Should You Focus on a Target Market (Redux)?

Cy writes:

In developing a small web design business, should I identify a target niche early or wait until my business has started growing? Also, is it advisable to target 2-3 niche markets, or just one versus targeting

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  • http://www.practicalapplications.net bwarrene

    This advice is right on point. I have found that targeting a niche (in our case- financial services as we all came out of financial services institutions) worked very well. Additionally, as you progress, you will find spin-off revenues from industries facing similar issues or with similar needs (i.e. privacy acts in financial services, HIPPA in health care face same security and data integrity issues).

  • http://www.thewebmonsters.com webmonster

    I agree 100%. Focusing on a niche market is definitely the way to go. And like Andrew says, you are not married to that market so if you fail miserably move on to something else. I like the idea of be specialized in one particular industry. It allows you to focus on just one type of web development as opposed to trying to accomodate multiple industries. Thanks Andrew!

  • Ravedesigns

    Great advice as always Andrew, and I agree with your statement that “A good target niche is one that is large enough to sustain your business, reachable, has money to spend (and will spend it), and in which you have a good story to tell.”

    However, I would add to that list that the niche selected should also be easy to contact. Do some research beforehand to see if there are mailing lists available for the businesses in your niche, or see if there are trade journals or online newsletters that target them.

    I’ve been enjoying your blogs here and it’s great to see some excellent questions and comments posted! Steve

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Mark Harbottle

    Interesting post Andrew. I agree with your points, but I do have one thing to add… Rather than focus on an industry niche why don’t Web Developers focus on their product instead? So they become experts at delivering corporate intranets or content management systems for example. This way they can cross into different industries and limit their risk that way.

  • Derek Sheppard

    Brendon give the same advice, but he allows geography to target the market, also. Is this a valid target? Most clients I have are within 50 miles of me. Is this a viable segment or is a vertical market by type or SIC code what’s needed?

  • aneitlich

    [QUOTE=Anonymous]Brendon give the same advice, but he allows geography to target the market, also. Is this a valid target? Most clients I have are within 50 miles of me. Is this a viable segment or is a vertical market by type or SIC code what’s needed?[/QUOTE]

    Great question!

    I agree with Brendon that geography is a valid target market, and would add that geography becomes much more powerful if you also focus on one industry, then the next, then the next. In most geographies, there are lots of web designers, and the competition can be fierce. Why not set yourself apart with a deeper focus than the next designer? Of course, by using the 80/20 rule proposed in the blog, you can still take on local business outside your target market (and tee up your next niche).

    In other words, geography is valid but for me, second best.

    Also, in the age of the Internet and worldwide media, why let geography limit you? Suppose you specialize in a specific industry, and get an article published in a national trade journal or on an association web site. Then suppose you get yourself invited to speak at a national conference? Suppose you work with a couple of the top companies in your industry? Suddenly you have become a national expert. You will be in more demand locally thanks to your stature, and also generate distant clients (your geographic distance creates the impression of scarcity, which makes you more valuable).