service that can be sold to the prospect.
How do you know what people want and need to know in order to solve a problem?
You have to research, observe, and listen into the online conversations in the niche.
Start with keyword research for your topic. Check in with Google Labs and find out what the trend of online interest is based on up-to-the-minute searches. Over days or weeks, you can see when the trend shifts and a new hot topic rises.
Another expanded Google tool, the Google Talk Labs, lets you get involved in conversations about trending topics.
You have a chance to interact and possibly even influence the conversation. At the same time, you want to drop into several discussion forums that focus on your niche as a way of taking the pulse of folks who are entrenched in that corner of the market.
Don’t simply be a lurker – be involved. Get into the thick of the discussion. You can use a different name – just make sure that you contribute to the conversation. (Nothing will get you barred from a forum faster than showing up with a sales pitch instead of being a consistent and helping participant)
Once you make several posts and join the conversation, then you earn the to right to offer suggestions or recommendations. That’s another reason why you want to use a name other than your own name so that you aren’t obviously recommending your own site.
When you get a hint of a problem from comments in the forum, be bold and ask, “Does anybody have a good resource for how to . . . ” If no one has a suggestion, there’s a product waiting for you to develop.
You can also get a feel for problems by scanning major blogs like Technorati, Stumble Upon, Huffington Post, Drudge Report and Boing Boing. Subscribe to blogs that are popular with followers of your niche interest. Chances are they will comment on those blogs.
If you find that there’s a product already available to address the problem, take a look at it. What can you do to improve, simplify, expand or add a new twist to it? Is it a high priced product? Then you might want to develop an alternative solution at a lower price point.
Are the existing products or services cheap and vague? That’s your cue to add more substance, get endorsements from reviewers and position your product as the premium solution in the niche.
Millions are made online by solving simple problems where the consumer is using the ‘net to find a solution.
Of course, there are other reasons people purchase online. Entertainment is one of them but that market is dominated by the huge media organizations. Truthfully, I don’t know of a more all-encompassing way to find out what’s selling well online than to look at the problems people are having and find a solution that you can sell them.
One last hint . . . another reason folks go online is to be part of a community of like minded folks. People like acknowledgement and socialization. A profitable business model could be that you set up and host a community of people in your niche. Whether it’s through a forum, a Yahoo Group, or a membership site, people have proven that they will invest themselves as part of a contributing member of a private group that has their niche interest at heart.
Profitable online business is often based on the simple proposition that the business owner finds a need, want, or desire (the problem) and then fills it with an offered paid product or service (his own or an affiliate).
To your online business success!