Market Down vs Skills Up Niche Selection

May 20, 2023

Today I want to share 2 really solid ways to pick a niche and 1 way to combine them for compounded effect.

Market Down

This strategy involves starting with a market and working downward to a solution and then acquiring the skills needed to serve the niche and create products.

In essence - you do intensive market research (or find someone else who is successful in a niche you like and observe their positioning) and then garner a buyer list and test various offers to that buyer list.

A simple example would be if I wanted to sell standing desks. This is something I looked into a while back, so the below numbers are quite accurate.

Notice I am not starting with a group of people but with a end product. I’m starting at the end and working down from there. A true Niche is a group of people, not a product.

💡 This is the method many people use to determine a niche BTW. It’s not a bad way to do it; just not the best IMO.

So if I have a Product (or Offer) like standing desks and I want to find a Niche from this I can do intensive research and customer outreach to determine this OR simply find someone/a business that is already selling sanding desks and look at their customer profile.

This is insanely easy using social media.

I can just search Twitter for the product, look under ‘users’ and find various businesses that are selling standing desks.

Then, I can go to their profile and look at the people that follow them and engage with their content. If I go to UPLIFT Desks’ page and find a tweet that has likes/replies, Twitter will just tell me exactly who these people are.

Wow - I can put together a list of people I know are interested in standing desks so easily.

I then take this list and distill it into a single customer persona. Notice in this tweet there is a content creator and a gamer that both hearted it.

I would gather more and more profiles and then categorize them and choose just one persona to start.

UPLIFT Desks is a big company and they probably target multiple niches with this product.

This is great for us.

Their messaging isn’t targeted directly towards “Content Creators in Texas focused on health and wellness”

This is a niche I pulled out from their engaged followers. I added Texas since that’s where I live and it’s super valuable to start local since you know the culture (see a previous Letter about this).

Now here’s the hard part…

Learn the Skills Needed To Serve the Niche

This might sound easy, but TBH this is the part I struggle with the most.

If I don’t already know the niche well, it’s hard to just infiltrate in and begin offering products and create marketing messaging.

You have to get involved in the niche. Actually DO the same things the niche does. Do you personally have a standing desk and use it?

Why the hell would you sell something you don’t even use yourself?

Because it’s ‘profitable’?

I could go on a long rant about why selling something just because it’s ‘trending’ or ‘profitable’ is a recipe for absolute failure and short-lived success, but I’ll save it for a future Letter 😜

The key with market down is to start with a product that you likely use yourself and tear it all the way down to the core niche. Simple to say, harder to do.

Let’s contrast that with…

Skills Up

Using the skills up approach, we look at the skills and interests we already have obtained and then build up into a niche. Basically, take our past selves and figure out how exactly we solved a problem and how we can package that into a product.

Same example from above, but from a skills up approach:

Let’s say I was a content creator that always skipped leg day and knew I need to better focus on my health.

I am using past tense because that is before I received a product that solved a problem. My problem was having weak legs and not focusing on health because I was too busy with content creation.

The cool thing about this method is there are a million-and-one ways to solve this problem.

  • Workout planner for busy creators
  • In home personal training
  • An app that notifies you to go for a short walk every few hours
  • A standing desk to keep you on your feet

Hmmm - that last one looks good. Then I can work on my business & my legs at the same time - LFG! 🎉

We ended up at the same place as the market down approach, but we have many other products we could create or even bundle together. A standing desk bundled with an app + personalized 10-min workout plan would be 🔥🔥🔥.

Combine the Two?

Really, the best place to find a niche is the overlap between the two.

Start from both ends and work towards the intersection.

One end is the market needs

The other is your skills + interests

Find this overlap, and you’ve struck gold!


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